When a Loved One Has Sustained a Wrongful Death
Every day we wish for the best when it comes to our loved ones so that they are healthy, happy, and free from harm. Nobody wants to get the phone call that a loved one has passed away due to the negligence of another in a horrific accident that could have been prevented. However, every year wrongful death claims are brought when somebody commits reckless wrongdoing on the roads, in the workplace, or elsewhere. Oklahoma Statutes cover wrongful death under Chapter 12, Section 1053, defined as a ‘wrongful act taking the life of another.’ Today we will learn more about the wrongful death claim: from the elements that must be proven, to who can bring suit, to the damages you could receive in a claim.
Elements Present in a Wrongful Death Case
Just as in any accident case, there are elements that must be proven when you want to bring a wrongful death claim. Here are those 4 key elements:
- Negligence: Negligence is proven in a wrongful death case when you can show that the death of your loved one was caused through reckless, careless, or negligent actions and that it wouldn’t have occurred if the person had not been acting recklessly at the time.
- Breach of Duty: You must be able to show that the defendant owed a duty of care to your loved one and breached it. In the case of a traffic accident, for example, the driver might have been drinking and driving. Any average driver would not drink and drive, which means that you committed negligence if you did. You have to be able to show the duty of care and that it was breached for this element to exist.
- Causation: You have to actually be able to show how the negligence correlates with the death of your loved one.
- Damages: There must have been damages as a result – such as hospitalization, medical expenses, funeral costs, or some other type of damages. If you and the family have suffered in some way, this element has been met.
Is it a Wrongful Death Claim or a Survivor Action?
You may wonder if you have a wrongful death claim or something known as a ‘survivor action’ under the law. Both stand in place to hold defendants responsible for their negligent actions after somebody has had their life taken away. However, when it comes to wrongful death claims, you and your family members may be paid for expenses that have added up as a result of the death. Survival actions are a bit different in the way that they pay for damages suffered by the victim before they lost their life. Perhaps the victim of the accident has suffered significantly and spent time in the hospital before they passed away, suffered extensive medical bills, and more. Now you can see how both of these cases go hand in hand.
Who is Permitted to Bring a Wrongful Death Case?
A wrongful death claim is a civil action, which means that you and family members will be able to gain compensation that is owed to you after a loved one has been taken from you too soon. Many people think that anybody is qualified to make these claims, but this is not always the case. Eligible people could include:
Spouses: A spouse (and even sometimes a domestic partner) typically holds the right to bring one of these claims for loss companionship and bills that stem from the accident, as well as emotional trauma from losing a loved one.
Children: Minor children may no longer be eligible for certain benefits when their parent has been taken too soon. Their parent is no longer supporting them with an income, which is why it is not unheard of for a child to bring a case. They no longer have a relationship with a parent who was taken too soon.
Parents: Usually, parents can bring a claim if they lost a minor child. It is difficult to put a number on these cases, but not impossible. If they have lost a relationship with a child or have suffered emotional trauma, a claim is possible.
As you can see, a variety of family members have the ability to bring a claim after they have lost a loved one. But what damages are they entitled to under the law?
Oklahoma Wrongful Death Claim Damages
In Oklahoma, you have to act quickly when it comes to filing your wrongful death claim. In fact, the statute of limitations says that you have two years from the time of your loved one’s death to file a claim. If you believe that you are eligible for damages based on who you are in relation to the loved one and how you and others have suffered, you want to move forward with the help of an attorney. Here are some damages you might be able to receive:
Economic Damages: Damages that have a monetary value, such as medical bills, lost wages, and funeral expenses
Non-Economic Damages: Damages that are non-monetary and a bit more difficult to calculate such as emotional suffering from losses
Oklahoma also allows for something known as punitive damages when it comes to wrongful death claims. A surviving family can push for punitive damages in cases where somebody has acted especially reckless as a way to deter future parties from acting recklessly or as a way to punish the defendant for their actions. This could be applicable in a case where somebody has been arrested for drunk driving multiple times and then kills your loved one in an accident due to drinking and driving. It is important to understand what damages you are eligible for before you move forward in your claim.
Turn to Us
In your time of need, turn to an attorney that you can trust with your wrongful death claim. At McGuire Law, we want to help you every step of the way after you have lost somebody close to you. We understand how trying these times can be and want to stand by your side. Get the help an expertise you need in your case today and call us at 888-352-0624. We are waiting to hear from you.