When a family member is lost, the grief is unbearable. Especially when the death is caused by the carelessness of another. Anger, hopelessness, and grief become daily feelings. A family death caused by the negligence of another is not only grievous, but confounding. Why did this happen? How do we move forward? Unfortunately, no attorney can make those feelings go away. What we can do is get you and your family the justice and compensation you are legally entitled to.
If you would like to speak with us further about a wrongful death claim, please contact us online or anytime at 931-444-6920 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. During the consultation, we will discuss your case at length and come up with a plan of action. We offer virtual consultations online. We work on a contingency fee basis, so it costs no money to hire us and we only get paid if we recover money for you.
Below are links to the questions most frequently asked by wrongful death clients:
- What are the beginning steps to a wrongful death case?
With over thirty years of combined experience, RedStone Law relentlessly investigates accidents, determines the facts and the at-fault party. Depending on the type of case, we usually obtain various evidentiary materials during the beginning of our investigation, such as:
- The police report, police photographs, and all other available materials from the appropriate law enforcement agency;
- The 911 dispatch tapes;
- All EMS and other medical records;
- Witness statements from our team’s interviews;
- Scene photographs, including photographs of the accident vehicles, defective product or other mechanist of injury;
- Installation and maintenance records;
- Background checks on the individuals involved in the accident;
- Reports of any prior accidents or complaints;
- Accident reports by the company involved in the accident;
- Inspection records;
- Video footage from any security cameras;
- Licensure information;
- Black box data;
- Log books, driver files, trip tickets, fuel receipts, bills of lading, and other trucking accident related documents
- Who has the right to file a wrongful death claim?
The answer to this question may vary depending on certain facts, but generally, the order of priority is as follows:
- Surviving spouse: if the decedent (deceased) was married, the surviving spouse usually has the superior right to pursue a wrongful death claim. If the spouse is not legally competent (e.g., suffers from a serious mental defect), the court can deny the surviving spouse the right to bring a wrongful death claim. Other circumstances, such as the parties being in the middle of a divorce or having been separated for years prior to the death, may result in the court denying the spouse the right to prosecute the case. If that occurs, the court appoints another family member to pursue the claim. The surviving spouse can also waive the right of priority.
- Children of the decedent: if there is no surviving spouse, the children of the decedent have the right to pursue the wrongful death claim. If the children are minors, the court appoints a guardian of the children to pursue the claim on their behalf.
- Parents of the decedent: if the decedent is a minor or unmarried with no children, the parents of the decedent hold the right to pursue a wrongful death claim. If the parents are divorced and the child is a minor, then primary custodial parent has the right to pursue the claim.
- Executor or Executrix: if the decedent left a will and named an executor or executrix, that person also has the right to pursue a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent’s estate.
- Administrator or Administratrix: if the decedent died without a will, anyone may ask the court to be appointed as administrator or administratrix of the decedent’s estate and then file suit in the name of the estate. If more than one applies to be the administrator or administratrix, the court will appoint the most qualified individual after considering such factors as the relationship between the applicant and the decedent, the abilities of the applicants, etc.
Under Tennessee law, only one wrongful death claim may be pursued. If multiple parties file suit, the court consolidates the cases and makes a determination of who controls the litigation. Generally, courts give the most weight to the rights of priority as set forth in the statute. Courts also consider other factors, such as the relationship between the applicant and the decedent, the abilities of the applicants, who filed suit first, etc.
A couple of other things to note: (1) the person who has priority to pursue the claim is the person who selects an attorney to pursue the claim; (2) the person who has the right to pursue a claim does not determine who has a right to damages. This link outlines the persons entitled to the proceeds of a successful wrongful death claim [link to: if the money is recovered, who gets it?]
If you would like to speak with us about a wrongful death claim, please contact us online or call anytime at (931)-444-6920.
- What types of damages are recoverable in a wrongful death case?
In Tennessee and Kentucky, the following types of damages are generally available:
- Medical bills for treatment of the injuries resulting in death;
- Funeral expenses;
- Conscious pain and suffering from the date of the injury until the date of death;
- Loss of earning capacity between the date of injury and death (this includes services of a homemaker);
- Loss of enjoyment of life between the date of injury and death;
- The pecuniary value of life, which includes the present value of the decedent’s lost future earning capacity less those living expenses necessary to maintain the decedent’s person so that they can work. In short, the amount the decedent would have earned over the remaining course of his or her life less the amount of money it would have taken for basic necessities. Pecuniary value of life also includes loss of consortium damages. Loss of consortium is the loss of love, society, and affection from the decedent. If the decedent was married at the time of death, the surviving spouse can recover damages for the loss of consortium of the decedent. In cases involving the death of a parent, the children may also recover loss of consortium damages.
- If the death was caused by reckless or intentional misconduct, the family of the deceased may also seek punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct in the future.
While there is no minimum amount of damages that can be recovered, there are limits on the amount of money that may be recovered. For all injuries and death that occur on or after October 1, 2011, loss of consortium damages are limited to $750,000 unless the decedent has a minor child, where damages are capped at $1,000,000.
Similarly, for cases arising after October 1, 2011, punitive damages are limited to $500,000 or two times the compensatory damages, whichever is great. Under some circumstances, there is no limit on punitive damages and, in others, punitive damages are not available.
The amount of recoverable damages is entirely dependent on the facts of each case. RedStone Law helps you evaluate your damages. We only get paid if we recover money for you and your family. The firm advances all case expenses, so you are never out of pocket to pursue a wrongful death claim. If you would like to discuss your case in a free, no-obligation consultation, please contact us online or call anytime at 931-444-6920.
- If the money is recovered, who gets it?
The law, rather than the decedent’s will, controls who receives any funds recovered from a successful wrongful death claim. The money from the claim is distributed as though the decedent passed without a will and pursuant to the wrongful death statutes. Here are the common scenarios:
If the decedent is married at the time of death, the surviving spouse is entitled to all of the proceeds from the wrongful death suit.
If the decedent was married with children, the money is divided equally between the surviving spouse and the children with a caveat: the spouse is entitled to at least one-third of the recovery.
If the decedent was unmarried with no children at the time of death, his or her parents are entitled to all of the money from the claim.
Under very limited and unusual circumstances, siblings of the decedent may recover wrongful death proceeds. A parent who has not paid child support or fostered any kind of relationship with a deceased child may lose the right to recover wrongful death proceeds.
Questions regarding how the proceeds of a successful wrongful death claim are distributed may be directed to one of our attorneys. You may contact us online or call anytime of the day at (931)-444-6920.
- How much time do you have to pursue a wrongful death claim?
Under Kentucky and Tennessee law, suit must be filed within our year from the date of the original injury that resulted in death. Generally, it is not the date of death that triggers the start of the one year time period, but the date of the injury.
While the law allows one year to pursue a claim, you should not wait to contact an attorney. With each day that passes after an accident, the memories of important witnesses fade, and other valuable evidence may become irretrievable.
If you would like to speak with us about a potential wrongful death claim, please contact us online or call anytime at 931-444-6920. We offer a free, no-obligation initial consultation, all case expenses are advanced by us, and we do not get paid unless we recover money for you. During the consultation, we will go over your case at length, advise you of your legal rights, and happily answer any questions that you have.