Wrongful Death Attorneys in Knoxville, Tennessee
No matter how it happens, the death of a family member is always a difficult experience to endure. However, it may be even harder to process and accept the loss of your loved one when their death was preventable and the result of someone else’s fault.
In addition to the devastation and the emotional pain the death of a loved one brings, the family may also face financial burdens associated with funeral and burial expenses, loss of income and financial support, and many other losses.
When a loved one’s death is caused by someone else’s negligence, surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death claim to alleviate some of the financial burden of losing a loved one. At Wykoff & Sikes, PLLC, our wrongful death attorneys in Knoxville, Tennessee, can provide you with the support and guidance you need during this challenging and emotional time. We serve families in their time of need in Knoxville and the surrounding areas, including Chattanooga, Johnson City, Sevierville, and Crossville.
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What Constitutes Wrongful Death in Tennessee?
Under Tennessee law, wrongful death occurs when a person dies as a result of someone else’s negligence, intentional killing, wrongful act, or omission by another person. Generally, a wrongful death lawsuit is warranted when the deceased person would have been entitled to pursue compensation through a personal injury claim had they survived.
A wrongful death lawsuit must be filed in accordance with Tennessee’s statute of limitations, a term used to describe a time limit for filing a civil lawsuit. The statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is one year from the date of the death. If a lawsuit is not filed within one year, the surviving family members will lose their right to obtain compensation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Tennessee?
As all other states do, Tennessee limits the beneficiaries of wrongful death lawsuits. The surviving spouse of the deceased has the primary right to file a lawsuit and pursue compensation. However, if the decedent was not married or their spouse is not alive, the following parties are eligible to file a lawsuit in this particular order:
The surviving children, if any.
The next of kin.
The personal representative of the estate.
The deceased’s surviving parents.
The official website of the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts defines the term “personal representative” as a person serving as an executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate. Even if the lawsuit is filed by the personal representative, the damages awarded would be distributed to the deceased person’s family members.
What Needs to Be Proven to Constitute Wrongful Death?
Tennessee law sets forth strict requirements for wrongful death cases. The plaintiff – the party filing a wrongful death lawsuit – must prove the following four elements to be awarded damages:
Duty of care. The first element to prove is that the defendant (the party against whom the lawsuit is filed) owed the deceased a duty of care. For example, if the decedent was killed in a car accident, the at-fault driver owed them a duty to operate safely.
Breach. Once it has been established that the defendant owed a duty of care, it must be proven that the duty was breached. For example, if the defendant was drunk or texting at the time of the fatal car accident, the court would most likely determine that they breached their duty of care to others on the road.
Causation. Then, the plaintiff or their attorney must establish causation, which means proving a link between the defendant’s breach and the decedent’s death.
Damages. Finally, a wrongful death lawsuit will not be successful if the plaintiff cannot prove that the decedent’s death caused any quantifiable damages such as loss of financial support, loss of guidance, loss of income, funeral and burial costs, mental anguish, and others.
Our wrongful death attorneys in Knoxville, Tennessee, can help you navigate the potential complexities in your case, striving to hold the negligent parties accountable, and advocating for you to obtain the compensation you deserve.
If you win a wrongful death lawsuit, the court will order the defendant to pay compensation to the deceased person’s survivors in the form of “damages.” The damages that may be available to surviving family members in wrongful death cases depend on the facts of the case, but may include the following:
funeral and burial costs
loss of income
loss of support
loss of guidance
loss of society and companionship
punitive damages (in cases where it can be shown that the defendant acted intentionally, maliciously, recklessly, or fraudulently)
With more than 50 years of combined legal experience, our team at Wykoff & Sikes, PLLC, can help you navigate the legal process when filing a wrongful death claim to ensure that you receive an adequate settlement and proper resolution of your case to get the much-needed sense of justice. Get in touch today to schedule a free case evaluation with our team.
Wrongful Death Attorneys in Knoxville, Tennessee
If you choose to fight for justice and pursue compensation after your loved one’s death, our attorneys at Wykoff & Sikes, PLLC, are here to help you through this difficult time. Our wrongful death attorneys in Knoxville, Tennessee, strive to provide clients with the utmost care and compassionate counsel. We are here to support you.