In the early morning hours of October 11, 2015, a 17-year-old driver was behind the wheel of a Mercedes on a divided road. As he went into a curve, the driver lost control of the car and hit a tree in the median strip. Upon impact, the rear of the car split from the front. One half went into the northbound lanes and the other into the southbound lanes. The driver and his 15-year-old passenger were killed. Investigators believe speed may have played a role in causing this tragedy. The results? Two young lives lost. The lives of their family and friends forever altered. But what about the legal implications of this occurrence? What must be done if the unthinkable happens? These questions are best answered by a skilled and knowledgeable Nashville personal injury attorney. No assignment of blame or financial award will erase the pain and suffering caused by the loss of a loved one. At the same time, the state of Tennessee recognizes the need for justice, in the form of compensation, in cases of wrongful death. What is wrongful death? Wrongful death is defined as “the taking of the life of an individual resulting from the willful or negligent act of another person or persons.” In Tennessee, a wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury complaint. It is a civil complaint, not a criminal one. Who can file a wrongful death complaint? If the deceased is a minor who was dependent upon his or her parents, the parents have the legal right to sue. In other cases, the surviving spouse, children, next of kin or personal representative may file the claim. Wrongful death is just one type of personal injury case. Slip-and-fall, product liability, workplace injury and car accidents that do not involve death are others that fall into that same category. Although the details of each type may be vastly different, there are some constants. Here are some of the basics: What damages can be awarded? Damages fall into two categories – economic and non-economic.
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses when applicable
- Loss of earning ability
- Loss of potential earnings
- physical and emotional suffering of the victim
- Loss of enjoyment of life of the victim
- In the case of death, loss of love and companionship
In some cases, the claim can also request punitive damages. What are the time limits for filing? In Tennessee, the statute of limitations for filing wrongful death claim is one year. For personal injury suits, it is three years. Placing your trust in an experienced Nashville personal injury attorney to guide you is a step toward healing and justice.