Wrongful death lawsuits in Tennessee offer recourse when someone’s negligence or misconduct results in another’s death. These civil cases allow certain individuals to seek monetary compensation for the death of a loved one.
Wrongful death lawsuits can arise in addition to criminal charges like murder or medical malpractice, but criminal charges do not have to be present for a wrongful death lawsuit, and the proceedings are legally separate.
For a wrongful death claim to be appropriate, someone must have died as a result of another’s negligence or intentional action, and the family must also be suffering financially as a result. A successful lawsuit could garner damages to compensate for that financial suffering. It can cover loss of financial support, costs of medical care or funeral care. It can also compensate for some of the emotional suffering the survivor experiences.
Survival action is an additional claim that often accompanies wrongful death lawsuits. Survival action seeks damages for any suffering the deceased experienced before death. It is essentially a personal injury claim which the surviving family, rather than the victim, files.
As FindLaw explains, to pursue a wrongful death claim, you must be a parent or spouse of the deceased, a child, next of kin or a personal representative. In other words, close friends, co-workers or employers typically may not pursue a claim. Likewise, unless they are the next of kin or a legal personal representative, siblings and extended family members may not file on behalf of their loved one.
Tennessee recently ruled that the rights of parents to pursue a claim overrides that of children, even if the spouse’s negligence contributed to the death.
Most claims are only eligible for one year after the death. After that, the time to file has expired except in a few unusual circumstances when a family member may receive additional time.