The death of a loved one can be traumatizing, however, it’s worse when such death could have been prevented. Wrongful death cases are often characterized by negligence and issues that could have been avoided if the involved parties had acted right. In Oklahoma, it is possible to sue an individual, a group, or an organization for the death of a loved one caused by their wrongful act. Find below the information you need to navigate this complex legal scene and determine if you or a loved one has a cause of action for wrongful death in Oklahoma.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death is a legal term used to describe death caused by negligence or wrongful acts of an individual, a company, or an organization. In essence, the death may not have happened had the other party fulfilled their duty of care. When a wrongful death case arises, it is possible to sue the negligent party who was responsible for the death, played a role in causing the death to occur, or failed to act in a manner they should have that would have reduced the likelihood of the death occurring.
Oklahoma’s civil statutes dealing with liability for wrongful death laws provide that wrongful death actions can be applied to various situations that have led to the death of another party due to someone else’s negligence. This means deaths due to motorcycle accidents, nursing home abuse, medical malpractice, car and truck accidents, etc., qualify for wrongful death lawsuits when the specific elements are present.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed by a representative of the victim or deceased’s estate. This means that the deceased’s next of kin can take action or the court, in a probate action, may appoint a representative for the deceased.
It is important to note that the representative isn’t the sole heir to the compensation paid for the victim’s death. The damages recovered from the suit will be distributed according to state laws, which is only one reason why it is important to hire experienced wrongful death lawyer or plaintiff attorney that handles wrongful death cases to ensure your matter is handled properly.
How Long do I have to File an Oklahoma Wrongful Death Cases?
All lawsuits or civil actions are limited by statutes of limitations, which set the boundary for when a party will no longer be liable for negligence or any other type of misconduct. In most wrongful death cases, there is a two (2) year statute of limitations for the victim’s family to file a lawsuit against the negligent party.
Filing a lawsuit outside of the statute of limitations may cause the case to be dismissed by a court of competent jurisdiction. Meaning, you may have an otherwise valid claim; however, if you wait to begin the action until after the statute of limitations has run out, you may be prohibited from bring your wrongful death lawsuit, by the statute of limitations, even if you have an otherwise valid claim.
Types of Damages You Can Recover from Wrongful Death Suits in Oklahoma
Many statutes and cases law impact the types of damages that one may seek as compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one. However, Oklahoma Statutes Title 12 Section 1053 prescribes that the deceased’s personal representative may claim damages for at least the following:
- Loss of consortium and grief of the surviving spouse
- Medical and funeral expenses
- Financial loss to the surviving spouse and children
- Mental pain and suffering by the deceased
- Punitive damages
- Loss of companionship and grief to the parents and children
This list may seem brief; however, the compensation that is encompassed in these classifications of damages are great, in fact many wrongful death cases result in judgments or settlements in excess of one-million dollars in Oklahoma.
How Damages and Compensation are Distributed in a Wrongful Death Case
Oklahoma laws determine how recovered damages are to be shared, which depending both on the recovery and the relationship of parties to the deceased.
Damages for loss of consortium and grief of the surviving spouse. This damage caters to the loss of consortium suffered by the surviving spouse in the absence of their partner. The right to recover this loss is enshrined in the common law right and any money recovered will go to the spouse.
Damages for medical and funeral expenses. The money recovered in damages for medical and funeral expenses goes to the person, persons, or entity that paid for these expenses. The deceased’s estate will be reimbursed if it paid for the expenses. In fact, if a party is facing subrogation or a lien by a medical provider, your wrongful death attorney may be able to reduce the amount that the medical provider will receive of the total amount of damages for medical bills. The outcome of any reduction in payout to a third-party is an increase to the available funds for your settlement.
Financial loss to the surviving spouse and children. This can be proven with the right evidence to show the impact of the deceased’s loss on the surviving spouse and children. The money recovered will be paid to the spouse and children.
Mental pain and suffering by the deceased. This is damages paid for the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased leading to their death. The money recovered is paid to the spouse and children.
Punitive damages. This is an additional amount awarded by the court to punish the defendant for their involvement in the deceased’s death. The amount recovered goes to the spouse and children or the next of kin with claim to damages.
Loss of companionship and grief to the parents and children. This damage is paid to the deceased’s surviving parents and children for their loss.
Your Next Steps
Losing your loved one can be devastating and traumatic. Seeking redress should be calculated and that is why you need an experienced Oklahoma wrongful death attorney in your corner. At Cannon & Associates, we are happy to offer all of the legal help and guidance you need to navigate this complex issue and determine, if a wrongful death lawsuit it right for you and your family.
Our attorneys won’t charge you a dime until your case has been completed and compensation awarded. Whether you decide to work with us or not, we’d be glad to meet with you answer your questions and if we are the right fit for you be Your Fierce Advocates™. Get the legal help you need, complete the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at (405) 657-2323. for a free, confidential case evaluation.