First, what does “wrongful death” mean? It means that “the death of one is caused by the wrongful act of another.” The death may have been caused by 1) intentional actions; 2) reckless actions; or 3) negligent actions (sometimes, failure to do perform an action that could have prevented the death). One way to think about wrongful death is that it is a form of personal injury lawsuit that the person might have filed if he or she had lived.
Second, who may file a wrongful death claim? Claims may be filed by the personal representative of the deceased. These are often spouses, but parents, children, and siblings may also file.
Third, is there a time limit in which a representative must file a claim for wrongful death? Most suits have a statute of limitations (a time after which a claim may not be brought), and wrongful death in Oklahoma is no exception. In our state, a claim must be filed within two years of the person’s death.
Fourth, what damages can be claimed? Oklahoma divides wrongful death into two categories. A suit can be filed for 1) damages suffered by the deceased person and 2) damages borne by the his or her family members as a result of the death.
Specifically, in the first category, a claimant can file for the deceased’s pain and suffering in the period from the injury or illness and the death and the loss of wages and benefits the deceased could have been expected to earn.
Claims for the second category can be filed for loss of companionship, grief, and also for reasonable funeral and burial costs.
Want to talk to a lawyer experienced in wrongful death cases? We can help you understand your rights under Oklahoma law, and defend them. To talk more about this, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks.