Wrongful death cases in Oklahoma allow surviving family members to obtain repayment for costs of a death that resulted from someone else’s negligent actions or intentional behavior. Such a case can be filed by a spouse, children or a representative member of the deceased’s estate. In instances where there is no surviving spouse or children, siblings or parents may be able to file a wrongful death suit.
Grieving family members may want to know exactly what sort of compensation they can get for their loss. This concept is known as “damages” in legal terms. To learn more about these different types of damages available in a wrongful death case and how they are calculated, read on.
Damages and Expenses Encountered Directly by the Deceased or Their Family
Oklahoma law regarding wrongful death outlines several types of damages available to particular survivors of the deceased. Among them are listed “medical and burial expenses.”
What this provision means is that any expenses directly related to the injury or incident are recoverable by the survivors. As an example, an employee being forced to use a work delivery vehicle that the employer knew had a faulty brake system could be critically injured in an accident. The cost of medical evacuation, emergency surgery, life support, medication and other medical expenses could be considered damages. Funeral and burial expenses after the victim’s death are considered damages as well.
To put this type of damages into more concrete terms: any expenses between the time of the injury and the victim’s eventual death can potentially be lumped in this category. So, if a victim contracted mesothelioma and spent significant sums receiving breathing treatments, surgery, cancer treatments and other procedures, the survivors could potentially recover the entire loss from the time of the victim’s exposure to their eventual tragic death.
Financial Loss to Survivors
Another type of damages provided for by Oklahoma wrongful death statutes is direct financial loss to survivors. If survivors can determine the exact monetary contribution the deceased provided and multiply it by the number of remaining years the contribution would have been likely to continue, they can pursue damages for the entire financial loss.
As an example, a deceased wife who had earned $65,000 a year and contributed $58,000 of that every year to the household and who was assumed to have been working for at least 22 more years would equate to 22 times $58,000, which equals $1,276,000 in damages.
The same formula can potentially apply to smaller contributions for other family members. So, if the same mother paid a $65 monthly water bill for her parents, then 65 times 12 months times 22 years equals $17,160.
Emotional Suffering and Loss of Consortium
“Loss of consortium” is a legal term meaning that the survivors lost out on the emotional companionship the deceased provided them. Combined with emotional suffering, the court will attempt to quantify in monetary terms exactly how much grief the surviving family has experienced and contribute this sum to the potential damages.
In instances where the defendant was found to have committed acts of a severely malicious, dangerous or negligent manner, the court may decide to add on extra damages as a means to discourage other individuals of engaging in the same behavior. For instance, in the above example of a delivery driver being forced to use a vehicle with faulty brakes, the court may wish to discourage other employers from failing in their duties to provide safe equipment to employees by adding on punitive damages.
Pursuing a Wrongful Death Case in Oklahoma
If you are a family member or estate representative of someone who has passed and you feel that their death may have been caused by inappropriate behaviors, you can pursue the damages outlined above to receive compensation for your loss. Money cannot make up for the absence of a loved one, but no one should have to suffer financially as a result of the improper actions of another.