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Who Can File a Wrongful
Death Lawsuit in Tennessee?

Joshua S. Reed Nov. 24, 2020

Losing a family member can cause significant personal anguish and suffering, especially when it’s premature, unexpected, and the result of someone else’s reckless actions or negligence. If you've experienced this kind of loss, you may have a legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit is considered a civil suit, as opposed to a criminal complaint, with the goal of monetary compensation for any suffering, personal loss, and actual financial expenses you've had to endure as a result of your loss.

Tennessee law gives you one year from the date of death to file the lawsuit. If there are criminal charges, the district attorney’s office will handle that, but if you qualify under the law, you can file a civil lawsuit, where the burden of proof is less than in a criminal proceeding. Both types of actions can occur at the same time.

If you are facing the reality of such a life-changing loss, you should seek the legal services of the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed. We can provide you peace of mind as you seek legal redress for your loss.

We proudly serve clients all over East Tennessee including but not limited to Knox, Blount, Anderson, Sevier, and Union Counties.

What Is Wrongful Death in Tennessee?

The applicable Tennessee code defines wrongful death as one that is caused by "injuries received from another" or by "the wrongful act, omission, or killing by another." Examples include medication errors, defectively manufactured products, stray gunshots, and vehicular accidents.

Why File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

You can never bring back someone you’ve lost, but your wrongful death lawsuit can help prevent other families from experiencing what you’ve been plunged into. It can also help you recover financially from any loss of income, medical bills, funeral expenses, and even mental anguish and personal suffering.

Under Tennessee law, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit if you are:

  • The deceased person's spouse

  • The deceased person's children or next of kin, if there is no surviving spouse

  • The deceased person's parent if the deceased person was dependent on one or both parents at the time of death (usually involving the death of a child)

  • The deceased person's personal representative, as named in a will or trust, for instance

What Damages Are Available?

Tennessee law allows for the recovery of actual economic loss as well as for suffering resulting from the loss of the family member.

The applicable statute states: “Where a person's death is caused by the wrongful act, fault, or omission of another, and a suit is brought for damages ... the party suing shall, if entitled to damages, have the right to recover the mental and physical suffering, loss of time, and necessary expenses resulting to the deceased from the personal injuries, and also the damages resulting to the parties for whose use and benefit the right of action survives from the death consequent upon the injuries received.”

Accordingly, damages available under a Tennessee wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • Reasonable medical, funeral, and burial expenses

  • Loss of family members’ earning capacity during the time from injury to the death

  • Loss of the enjoyment of life during the same time-frame

  • Mental anguish and pain the deceased suffered leading from injury to death

  • Future income lost because of the decedent’s untimely demise

  • Physical and mental suffering of the remaining family members

  • Loss of the deceased person’s love and companionship

In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded as well if the defendant is found to have engaged in particularly reckless or egregious behavior. Punitive damages are meant to deter similar behavior in the future.

Why You Need Professional Legal Help

You never want to go it alone in these matters, especially when insurance company representatives and/or the other party’s attorneys are attempting to settle with you. Their sole objective is to end the matter with the least possible monetary compensation.

If you’re in Eastern Tennessee, we at the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed stand ready to represent your best interests and help you achieve peace of mind as you deal with the anguish of a lost loved one. Let us deal with the legal issues and provide a shield between you and the other party’s representatives. Contact us today for a consultation. We’ll listen with compassion and understanding and help you achieve the best possible outcome.

We proudly serve clients all over East Tennessee including but not limited to Knox, Blount, Anderson, Sevier, and Union Counties.