Under any circumstances, the death of a loved one is difficult to deal with. It only adds unnecessary trauma when someone dies as a result of another’s wrongful act or negligence. The thought that this loss may have been avoided if only the responsible party would have acted differently.
An Oklahoma wrongful death attorney at BDIW Law knows the turmoil left in the aftermath of a wrongful death. We confront wrongful death claims with compassion and tact, knowing we can never fully heal this wound, but we can help alleviate some of the burdens associated with the loss.
In these unfortunate situations, BDIW Law’s experienced team of wrongful death lawyers in Oklahoma can explain how these claims work. That starts with examining the case to find out who was responsible, filing the civil claim against the responsible parties, to ultimately negotiating and recovering compensation.
When an Accident Becomes a Wrongful Death
No civil lawsuits or criminal charges will come from a death if it is classified as an accident. An accident becomes a wrongful death if someone else’s negligence caused an accident that could have otherwise been prevented.
An example of an accident could be if a loved one drives their vehicle too fast for the conditions, and they lose control of the car and crash into a tree—this is a fatal accident. If a loved one is driving home from work, and another driver recklessly handles their car, loses control, and crashes into the loved one—this is both a fatal accident and a wrongful death.
In an Oklahoma wrongful death case, the driver can be held liable, and the personal representative has the right to file a lawsuit for the decedent (the deceased loved one). Compensation can be sought for the pain and suffering the decedent experienced before their death and for any financial and emotional scars the decedent’s family suffered because of the death.
Incidents that Lead to Wrongful Death
Both fatal accidents and wrongful death lawsuits are usually seen in a variety of dangerous incidents. Some of these include:
- Vehicle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Construction accidents
- Unsafe premises accidents
- Defective medical devices
- Medical malpractice
- Defective product accidents
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omplexities of Wrongful Death Claims vs. Personal Injury Claims
Wrongful death claims differ from personal injury claims in several ways. There are some considerations and complexities unique to wrongful death claims, including:
- Wrongful death cases can coexist with criminal cases. Occasionally, a criminal case will be brought against the people or entities that were negligent in the wrongful death lawsuit. Normally, a criminal case is heard first and, if the defendants are found guilty, evidence and conviction can be used in the civil claim.
- In order to be successful, a wrongful death claim has to prove liability or a degree of liability. Criminal cases need a unanimous decision to find a defendant guilty, but a civil claim only has the burden of proof to convince the court that the defendant was negligent in some way that resulted in the wrongful death.
- Determining damages can be difficult when weighing expenses and what the victim would have earned if the fatal accident never happened, not to mention the emotional toll the loss has taken on the decedent’s family. And the court can also impose punitive damages when a defendant was intentionally malicious or found especially reckless.
efining a Personal Representative in a Wrongful Death Case
In Oklahoma, the victim’s personal representative can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent’s family or heirs. The personal representative or executor and the heirs are often named in the victim’s will. These could be family members or someone appointed to oversee the estate plan.
If the decedent did not have a will or an estate plan naming executors and heirs or if the personal representative does not wish to hold the role, Oklahoma statutes allow the courts to determine a personal representative and the heirs. Beneficiaries typically include:
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klahoma Wrongful Death Damages
The damages in a wrongful death case can be complicated to calculate. The survivors of a wrongful death could never receive enough compensation to compare to the value of the person’s life that they lost. But compensation can help relieve some of the stress and financial strain the loss has put on the family.
The types of damages that compensation can be recovered for are either:
- Economic Damages – These are the expenses that can be quantified.
- Non-Economic Damages – These are not able to be quantified but compensate for conditions like grief, loss, and mental anguish.
In some cases, a court will order the plaintiff to pay punitive or exemplary damages. This usually happens to punish the plaintiff for egregious acts. It is also intended to warn potential offenders of a negligent or reckless act in the future.
Oklahoma law offers a list of economic and non-economic damages that survivors of the victim may be entitled to. These could include:
- Medical expenses for the decedent
- Burial costs
- Mental pain and suffering of the decedent before death
- Loss of consortium of the surviving spouse
- Loss of companionship for the decedent’s children and parents
- Pecuniary losses or future wages and earnings lost because of death
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The defendants in a wrongful death claim can be individuals, groups of people, businesses, and companies. On top of overwhelming grief, many families are confronted with an onslaught of medical expenses and funeral costs. In many cases, the horrible event has left families without their main source of income and in financial straits.
At BDIW Law, our Oklahoma wrongful death lawyers are ready to dedicate our efforts into helping you recover the maximum compensation you deserve. Our reputation and successful record come from decades of fighting for our clients in court and negotiating with insurance companies to get the best settlement possible.
If you are suffering because someone’s wrongful actions caused a loved one’s death, we are here to help you hold the responsible parties accountable. Contact BDIW Law’s wrongful death attorneys in Oklahoma for an initial free consultation.
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