Losing someone you love is, without question, one of the darkest tragedies the human heart has to endure. The twist of the knife comes when you know that the death of your loved one was completely preventable. In Oklahoma, a wrongful death is one that was caused through someone else’s negligent or nefarious actions.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
These types of claims can be filed if the action that caused the fatality would have put the deceased in a position to file a personal injury claim had they lived. A wrongful death claim can, therefore, be interpreted in the same way as a personal injury claim but one where the injured party is unable to file on their own behalf. The survivors of the deceased are able to take the person responsible for the death to court in order to recover damages from the loss that they caused. In Oklahoma, this type of suit can be related to any circumstance where someone’s negligence or malice led directly to the death. This includes car accidents, tractor-trailer accidents, medical malpractice, and civil rights cases.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
The law in Oklahoma states that the “personal representative of the deceased person’s estate may bring a wrongful death claim to court.” A personal representative, in this case, is someone who stands in for the deceased and the beneficiaries of the deceased and has usually been selected during the estate planning process. The spouse is the most common choice for personal representative although siblings and children are not uncommon choices. If no representative was named during the estate planning process then one will be appointed by the probate court.
Is There a Time Limit to File?
It is important to note that the statute of limitations on a wrongful death suit is two years from the date of the death in the state of Oklahoma. Any claims that are attempted to be filed after this time limit has passed will be barred by the court. A wrongful death claim is a civil suit, not a criminal one, and will be tried separately from any criminal case that might be taking place. A licensed personal injury attorney will be able to explain this to you in depth.
What Sort of Damages Can be Compensated?
The personal representative may seek the following damages in a wrongful death suit:
- Medical and burial expenses
- Loss of consortium and grief of the surviving spouse
- Grief and loss of companionship to the children and/or parents
- Mental pain and anguish suffered by the deceased
- Financial loss to the surviving spouse and/or children
- Punitive damages
Punitive damages, unlike the others, do not serve the purpose of compensating the family for its loss. In Oklahoma, punitive damages are actually awarded to the family in order to punish the defendant for egregiously bad conduct in a sort of “bad behavior tax”.
These guidelines do not cover everything you need to know about filing a wrongful death suit in Oklahoma. If you plan on filing a similar suit, it is best that you seek out qualified legal representation from a personal injury attorney to help you through your case. While you try to sort through your emotions and put the pieces of your life back together, one of the reputable attorneys from the McGuire Law Firm can skillfully handle the details of your wrongful death claim for you. We always seek the maximum compensation that our clients are due according to Oklahoma law and make sure that your rights remain protected at all times. If you are interested in a free consultation with an Oklahoma personal injury attorney, please give us a call at (405) 513-5658 as soon as possible.