A claim can still be pursued if the person who initially filed it later dies from a car accident. The deceased individual’s family members can continue the personal injury claim through a “survival action.” Family members can also file a wrongful death claim for losses they suffered because of their deceased family member.
Surviving family members can benefit from having a lawyer help them pursue these claims and recover compensation for their losses and their loved one’s damages.
What Is a Survival Action?
Under Tennessee Code § 20-5-102, a survival action allows a personal injury claim to survive the death of the person who filed it. The action allows the deceased individual to recover damages—through his or her survivors—that the individual would have recovered had he or she not died. The individual’s damages may include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Is a Survival Action the Same as a Wrongful Death Claim?
There is a difference between a wrongful death claim and survival action. A wrongful death claim allows the survivors of the deceased individual to file their own claim. Tennessee Code § 20-5-106 defines wrongful death as one caused by the “wrongful act, omission, or killing by another.” Under this law, a deceased individual’s survivors can seek compensation for the financial and emotional losses they suffered because of their loved one’s death.
Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Tennessee allows the following parties to file a wrongful death claim:
- The surviving spouse
- The deceased’s children
- A parent of a deceased minor child
- Next of kin
- The executor of the deceased’s will
- An appointed administrator of the deceased’s estate
What Do Survivors Have to Prove in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Surviving family members bringing a wrongful death claim must prove that the at-fault driver’s negligence caused an accident that resulted in their loved one’s death. A lawyer can help you collect evidence to build a solid claim on your behalf.
Our law firm has the resources to collect the type of evidence needed to hold the at-fault driver legally responsible for your loved one’s death. We may collect evidence that includes the following:
- A police report of your loved one’s accident
- Surveillance video of the car accident
- Photographs of the accident scene
- Eyewitness testimony
- Your loved one’s medical expenses resulting from the accident
What If the Other Driver Does Not Admit Fault for the Accident That Resulted in My Loved One’s Death?
In car accidents involving death, it is not unusual for the other driver and the driver’s insurance company to deny fault. A skilled attorney will help you counter the defendant’s claim through solid evidence that proves negligence.
What Type of Damages Can Survivors Receive in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Survivors can recover damages for their loved one’s medical bills related to the car accident injury. Physical injuries and medical expenses can help to increase the value of a claim. Family members can receive compensation for such damages as:
- Medical bills resulting from the accident
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of services the loved one provided for the family
- Loss of consortium for the surviving spouse
- Loss of love, affection, society, and guidance for surviving children
- Loss of earning capacity from the date of injury to the date of death
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
Survivors may also pursue punitive damages, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
Is There a Deadline for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim?
Tennessee’s Statute of Limitations gives survivors one year from the date of their loved one’s accident—not death—to file a wrongful death claim.
Keep in mind that it takes time to conduct a thorough investigation of your loved one’s car accident and gather solid evidence to support your wrongful death claim. The sooner family members to decide to pursue a claim, the sooner a lawyer can begin working on the case.
We Can Help You File a Wrongful Death Claim
We know that no amount of money can compensate for the unexpected death of a loved one. However, filing a wrongful death claim can help to alleviate the financial strain placed on a family after a loved one’s death. A claim can still be pursued if a person died from a car accident, and we can help.
If your loved one died because of a car accident caused by another party’s negligence, contact the OEB Law, PLLC at (865) 546-1111 to schedule an appointment with one of our car accident lawyers.