Understanding How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works

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Understanding How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works

Sometimes it’s hard to be rational in the face of losing a loved one. Your grief over the loss might be too strong – and that’s completely natural. You might also be angry and looking for someone to blame, which is understandable as well. But because wrongful death lawsuits are often considered when our pain is new and raw, it can be difficult to understand what that type of lawsuit really is.

A wrongful death lawsuit is filed against a person whose actions led to the death of another person. Those actions could have been intentional, or they could have been the result of negligence or recklessness. For example: a surgeon who does everything right, informs you of all the risks involved in your surgery, and yet cannot save you while you’re on the operating table is not a good candidate for a wrongful death lawsuit. However, a truck driver who’s speeding down a highway with a Blood Alcohol Content level of 2.0, and who loses control of the truck and crashes into your mother killing her instantly – that is a strong candidate for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Who is allowed to file?

More often than not, immediate family members – a spouse, a child or a parent – are the people who file the wrongful death claim. However, the executor of the deceased person’s will or the administrator of the estate may also file a lawsuit.

In Tennessee you have one year to file a wrongful death lawsuit, starting on the day of death.

What is a wrongful death lawsuit for?

Wrongful death cases hold negligent parties responsible for their mistakes. You are allowed to sue for:

  • Any medical expenses incurred by the deceased
  • Any funeral expenses
  • Any lost wages, including potential future earnings
  • Loss of consortium (under the “pecuniary value of life” for a spouse)
  • Any pain, suffering or loss on enjoyment in life that the deceased suffered (if applicable)

A wrongful death lawsuit is supposed to help the family members of the deceased to survive. If a family loses its “breadwinner,” or if a child is paralyzed by a medical procedure which later leads to her death, the medical bills and lost wages could destroy the lives of the surviving family members. It may not mend a broken heart, but it can alleviate the stress of mounting bills, and give the family some peace of mind about their day to day lives.

If you have questions about wrongful death lawsuits, let us know how we can help.