When a loved one dies in an avoidable accident, it is only natural to want to hold the person who caused the accident accountable. If someone else's negligence, carelessness, or intentional action caused your loved one's death, you are justified in believing they should have to pay for their actions. In certain situations, surviving family members have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party or parties to obtain financial damages to make up for their loss.
Obviously, no amount of money can replace a loved one who was killed in a senseless accident, but a wrongful death legal action can help you with the immediate aftereffects of a tragic loss. When you work with attorney Pete Olson, you can be sure he and his team will provide skilled legal service with the utmost compassion.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death legal action is a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of a deceased person whose death was caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions of another party. A wrongful death lawsuit may be possible when the death of an individual has resulted in damages and losses to the surviving family members. The purpose of such legal action is to seek compensation for the economic and non-economic harm suffered by the surviving family members, including financial losses, medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of financial support, loss of companionship, and emotional distress. Wrongful death claims aim to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions and provide some measure of justice and financial support for the surviving family members in the wake of a tragic loss.
Factors to Understand When Considering a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
At no cost or obligation to you, the legal team at Pete Olson Injury Law will walk you through everything you need to know about filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Tennessee. We will explain all of the following factors:
- Eligibility to file. Not every survivor is eligible to file a wrongful death suit. Typically, immediate family members, such as spouses, children, or parents, have the right to file a lawsuit. However, there may be exceptions or specific rules depending on the circumstances.
- Statute of limitations. Statutes of limitations impose a time limit within which the lawsuit must be initiated. In Tennessee, the general statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is one year from the date of death.
- Liability and negligence. It will be necessary to determine whether the death resulted from someone's negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions. Establishing who was at fault for causing the death is crucial in a wrongful death case.
- Causation. There must be a causal link between the negligence or wrongful act of the defendant and the death of the victim. It's important to demonstrate how the defendant's actions directly contributed to the fatal incident.
- Damages. Your attorney will evaluate the potential damages that can be claimed in the wrongful death lawsuit, including economic damages (such as medical expenses, funeral costs, and lost financial support) and non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and emotional distress).
- Evidence. Accident reports, medical records, witness statements, photographs, video footage, and any other documentation that can help establish liability and damages will be key for establishing negligence and fault.
- Insurance coverage. The value of your claim might come down to how much insurance coverage the responsible party has that may help compensate for the damages. This could include liability insurance, auto insurance, or other applicable policies.
- Settlement vs. trial. We might ask you to consider the possibility of reaching a settlement with the defendant or their insurance company rather than going to trial. A settlement can provide a quicker resolution, but it's important to carefully evaluate the terms and ensure they adequately compensate for the damages. Alternatively, if a fair settlement cannot be reached, we will prepare for the possibility of taking the case before a judge.
Tragic Accidents That Can Lead to Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Any fatal accident caused by negligence or an intentional act could be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Most commonly, these legal actions arise from:
- Car accidents. Fatalities resulting from car accidents caused by negligent, reckless, or drunk drivers may give rise to a wrongful death lawsuit. This includes accidents involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, or pedestrians.
- Medical malpractice. If a health care professional's negligence or medical error leads to a patient's death, the surviving family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible health care provider or facility.
- Workplace accidents. Fatal accidents that occur in the workplace due to unsafe conditions, lack of proper training, or employer negligence may result in a wrongful death lawsuit. This can include construction accidents, industrial accidents, or incidents involving heavy machinery.
- Product liability. If a defective or dangerous product causes someone's death, the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer may be held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit. This can include cases involving faulty machinery, defective consumer products, or pharmaceutical products.
- Premises liability. Fatal accidents that occur on someone else's property due to negligent maintenance, inadequate security measures, or hazardous conditions may lead to a wrongful death lawsuit. Examples can include slip and fall accidents, swimming pool accidents, or inadequate security leading to assaults.
- Nursing home negligence. If the negligence or abuse of staff in a nursing home or long-term care facility leads to the death of a resident, the family may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility or its employees.
- Intentional acts. Fatalities resulting from intentional acts, such as assaults, homicides, or acts of violence, may lead to a wrongful death lawsuit. This can include situations where a criminal act leads to the death of the victim.
If you lost a loved one in an accident, reach out to us to find out if you potentially have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.