Blog of Charles Bryan Alred
My Husband Died After Being Struck by a Car – Is This A Wrongful Death Claim?
Posted on March 5, 2017
The death of a loved one is always a tragedy. When that death arises from a sudden car accident, it can be difficult to comprehend what happened. It is impossible not to think about all of the times you spent together and the opportunities you had until they were suddenly taken from you.
When the deceased contributed financially to their family, the aftermath of their death can be even more dire. Without that person’s wages, their spouse, parent, or child may be left to figure out how to pay the bills associated with the accident and normal household expenses.
If someone else caused the decedent’s death, then the estate or family may be able to bring a wrongful death suit against the party at fault. The financial recovery from the suit enables the payment of medical bills, funeral expenses, and even costs the deceased would have covered in the future.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Under the Oklahoma Wrongful Death Statute, whenever a person’s death is caused by a wrongful act, such as negligence, in such a way that had that person lived, they would have had a cause of action against the party at fault, then the decedent’s estate or family can bring a similar claim. For example, had a pedestrian been hit by a car but not killed, that person could have sued the driver for damages. When the person is killed by the collision, that claim remains.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?
Oklahoma law states the suit should be brought by the personal representative of the deceased in the names of their surviving family, such as their parents, spouse, and children. The surviving family members and their ages should be listed in the complaint.
The personal representative is often the executor of the estate. However, if the person died without a will, the court can appoint someone.
Who Recovers From a Wrongful Death Claim?
Only certain family and the decedent’s estate can recover damages from a wrongful death lawsuit. Parents, spouses, and children can make a claim for damages, but extended relatives such as aunts, uncles, and cousins are unlikely to be able to recover. However, this can depend on whether or not the individual was a dependent of the deceased.
If the deceased was married, the damages are mostly awarded by the court to the surviving spouse and then any other relations. The proportion of the damages awarded to each person will depend on their relationship to and dependency on the deceased.