When a loved one dies unexpectedly, it can leave you with a lot of questions, especially if someone else’s negligence played a role in your loved one’s death. How will you pay for your loved one’s remaining medical bills and get by without their income? And is there anything you can do to get justice and hold the negligent person or party responsible?
In this article, we’ll try to answer some of those questions and explain how the wrongful death lawyers at Atkins & Markoff might be able to help if someone’s negligence has put your family in this terrible situation.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
When someone’s negligent or malicious acts cause or contribute to a loved one’s death, you might have a wrongful death claim. These claims can come from a wide variety of circumstances, including:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Drunk and drugged driving
- Medical malpractice
- Product liability claims involving dangerous or defective products
- Elder and nursing home abuse
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the deceased victim’s loved ones file a lawsuit on his or her behalf, seeking compensation for the pain, suffering, and losses that the victim suffered. The defendant in the lawsuit can be a person, but it can also be a corporation, government agency, or another type of entity.
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Note that a wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit that exists separate from any criminal charges that the negligent party might face.
And survivors might have their own claims for loss of companionship, loss of services, and pain and suffering.
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Oklahoma
To file a wrongful death lawsuit, you must first open an estate since you’re filing a wrongful death claim on behalf of your deceased loved one. Any compensation you recover in a wrongful death claim will go to your loved one’s estate. After that, the court will distribute it according to Oklahoma’s inheritance laws and based on how the estate was set up.
To open an estate, you’ll need to file a series of documents with the probate court, appoint a personal representative, and comply with Oklahoma’s probate laws. If there is a valid estate plan, your loved one might have named someone as his or her personal representative. If they didn’t leave a will, you’ll have to choose someone to act as the personal representative. Usually, this will be the deceased person’s spouse, child, parent, or sibling.
Next, you’ll need to file insurance claims with all the relevant policies, which might include a reckless driver’s liability insurance policy, a negligent doctor’s malpractice insurer, or a manufacturer’s commercial liability policy.
Don’t worry if all this sounds complex — an experienced wrongful death lawyer should be able to guide you through the entire process. You and your attorney will complete a series of documents that outline your claims and the damages. If you can’t resolve your claims out of court through a settlement, then your lawyer may have to file lawsuits on behalf of your loved one’s estate and any other injured parties.
Are There Time Limits on Wrongful Death Claims?
Like all personal injury claims, wrongful death cases have a statute of limitations. If you don’t file your lawsuit within the period established by the statute of limitations, then you’ll lose your right to compensation.
In Oklahoma, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years. If two years sounds like plenty of time, keep in mind that wrongful death claims take a lot of time to prepare and investigate. If you wait until the last minute, it might be impossible to open an estate, appoint a personal representative, and file a lawsuit before the deadline expires.
If you have questions about the statute of limitations in your claim, contact the wrongful death attorneys at Atkins & Markoff right away.
How Much Is my Wrongful Death Claim Worth?
You can’t put a price on your loss, and no amount of money will make things right after someone else’s negligent actions create a tragedy. However, a wrongful death claim may be able to help ease your financial stress so you can focus on grieving and addressing your emotional needs. These claims also sometimes help families achieve a sense of justice and closure.
However, before you file a wrongful death claim, it’s important to understand the potential value of the claim. The best way to get an accurate idea of the value of your claim is to consult an experienced wrongful death lawyer.
The value of your wrongful death claim is tied to the damages involved in your case. Courts and juries can award a variety of damages in a wrongful death lawsuit, including compensation for:
- Lost income
- Medical bills related to the wrongful death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Punitive damages, if the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent or intentional
Make sure you keep copies of all your loved one’s medical expenses and funeral-related bills. This information will help your wrongful death lawyer calculate the damages in your claim.
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When you choose the experienced attorneys at Atkins & Markoff to handle your wrongful death claim, we’ll start by listening to your story and asking questions. Once we understand your situation, we’ll start investigating your claims, which might involve analyzing medical records, consulting with experts, and interviewing witnesses. Based on our findings and the insurance coverage involved in a specific claim, we’ll advise you about your legal options and fight to get you fair compensation.
Atkins & Markoff: We Advocate for Accident Victims and Their Families
If you recently lost a loved one due to someone’s negligence or reckless behavior, contact us for a free, no-risk consultation. A member of our wrongful death team will listen to your story and help you understand your legal rights. To schedule your free consultation, either fill out our easy online contact form or call us at 405-607-8757.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.