Memphis Wrongful Death Lawyers
Filing Wrongful Death Claims in Tennessee
One of the most painful experiences a person can go through is the loss of a loved one – especially when the loss is sudden and unexpected. After an accident, you may be feeling a wide range of emotions that can leave you feeling lost and overwhelmed. Your family deserves to grieve with one another during this time, but if your loved one died after an accident, you’re likely dealing with outstanding medical bills, funeral expenses, and more. Dunk Law Firm can relieve you of these burdens by helping you file a wrongful death claim against the entity responsible. Our wrongful death lawyers in Memphis have recovered millions of dollars for our clients, including those seeking justice for the death of their family members. You can trust our wrongful death law firm to put your needs first and achieve optimal results so you have one less thing to worry about.
Contact our team online or by phone at (901) 231-4779 to schedule your free consultation with our caring wrongful death attorneys in Memphis today. We’re happy to walk your family through the steps of filing a claim.
On This Page:
- What Is Wrongful Death?
- How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit?
- What Damages Are Awarded in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
- Does Tennessee Have a Wrongful Death Damages Cap?
- What Is the Average Payout In a Wrongful Death Suit?
- What Happens in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
- Do Most Wrongful Death Suits Go to Trial?
- What Are Your Chances of Winning a Wrongful Death Suit?
- What is the Most Common Cause of Wrongful Death?
- Who gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
- What's the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and a Survival Action?
- How Common Is Wrongful Death in Tennessee?
- Recommended Reading
The Tennessee Code describes wrongful death as death that is caused by “the wrongful act, fault, or omission of another.” In the realm of personal injury law, individuals can file claims again another person, group of people, or an entity if their negligence resulted in the death of an innocent party. Wrongful death claims can be filed if the deceased died in an accident, or if they were injured in the accident and later died from their injuries.
According to the statute of limitations laid out in Tennessee Code Section 28-3-104, surviving family members have up to 1 year following their loved one's death to file a civil wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. This is a particularly short timeframe for filing a lawsuit, so as difficult as it is, we strongly encourage you to begin speaking to an accidental death lawyer as soon as possible.
When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, surviving family members may be able to receive compensation on behalf of their loved one for the following damages:
- Any pain and suffering that the victim experienced prior to their death
- Medical expenses for treating your loved one prior to their death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of income or inheritance that would have come from the deceased
- Loss of companionship, consortium, guidance, leadership, etc.
Yes. When it comes to recovering compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or loss of companionship, victims are only allowed to recover up to $750,000 in personal injury lawsuits. However, there is currently no cap on how much compensation a victim can receive for economic damages (such as medical bills, burial expenses, etc.)
The average settlement for a wrongful death lawsuit will vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the death and what kind of negligence was demonstrated by the offending party. In some cases, your settlement may be valued at under a million, but sometimes these types of claims can settle for several million dollars. To get a better idea of what your settlement may be worth, you can reach out to the team at Dunk Law Firm and discuss your claim in a free, no-obligation consultation.
When you hire a wrongful death lawsuit attorney to represent you in your wrongful death case, they will guide you through the following:
- Investigation - Looking into the evidence and details surrounding your loved one's death and building a strong case that proves their death was wrongful
- Negotiation - Our team will get in contact with the company or individual responsible for your loved one's death and will work to negotiate a favorable settlement on your behalf
- Preparing for Trial - If negotiations fail to provide a favorable result, we will prepare to take your case to trial and fight for the compensation you and your family deserve; this involves the discovery process, identifying potential witnesses and experts, etc.
- Going to Trial - Finally, we will take your case to trial and fight for your rights before a judge and jury
In general, the majority of personal injury and wrongful death claims reach a settlement outside of court. This is because going to court is expensive for both sides, and it's generally in both parties' best interests to settle rather than go to trial. However, just as with any other type of personal injury lawsuit, there is always a chance that your case will need to go to trial in order to obtain a fair settlement. Our team will make every effort to obtain a fair settlement for you without having to go to trial, but at the end of the day we are prepared to fight for you and your family in court if that's what it takes to get you the compensation you deserve.
Every wrongful death case is different, so it's impossible for us to guess about your chances of success without first knowing the details of your case. In general, if we are able to prove the following things during a trial, you stand a good chance of winning your wrongful death suit:
- That the defendant owed your loved one a duty of care and had a responsibility to act in a manner that didn't endanger others
- That the defendant violated that duty of care by behaving in a negligent or reckless manner that put your loved one in danger and caused their death
- That you and your family suffered damages (financial or emotional) as a result of your family member's death
If the above elements are in place and able to be proven in a court of law, you stand a good chance of winning your wrongful death suit.
Sadly, there are a variety of different factors each year that commonly result in wrongful death. Some of the most common causes include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Workplace accidents
- Defective products
- Dangerous premises
- Assault or criminal acts
Causes of Fatal Auto Accidents
Auto accidents are a leading cause of fatalities in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.35 million people are killed in road crashes each year, meaning that approximately 3,700 people die on the road every day. Despite the fact that outside factors, such as rain or snow, can contribute to accidents, the reality is that most accidents are caused by human error and are entirely preventable.
Common causes of car accidents that can result in serious injuries and fatalities include:
- Speeding: Accidents involving speeding are more likely to cause catastrophic injuries and deaths due to the amount of force applied. When drivers speed, they’re more likely to lose control of their vehicles, especially when making turns, and their response time is reduced so they’re less able to react to a road hazard in a timely manner.
- Drunk driving: Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol impairs a driver’s ability to think clearly and make safe judgments. Drunk drivers often indulge in risky behavior like speeding, driving through red lights and stop signs, and changing lanes quickly and without signaling.
Additionally, auto accidents involving trucks are more likely to cause fatalities due to the size and weight of trucks like 18-wheelers and rigs. While the average passenger car weighs 3,000 pounds, a truck can weigh more than 80,000 pounds. Motorcyclists also suffer more severe injuries and fatalities in accidents because of their lack of outer protection like airbags and seat belts.
U.S. states have their own statutes that dictate who is legally allowed to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased person. In some states, only a personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file a claim, but according to Tennessee's wrongful death statute, multiple parties have the option.
The following parties can file wrongful death claims to recover damages:
- Surviving spouse
- Children or next of kin
- Personal representative
- Surviving natural or adoptive parents
- Estate administrator
How Are the Funds Divided?
If there is only a surviving spouse filing for compensation, the surviving spouse receives all of the money. However, if there is a surviving spouse and surviving children of the deceased, they split the money between them. The exception to this rules is that the surviving spouse is always entitled to 1/3 of the settlement, regardless of how many surviving children there are. In cases like this the spouse would receive 1/3 of the settlement and the remaining amount would be divided evenly amongst the surviving children.
If you wish to recover damages like funeral and burial expenses, loss of income, loss of companionship, and more, it’s best to act quickly to ensure you don’t miss a deadline and lose your opportunity to be compensated. The at-fault driver or other party who caused your loved one’s death must be held accountable for their actions – our attorneys can help.
You may have heard the term "survival action" or "survival claim" in relation to wrongful death lawsuits. However, there is a slight difference between these two types of lawsuits. While a wrongful death claim pursues compensation on the behalf of the surviving family members, a survival action seeks compensation on behalf of the deceased's estate. Additionally, this type of claim may also pursue compensation on behalf of any pain or suffering the deceased individual experienced prior to their death.
In 2019 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that Accidental Deaths were the 3rd leading cause of death in Tennessee. The state of Tennessee reported over 6,100 accidental deaths in 2020. They also reported that over 1,200 deaths were a result of motor vehicle accidents in 2020. Sadly, wrongful death is an everyday occurrence, with thousands of individuals losing loved ones every year because of preventable negligence. Our team knows that no amount of money will bring your loved one back, but we are determined to obtain justice on their behalf.
Involved in a fatal accident in Memphis, TN? The sooner you call, the sooner your family can reach closure. Get started on your case today by calling our Memphis wrongful death attorneys at (901) 231-4779.
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