The loss of a loved one is never easy to accept, even if the death was anticipated. If the death was unanticipated, and you believe it could have been prevented, the feeling of loss is magnified a hundred fold. Along with grieving your loss, you may also be experiencing a wide range of additional emotions, including anger, despair, and confusion. Although nothing can turn back the clock and prevent the death of your loved one, if another party’s wrongful conduct caused, or contributed, to the death you may be entitled to compensation for your loss through a wrongful death lawsuit. Like many people in your position, the last thing you may want to focus on right now is a lawsuit; however, keep in mind that your loved one would likely want you to pursue any compensation to which you may be entitled to help offset the financial hardship the loss of your loved one may be causing you and your family. In addition, your loved one would probably want the party responsible for contributing to his/her death to be held accountable. It is important for you to consult with an experienced Tennessee wrongful death attorney as soon as possible if you suspect that your loved one’s death was caused by the wrongful conduct of another party because only an experienced attorney can review the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the death to determine if you have the bass for a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
An individual can die under a virtually endless variety of circumstances. In most of those circumstances, the death of the result of natural causes, injury or illness, or even a true accident. Sometimes, however, a death could potentially have been prevented. When the intentional, reckless, or negligent act or omission of another party contributed to a death it is referred to as a “wrongful” death in the State of Tennessee. It is not necessary for the other party to have been the sole, or only, cause of the death. If another party’s conduct contributed to the death it may qualify as a wrongful death. A wrongful death can also occur under a wide variety of circumstances. Some common examples of scenarios that could form the basis of a wrongful death claim include:
- Drunk driving accident – by causing an accident while operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, a motorist could be held liable if the accident resulted in the death of another person.
- Medical error/negligence – if pharmacist, for example, gave someone the wrong medication and it caused a fatal reaction, the pharmacist could be held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Dog attack – if the owner of a dog fails to properly restrain the dog, and the dog gets loose and fatally attacks someone, the owner’s “omission” could be the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Swimming pool drowning – if the owner of swimming pool fails to prevent children from wandering onto the property and falling into the pool, that failure could be considered negligence and could lead to liability for a wrongful death.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In the State of Tennessee, only certain people are entitled to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. The purpose behind a wrongful death lawsuit is to compensate people who are actually suffering as a result of the decedent’s death. Therefore, only the following people may be entitled to file as a claimant in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- The surviving children or next of kin (spouse)
- The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate
- The surviving parent or parents, if the deceased person was dependent on his or her parent at the time of death, and
- The administrator of the deceased person’s state, if the deceased person was a dependent at the time of death.
When Should I Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney?
The State of Tennessee has a very short statute of limitations for wrongful death actions. A statute of limitations is the time set by the legislature in which a Plaintiff (survivors in this case) must file a lawsuit. Failing to file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations means your claim for compensation is forever barred. In Tennessee, the statute of limitations is only one year. Therefore, even if you are unsure if you have the basis for a wrongful death lawsuit, and/or if you want to pursue one even if you do, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Tennessee wrongful death attorney as soon after the death as possible to ensure that your right to pursue compensation is protected.
If you believe you are the survivor of a wrongful death, it is in your best interest to consult with the experienced Tennessee wrongful death attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.