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What is “Wrongful Death” in Oklahoma?

Posted on April 30, 2017

Wrongful death is the death caused by someone else’s misconduct or negligence, or by some intent to cause harm. This could include many situations, from car accidents and medical malpractice to nursing home abuse and intentional homicide. It is a legal action filed by survivors for their own losses. In the state of Oklahoma, you must be immediate family (wife, children, parents) of the deceased or a personal representative in order to file a wrongful death claim.

What must be proven in a wrongful death case?

The Plaintiff will have to prove three elements in a wrongful death case.

  1. Duty of Care- The Plaintiff must prove that the Defendant had a duty of care to the deceased. In most cases, this is easy to show, such as in a car accident or nursing home neglect. Other cases may be more challenging. For example, if the deceased consumed unprescribed pills at home which caused the death, the Plaintiff must prove that the Defendant (perhaps a doctor or caregiver) had an obligation to provide sufficient care so the deceased would not consume the pills.
  2. Breach of Duty- The Plaintiff must prove that the Defendant breached the duty of care. For example, the Plaintiff must show that the Defendant did not, in fact, provide the deceased with knowledge about the unprescribed pills. If the deceased took the pills despite the warning, then the Defendant may not have breached his/her duty. Most disagreement in these cases revolve around this issue of whether a duty was breached.
  3. Causation- The Plaintiff must prove that the breach of duty was the cause of the death. For example, if the deceased took the unprescribed pills and this caused his/her immediate death, the Defendant’s breach of duty would be the immediate cause of the deceased’s death.

Remedies to Pursue

Special damages and penalties are usually sought by those filing a wrongful death claim. This includes things like financial support, medical bills, pain and suffering, and funeral expenses. Furthermore, if the decedent had dependents, wages and parental guidance will be taken into major consideration under pecuniary injuries.

In a wrongful death case, your attorney will marshal specific information to show the full extent of losses as a result of the family member’s death. In many cases, showing the full extent of the loss (and fair financial amount due) is even more contentious than proving the underlying fault in the case.

Contact Oklahoma’s Most Trusted Wrongful Death Lawyer

To learn more about wrongful death rules in Oklahoma, please reach out to Charles Bryan Alred, PC. We help families in Oklahoma, and other nearby communities with many legal issues, including wrongful death matters. Contact us today to see how we can help in your case.