The death of a loved one is a terrible loss. When this loss occurs due to someone else’s negligence, it could fall into the category of a wrongful death, which can make your loved one’s death more of a travesty and even more devastating. The emotions can be overwhelming, ranging from sorrow and anger to confusion and helplessness.
The legal complexities that arise after a wrongful death may add to the confusion. In this guide, we’ll explore what wrongful death means, provide some examples, and outline how attorneys for wrongful death can support you through the legal process.
The team at Maples, Nix and Diesselhorst has worked with Oklahomans who have experienced the loss of a loved one due to negligence of another for many years. As compassionate, experienced advocates for our clients, we help you navigate through the legal complexities and help you understand the process as you seek justice.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death refers to a situation where a person’s death is caused by someone else’s negligence in doing, or failing to do, something that they have a duty to do. It’s not merely a legal term but an emotional journey that opens the possibility for surviving family members to seek justice and compensation for their loss. This could include situations like death by hospital negligence, traffic accidents, and much more.
Different Types of Wrongful Death Cases
There are several contexts in which wrongful death might occur:
- Medical Malpractice: Including hospital negligence, medical providers, including nursing errors, surgical errors, misdiagnosis, failure to treat, etc.
- Vehicle Accidents: Including car crashes, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, etc.
- Workplace Incidents: Such as industrial accidents, mining accidents, construction accidents, etc.
- Premises Liability: Such as fatal slips and falls, inadequate security leading to fatal injuries, etc.
While there are many contexts in which wrongful death may occur, a few criteria must be met to be considered wrongful death. In simple terms, if someone negligently causes someone else’s death by something they did or failed to do when they had a legal obligation to act differently, that might qualify as a basis for a wrongful death action.
A wrongful death is one that is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another person when that act or omission would have permitted the victim to file a personal injury lawsuit. To learn more about what qualifies as wrongful death, read our article about the topic.
The Emotional Impact of Wrongful Death
Beyond the legal definitions, wrongful death can lead to profound emotional trauma. Feelings of anger, disbelief, guilt, and despair may accompany the grief. These emotions may manifest in various ways, such as depression, anxiety, or even physical health problems.
Ways to find support following a wrongful death:
- Family and Friends: Lean on those close to you for emotional support.
- Professional Counselors: Therapists specializing in grief can provide personalized help.
- Support Groups: Connecting with others who have experienced similar losses can be healing; many times, these groups are on social media sites.
- Trusted Attorneys:
For many, the profound emotional impact of wrongful death can leave the family or loved ones of the deceased feeling shocked and confused. It is understandable that you wouldn’t want to jump into a complex legal proceeding. Still, it’s important to remember that you don’t have unlimited time to seek justice, and your support system can be helpful in pursuing justice–especially when you don’t feel able to do it alone.
In Oklahoma, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death case is two years. On the surface, this may seem like a long time. However, in our experience, that time can elapse faster than you might think. There are a lot of steps that have to be taken to investigate and build a wrongful death case. It is important that if you think you have a wrongful death case, you contact Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst for a free consultation.
Wrongful Death Examples
Let’s dig into a few detailed examples to understand wrongful death better. These examples are not comprehensive but aim to help you understand the context within which wrongful death may occur.
- Death by Hospital Negligence: You arrive at the hospital not feeling well, and they fail to do the appropriate tests, send you home without treatment, and you die.
- Car Accident: A distracted driver texting while driving causes a head-on collision that results in death.
- Surgical Errors: You go to the doctor for a routine colonoscopy; during the procedure, the doctor perforates your bowel without knowing it, and you return time after time with pain and are ignored. You become septic and die.
- Workplace Accidents: An employer’s failure to maintain safety equipment leads to a fatal accident.
While these are just a few simple examples, there are many more cases our team of experienced wrongful death attorneys have sought justice for in Oklahoma. With decades of combined experience, we have successfully supported the fight for justice for many Oklahoma families who have experienced the loss of a loved one, resulting in a wrongful death case.
Role of Wrongful Death Attorneys
Seeking legal recourse can be daunting, requiring your courage to seek out information as to whether or not you have a wrongful death action on behalf of your loved one. Wrongful death attorneys are legal professionals who can guide you through this challenging time. We have a skilled team of OKC wrongful death lawyers who can be a reliable advocate for you and your family.
Finding the Right Attorney
Choosing an attorney is a critical decision that requires thoughtful consideration. We suggest as you begin your search, find an Oklahoma attorney who understands your needs and consider these criteria:
- Experience: Look for a proven track record in handling similar cases.
- Understanding: Ask questions and seek an empathetic attorney who listens and can make the process less stressful.
- Communication: Open, honest, transparent communication is the key
- Fees and Costs: Understand the financial aspects upfront can prevent surprises later.
The Process of Filing a Claim
The legal journey involves several stages, each with its own challenges. Generally speaking, your wrongful death claim will progress through these steps.
- Investigation: Our team will begin investigating the wrongful death. That will include gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and collaborating with experts.
- Filing a Petition: This is the formal initiation of the lawsuit. Our attorneys will file a claim with the court to initiate the legal proceedings.
- Discovery: Both sides exchange vital information, such as documents and depositions.
- Mediation or Trial: The case may settle or proceed to court.
Types of Damages in Wrongful Death
The void left by a departed loved one cannot always be quantified in monetary terms, but acknowledging their death’s impact on the lives of the surviving family members is crucial for the healing process. A few different types of damages may be considered when pursuing a wrongful death claim.
These damages may include:
- Economic Damages: Such as lost earnings, medical expenses, funeral costs, etc.
- Non-Economic Damages: Such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, etc.
- Punitive Damages: In Oklahoma, families may be awarded compensation for punitive damages if the death was caused by grossly negligent or egregious conduct.
Your experienced attorney on the Maples, Nix and Diesselhorst team will guide you through the damages your family should pursue and be a reliable source of information during the process.
Taking the Next Step
Wrongful death is a painful and complex reality that many families unfortunately face. The journey toward justice may be fraught with challenges, but closure and support are possible with compassionate, friendly, and trustworthy wrongful death attorneys. This guide is a starting point; consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney to explore your specific options and rights. Your healing begins with you having the courage to reach out to an experienced law firm.
If you face the devastating aftermath of the wrongful death of a loved one, remember that compassionate attorneys and staff are ready to stand by your side. We will tirelessly advocate for your rights and work diligently to secure the justice and compensation your family deserves. With our guidance, you can find strength and resilience as you navigate this challenging chapter of your life. Contact our team for a free consultation today.