About Wrongful Death Lawsuits
The loss of a loved one can have far-reaching effects for every member of the family. The devastation is emotional as well as financial. The family may suffer a long-term loss of income, loss of companionship and household support, as well as grief, shock, and ongoing psychological trauma.
In Oklahoma, wrongful death is defined simply as a death caused by the wrongful act of another. The act can be intentional, reckless, or merely negligent. State laws differ regarding civil claims for wrongful death, but Oklahoma recognizes the impact a fatal accident has on the extended family. In many states, damages for loss of a loved one are recoverable only by the spouse and children of the victim, but in Oklahoma, compensation can also be recovered by the parents of the deceased. This is true whether the victim was a child or an adult at the time of death.
In Oklahoma, wrongful death is defined simply as a death caused by the wrongful act of another. The act can be intentional, reckless, or merely negligent.
There are many types of fatal accidents that may involve negligence or reckless disregard for safety. It is the attorney’s job to determine who or what was to blame for the accident, whether it was a person, a piece of equipment, or a prescription drug. Common causes for wrongful death include:
- Motor vehicle accidents, including semi-truck and motorcycle accidents - These type of accidents are known to be a leading cause of injury and death in the United States. While seat belts and helmets have reduced fatalities, the actions of careless or distracted drivers continue to present a grave danger to others on the road. Driving under the influence (DUI) causes thousands of traffic deaths each year, and DUI cases tend to result in high-dollar wrongful death jury awards.
- Hospital error and other medical malpractice incidents - Medical malpractice statistics reveal hospital and practitioner mistakes are much more common than we would like to believe. If a doctor or healthcare facility makes an error that results in a tragic death, a malpractice suit will often be filed by the family. These cases have historically produced notable multi-million dollar verdicts. A recent Florida case saw a man awarded $15.6 million for the wrongful death of his wife, who died of cervical cancer after a lab technician misread her pap test as negative for malignancy.
- Construction and industrial accidents - Some professions are inherently more dangerous than others. Construction is one industry that sees numerous personal injury and wrongful death cases. Workers fall from scaffolding or are gravely hurt by machinery, equipment, electricity, and toxins. Workers’ compensation death benefits may be awarded, but third parties can also be found liable for negligence or defective products.
- Accidents involving dangerous and defective products - A classic example of a defective product was the Ford Pinto car, popular in the 1970s. After several Pintos exploded following minor rear-end collisions, it was found that the car’s exhaust system was faulty. Numerous wrongful death suits followed, including one that awarded $6 million to an injured 13-year-old victim who lost his mother in an explosion.
- Slip and fall and other premises liability incidents - When a slip and fall occurs because of an unsafe condition on public or private premises, the owner or occupier may be held liable. Many businesses, public venues, and private homeowners have been found liable for wrongful death because a safety hazard on the property caused a fatal accident.
- Criminal cases – Whether or not a violent attacker is found guilty of a crime, he or she can be held liable for civil damages. In the famous OJ Simpson case, the football celebrity was cleared of criminal charges for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, but the bereaved families were awarded $33.5 million in wrongful death damages.
Dedicated Legal Help
For more than three decades, the Tawwater Law Firm, PLLC has been providing compassionate legal help to families suffering in the aftermath of a wrongful death. We are dedicated to pursuing justice on behalf of victims. Our attorneys aggressively take on large insurance companies and other formidable opponents, and have attained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for our clients.
The statute of limitations for a wrongful death case in Oklahoma is two years, which means the case must be filed in court within two years of the date of death. In Oklahoma, wrongful death damages can be sought in two separate categories: on behalf of the deceased person and on behalf of surviving family members. The first category includes damages from the period prior to the death, meaning the victim's pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages attributable to the accident. The family is entitled to pursue additional damages for their losses, and these might include compensation for grief, loss of companionship and support, and funeral and burial expenses.
To help even the playing field for plaintiffs, we take cases on a contingency basis. This means you will not have to worry about out-of-pocket legal fees. We earn our fees when we obtain a settlement or jury award for you. We have an extensive network of resources and years of experience, and you can count on us to obtain the best possible outcome for your case. We encourage our grieving clients to focus on healing and rebuilding while they leave the insurance representatives and legal issues to us.
If your family has suffered a wrongful death due to the actions of another party, we share your outrage and offer our sincere sympathy. Contact Tawwater Law Firm, PLLC today for a free initial consultation.