Few things hurt worse than suddenly losing a loved one. But if the death was due to someone’s negligence, the agony is even more devastating. No sum will ever bring your loved one back, but a wrongful death lawsuit could provide a sense of justice.
If your loved one died in an accident and another party was responsible, Nix Patterson’s Oklahoma wrongful death lawyers would like to speak with you today. Our attorneys have obtained compensation for many grieving families in your position. We understand and can help.
In Oklahoma, if someone dies because of someone’s intentional or accidental action, the deceased’s estate may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. State law in Oklahoma Stat. tit. 12.1053 says that a “wrongful death” is one that was caused by the “wrongful act or omission of another party” if that act or omission would have allowed the person to file a personal injury claim if they had lived.
This means there is a wrongful death if the person died due to another individual or entity, such as by an act of negligence, intentional act, or crime. As with other personal injury claims, the defendant’s liability will be expressed by financial compensation ordered by the court to pay the estate. That is the big difference between a wrongful death claim and a criminal case. In the latter, a conviction can lead to jail or prison time, fines, or probation.
Furthermore, in a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a high bar. In a wrongful death claim, however, the at-fault party’s liability must only be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that it is more likely than not that the party caused the death.
A single act can lead to both a wrongful death lawsuit and a criminal prosecution. The defendant may be sued for damages in civil court and face criminal charges. For instance, if an Oklahoma City drunk driver kills your loved one, the defendant could be sued by you and also prosecuted for manslaughter. The defendant doesn’t need to be criminally charged or convicted for you to win a lawsuit.
In Oklahoma, a wrongful death case is one that the deceased could have brought if they had lived. If the person died in the accident, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate is authorized to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If one exists, that person may or may not be named in the deceased’s will.
The judge appoints a personal representative who has the estate’s best interests in mind, such as the administrator or executor. A close surviving family member is often chosen as the personal representative in the claim. Preference is usually given to the partner or spouse of the deceased, followed by other close family.
Selecting the best person as the estate’s representative is critical. Choosing a close family member might seem logical, but that is not always true. The chosen party will act for all interested parties with a stake in the estate. This person must be trusted to act in their best interests. The personal representative will regularly contact your Oklahoma wrongful death attorney, discuss settlement offers, and decide whether the case should be settled or taken to trial.
Your wrongful death attorney can discuss with interested parties who may be the best choice to act as the personal representative. One family member could be a solid choice in regular times, but they could be devastated by the loss and unable to handle the responsibility. This is understandable, so your lawyer will guide the family in making this vital decision as needed.
Losing a close family member is always a nightmare. But when the death was accidental and preventable, except for the at-fault party’s negligence, it’s even more devastating. A successful wrongful death lawsuit can give you and your loved ones a measure of justice, as well as compensation to piece your life back together. The most common types of wrongful death claims in Oklahoma are:
Every state has laws stating who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Oklahoma, only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file suit. The personal representative could be named in the document if the deceased had a will when they passed. If they died intestate – without a will – the court will name a personal representative. Common choices as the personal representative are the spouse, adult children, or parents.
When another person owed your loved one a duty of care and failed in that duty, they may owe you damages. Just because the person died in the accident does not mean they escape culpability. The surviving close family may be entitled to compensation, such as:
Determining the approximate case value is complex and requires the assistance of an experienced wrongful death lawyer. Nix Patterson may rely on various legal, financial, medical, and economic experts to determine the value of your case. This is integral to settlement negotiations to ensure you get the most money possible.
However, the insurance company could balk and offer far less than you deserve. If that happens, your lawyer will offer their best advice about settling or taking the case to an Oklahoma jury. The ultimate decision about whether to settle or go to court is yours.
Remember, though, that it’s possible to go to trial and lose, which leaves you empty-handed. That’s why most wrongful death lawsuits end in a settlement and don’t go to court. The risk for both the plaintiff and defendant in a trial is significant.
As you deal with overwhelming grief over your loved one’s death, you might not be in the state of mind to address critical legal issues. Our Nix Patterson lawyers understand it’s difficult at this time to decide to take legal action. But, at the very least, it is prudent to understand your legal options.
A successful wrongful death lawsuit can obtain compensation to cover your current bills and ensure financial stability for you, your children, and other family members. For example, wrongful death funds could be used to pay for your children’s college educations.
Your lawyer’s job is to take as much legal burden off you as possible. We want you to focus on your and your family’s well-being instead of dealing with legal and insurance issues. Our attorneys will do the following for you:
Our attorneys will start a claim investigation after we meet with you and determine if you have a case. Also, we will fight for the most compensation without asking for money upfront. Nix Patterson never charges legal fees unless we win your case.
If your case is successful, compensation is paid out at the end of the case, after our legal fees and expenses. How they’re paid depends on the type of damages and which parties experienced the damages named in the lawsuit:
Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within a specific time, which is called the statute of limitations. Each state has its own rules. In Oklahoma, you must file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date of your loved one’s death. If you don’t file the claim within two years, the case will probably not be heard.
If you’re considering taking legal action after your loved one’s death, it’s wise to discuss it promptly with an Oklahoma wrongful death attorney. Wrongful death cases are complex; settling one can take months or years.
Losing a loved one suddenly in an accident is terrible, but imagine trying to figure out complex legal liability issues, plus trying to keep food on the table. Fortunately, our Oklahoma wrongful death attorneys at Nix Patterson are skilled, experienced litigators, and we know how to fight for every dime of compensation for your family. We understand what you’re going through and will guide you every step of the way.
Contact our wrongful death attorneys today for a complimentary, confidential consultation. We will not be paid unless we obtain a settlement or favorable jury verdict. Our attorneys are paid on a contingency basis at the end of a successful case, so you never have out-of-pocket legal expenses.
Nix Patterson only works on a contingency fee basis. Our clients pay us nothing unless we win. Schedule a free consultation today. Call 512.328.5333 or complete the form below.
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