Oklahoma City Wrongful Death Attorney
Wrongful Death Laws in Oklahoma
There is nothing more difficult than losing someone you love. If your family member recently passed away due to the negligent or wrongful conduct of another, our Oklahoma City wrongful death attorney at Fulmer Sill extends our deepest and most sincere condolences. We also want to help you and your family seek the justice you deserve by holding the responsible party accountable.
When a loved one dies, taking legal action may be the furthest thing from your mind. However, an unexpected and tragic loss can lead to numerous financial hardships, including costly medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of income, and more. When someone else was at fault for your loved one’s death, they should be held responsible for these and other related costs. By filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you can not only seek financial compensation for economic losses you have experienced but also certain intangible losses, such as the loss of love and guidance provided by your family member.
We understand that this is likely one of—if not the—most challenging times in your life. Our Oklahoma City wrongful death attorney is here to provide the compassionate, personalized, and attentive support you need.
What Is Considered “Wrongful” Death?
Oklahoma’s wrongful death statute defines “wrongful death” as the death of a human being caused by “the wrongful act or omission of another.” It can be helpful to think of a wrongful death claim as a personal injury claim filed on behalf of someone who cannot bring the claim him or herself. Essentially, if your loved one would have had grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit had he or she lived, his or her death is considered “wrongful.”
Wrongful death cases often arise from the following types of events:
- Accidents and negligence-based incidents
- Medical malpractice or negligence
- Intentional acts, including violence and criminal conduct
At Fulmer Sill, we represent clients in all types of wrongful death claims, including cases arising from the following events:
- Aviation accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Boating and maritime accidents
- Birth injuries
- Bus accidents
- Car accidents
- Defective products
- Motorcycle accidents
- Oilfield accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Train accidents
- Truck accidents
- Unsafe premises
We have extensive experience handling all types of highly complex cases and have successfully secured millions of dollars in compensation on behalf of surviving family members and the estates of those wrongfully killed throughout Oklahoma and nationwide.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate or the next of kin may file a wrongful death claim in court. The personal representative is an individual who essentially acts on behalf of the estate and the decedent’s beneficiaries, dependents, and heirs. If the decedent died with a will, the personal representative will be named in the will. If the decedent passed away without a will, the court will appoint a representative to act on behalf of the estate and the surviving family members (in most cases).
Although the personal representative must be the one to file the wrongful death claim, he or she does so on behalf of both the estate and certain surviving family members. The parties who are eligible to recover compensation are the estate, spouse, children and parents of the decedent.
Who Is Liable for a Wrongful Death?
In a wrongful death claim, you will need to prove that the person or company you are suing is liable for your loved one's passing. Liability is typically established when the person or company you are suing is responsible for the death of your loved one. In a wrongful death claim, this is typically when the person or company you are suing is responsible for causing the death of your loved one.
In a wrongful death claim, you will need to prove that the following parties are liable for your loved one's death:
- Motor vehicle drivers
- Doctors and medical professionals
- Government entities
- Product manufacturers
- Building contractors
In some cases, you may be able to sue multiple parties for causing your loved one's death. For example, if your loved one was killed in a car crash that was caused by a negligent driver and a defective car part, you may be able to sue both parties.
Damages in Oklahoma Wrongful Death Cases
The purpose of filing a wrongful death claim is twofold: first, it allows affected family members and loved ones to obtain a much-needed sense of justice by holding the liable party accountable for the decedent’s death. Second, it enables eligible individuals to recover monetary compensation for specific losses, both economic and non-economic, resulting from the decedent’s death.
A successful wrongful death lawsuit may result in the awarding of the following damages:
- Medical expenses related to treatment for the decedent’s final injury or illness
- Funeral and/or burial costs
- Lost income and benefits the decedent would have likely earned
- Conscious mental pain and suffering experienced by the decedent prior to death
- Loss of consortium and grief experienced by a surviving spouse or domestic partner
- Loss of companionship experienced by surviving children and/or parents
- Loss of the parent-child relationship experienced by surviving parents of an unmarried minor, as well as loss of expected support, services, companionship, and love
Sometimes, the court may also award punitive, or “exemplary,” damages. Rather than compensating surviving family members for specific damages related to the loss of their loved one, punitive damages are meant to punish defendants who are found to have acted with gross negligence, egregious misconduct, or willful disregard for the safety and/or lives of others.
We do not collect attorney fees unless/until we recover compensation for you. Contact our wrongful death attorney in Oklahoma City online or call (405) 433-7414 to schedule a free consultation. Hablamos español.
In Oklahoma, you have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim in court. If more than two years pass before a lawsuit is filed, the court will almost certainly refuse to hear the case, and you will lose your right to sue the liable party for damages.
There are very few exceptions to this rule. We strongly encourage you to reach out to our Oklahoma City wrongful death attorneys as soon as possible if someone you love tragically passed away as a result of another person or party’s negligence. Our team can review the details of your case and provide personalized information about your legal rights and options. We understand that this is an immensely difficult time in your life; our attorneys and staff are empathetic to what you and your family are going through and want to help you seek the justice and fair recovery you are owed.
You can rely on our tenacious and hardworking team to fight tirelessly for every penny you are owed.
Q:How do I know if I have a wrongful death case?
A:To determine if you have a wrongful death case, certain criteria must be met. Generally, you may have a case if you are a close family member (spouse, child, parent) or a personal representative of the deceased, and the death was caused by someone else's wrongful act or negligence. Consulting with an experienced wrongful death attorney in Oklahoma City can help you assess the circumstances and viability of your case.
Q:How long will it take to resolve a wrongful death case?
A: The timeline for resolving a wrongful death case varies depending on the complexity of the case, the willingness of the parties to negotiate, and court availability. Some cases settle outside of court quickly, while others may take months or even years to reach a resolution.
Q:What if the deceased person had some fault in the incident that caused their death? Can I still pursue a wrongful death claim?
A:Oklahoma follows a modified comparative negligence rule. As long as the deceased person's fault is determined to be 50% or less, you may still be eligible to pursue a wrongful death claim. The amount of compensation awarded may be reduced based on the degree of fault.
Q:Can I pursue punitive damages in a wrongful death case?
A:Yes, punitive damages may be available in certain circumstances where the responsible party's actions were particularly egregious or intentional. Punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct in the future.
Q:What evidence is needed to prove wrongful death?
A:To prove wrongful death, evidence such as medical records, accident reports, witness testimonies, expert opinions, and financial documentation may be necessary. An experienced wrongful death attorney can guide you on the specific evidence required for your case.
Q:Can I settle a wrongful death claim out of court?
A:Yes, it is possible to reach a settlement in a wrongful death case without going to court. Settlement negotiations can occur at various stages of the legal process, and if both parties agree on a fair resolution, the case can be settled outside of court.
Q:How can a wrongful death attorney help me?
A:A wrongful death attorney in Oklahoma City can provide essential assistance by evaluating your case, determining liability, gathering evidence, negotiating with insurance companies, and representing you in court if necessary. They will work diligently to protect your rights and seek the compensation you deserve while guiding you through the legal process.