According to Oklahoma Highway Safety, there were nearly 700 fatal accidents in Oklahoma in 2021. The loss of a loved one in an accident can be overwhelming for the family members left behind. In addition to dealing with the devastation of suddenly losing someone they love, they may also have to worry about paying bills and supporting their families.
If someone’s negligence, recklessness or an intentional action caused your loved one’s death, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased person who cannot file a personal injury claim for themselves.
Who can file a claim?
In Oklahoma, a personal representative of the person who passed away is the only one who can file a wrongful death claim. If the deceased had named an executor in the will, that executor is the personal representative. If there is no will, the court will have to appoint a personal representative. Typically, that will be a close family member.
What damages can I recover?
While the personal representative is the only one allowed to file suit, several parties may recover compensation, including surviving spouses, children, and parents of the deceased. These parties may recover damages for:
- Medical, burial, and/or funeral expenses.
- Loss of income/benefits the deceased would have earned if they were still alive.
- Pain and suffering experienced by deceased prior to death.
- Loss of consortium.
- Loss of companionship.
Filing your wrongful death claim
The personal representative of the deceased’s estate will typically have two years from the date of the deceased’s death to file suit. In most cases, a party will be liable for damages if they owed a duty of care to the deceased and their breach of that duty caused the deceased’s death.
For example, drivers owe a duty to other drivers to operate their vehicles safely. If a driver speeds through a red light and strikes another driver’s vehicle, and the other driver passes away as a result of the accident, the negligent driver may owe damages to the family of the deceased.