When Your Loved One Is Killed in an Auto Accident
While no amount of money can ever compensate you for the accidental death of a loved one, an impaired or otherwise faulty driver who caused a car crash should answer for his or her negligence. The surviving family of someone killed by another's negligence can maintain an action on behalf of the deceased, and seek damages for the death.
Under Oklahoma law, there are specific rules concerning which family member can sue — and whom they can sue for wrongful death compensation. Wrongful death claims can often be complex, lengthy and difficult for a family still grieving to prosecute. In order to enable eligible relatives to file the wrongful death suit, personal injury attorneys representing the victim’s family also need to understand the probate laws to determine which heirs of the deceased can sue under the circumstances.
Generally, a surviving spouse, where applicable, has priority over the decedent's parents, children, or other relatives to file suit for the decedent's wrongful death. Under most circumstances, a surviving family member cannot sue another surviving family member for the death of their loved one.
Subject to the specifics of the case, potential compensation for family members’ economic and emotional pain and suffering can include:
- The financial support the deceased would have provided his or her family based upon factors like age, earning potential and health
- Medical and funeral expenses
- Damages for lost companionship, in the case of a deceased child or parent
- Mental anguish and suffering
- Damages for the spouse’s loss of marital relations with the deceased (loss of consortium)
Parents can sue for the wrongful death of a minor child (under 18) who is unmarried — pursuing damages for the loss of the child-parent relationship and the monies spent by them for supporting the child until the time of the accident. In limited circumstances, a court may also impose punitive damages — damages meant to punish the defendant and dissuade other reckless parties from acting the same way in the future.
In order to preserve their rights, survivors must generally file a lawsuit within two years of the date of death. If they do not file on time, they might permanently forfeit their chance for compensation.
We are committed to compassionate representation for Oklahoma families who have lost a loved one. If you have any questions about your personal tragedy, contact The Barkett Law Firm in Tulsa.