When a person dies as a result of another’s negligence or reckless actions in Tennessee, the surviving family has the right to file a wrongful death claim.
Any death caused by a wrongful act, omission, or injury inflicted by another party is, by Tennessee law, a wrongful death (Tennessee Code Sec. 20-5-106. When the loss of a loved one is defined as a wrongful death, the party responsible can be held liable for damages.
Only certain members of a wrongful death victim’s family can file a claim. Tennessee law also stipulates which family members have priority, and they are as follows:
Damages will be awarded in a successful wrongful death lawsuit, which is compensation for the surviving family members’ losses. The types of damages commonly awarded include:
In some cases, the court will award punitive damages but only if the at-fault party’s actions were egregious or extremely reckless. Unlike other forms of compensation, punitive damages are intended to punish the at-fault party.
Many different types of accidents can result in a wrongful death. Some of the most frequent incidents that give rise to wrongful death claims include:
Car accidents are the leading cause of wrongful deaths. Most fatal collisions are a result of driver negligence, such as distracted driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, driving while fatigued, texting and driving, etc.
Medical errors are considered the third leading cause of death in the U.S. When a medical provider makes a significant mistake, patients can be severely injured or lose their lives. Many wrongful death claims are filed due to a physician’s misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose an illness or condition, surgical errors, birth injuries, medication errors, and more.
When a workplace death is caused by a third party other than the victim’s employer, the surviving family can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the third party. An employer can only be held liable in a wrongful death claim if they intentionally caused the death or did not carry workers’ compensation insurance.
A defective product’s manufacturer or any other party involved in its distribution chain can be liable if the defective product causes a fatality.
Other common causes of wrongful deaths in Tennessee include bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, truck accidents, and criminal acts of violence.