What Is Wrongful Death and How Does a Wrongful Death Claim Work?

The death of a loved one is a tragedy, and it can be especially heartbreaking when the loss of life occurs due to wrongful death. In a wrongful death claim, family members seek compensation when their loved one has been killed due to someone else’s actions or negligence.

These claims can be very emotional. In addition to grieving the loss of a loved one, you may also have concerns about coping financially without the person’s income. It’s also natural to want the other party to be held responsible for their actions.

In this article, we’ll give a brief overview of how a wrongful death claim works.

Who May File a Claim for Wrongful Death in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma law places limitations on who can file wrongful death lawsuits. While some states allow the surviving relatives, including spouses, children, parents, siblings, or grandparents to sue for wrongful death, Oklahoma singles out an appointed personal representative as the only party with the ability to file this type of claim.

In this situation, the personal representative may either be named in the will as an executor or appointed by the court. The representative acts on behalf of both the decedent and the surviving family members.  

The Anatomy of a Wrongful Death Claim

Generally speaking, a wrongful death claim can be filed for any situation in which the decedent would have been able to seek damages for personal injury if they had survived. When death is determined to be wrongful, it will be because the liable party failed to do something that they should have done or did something incorrectly.

A wrongful death may be due to negligence, but wrongful death claims can also be due to someone’s intentional acts.

In deciding a wrongful death claim, two issues need to be addressed:

1. Who (or what) caused the person’s death?

2. How much financial compensation should be awarded?

Some of the most common causes of wrongful death claims are:

–   Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents

–   Defective products

–   Medical malpractice

–   Dangerous drugs

–   On the job injuries

Determining Damages

After it’s been decided that the death was wrongful and the party in question is liable, the courts will need to determine damages. This figure denotes the financial compensation that the family members will be awarded.

Damages fall into two categories:

1. Economic damages

2. Non-economic damages

As the term suggests, economic damages are damages that can be assigned an objective dollar amount. These damages may consist of the following:

–   Medical expenses associated with the fatal injury

–   Funeral and burial expenses

–   The amount of financial support the person provided

–   Household contributions

These figures can be calculated based on receipts, banking information, and financial models.

Non-economic damages can be more challenging to calculate. These damages attempt to value intangible things like loss of companionship, guidance, and affection.

We Are Here to Help – Get in Touch

The team at the Law Offices of Bryan Garrett PLLC has a long and successful track record in wrongful death cases. While it can be challenging to think about moving forward with these claims, it’s important to be aware that a two-year statute of limitations applies, meaning a lawsuit must be initiated within two years.

Our team is standing by to assist you during this difficult time. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss your situation further.

Bryan Garrett PLLC

Bryan Garrett has been dedicated to personal injury law for over 15 years in Oklahoma City. He has achieved excellent results for countless clients, whether through settlement or litigation.

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