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Tulsa Wrongful Death Lawyers

Few things are more painful than losing someone you love. But if another person’s negligence caused your loved one’s death, the pain can be even more unbearable. No amount of money will replace your loved one, but a wrongful death claim can help you get your life back on track.

If you lost a loved one and someone else caused the accident, Nix Patterson’s wrongful death lawyers would like to talk to you today. Our wrongful death attorneys have often obtained compensation for grieving families, and we may be able to help you.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

Every state has laws that allow the family or estate of the deceased to file a wrongful death claim in certain cases. In Oklahoma, if your loved one dies because of another person’s negligence or wrongful action, the person’s estate can file a wrongful death claim.

State law in Oklahoma Stat. tit. 12.1053 states that a “wrongful death” occurs because of the “wrongful act or omission of another party” if that act or omission would have allowed the deceased to file a personal injury lawsuit if they had survived.

So, in Oklahoma, there is a wrongful death if the deceased passes away because of another person or entity by an intentional act, negligence, or crime. As with any personal injury lawsuit, the defendant’s responsibility for death is expressed by monetary compensation ordered by the judge to pay the deceased’s estate.

If you file a wrongful death claim, it is a civil action that is separate from any criminal case the Oklahoma prosecutor may file. In a criminal case, the defendant could be found guilty and sentenced to incarceration or leveled with heavy fines.

Also, if there is a criminal case, the state prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest burden of proof. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the defendant’s liability can only be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. This means it is more likely than not that the person caused the death.

A single act by the defendant can lead to a wrongful death claim and criminal prosecution. The person can be sued for damages and also face criminal charges. Your Tulsa wrongful death attorney can file a wrongful death claim, and the state could file manslaughter charges. The defendant doesn’t have to be charged with a crime or convicted for you to obtain damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Who Is Allowed to Sue for the Wrongful Death?

State law in Oklahoma says that a wrongful death claim is one that the decedent could have filed as a personal injury lawsuit if they had lived. If the person perished in the accident, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death claim. The personal representative is often named in the decedent’s will, but not necessarily.

The judge will appoint a personal representative with the estate’s best interests in mind. This could be the estate’s administrator or executor. A family member close to the deceased is often selected as the personal representative. The judge often gives preference to the surviving partner or spouse of the deceased.

Careful thought should go into choosing the estate’s personal representative. Selecting a close family member is often the obvious choice, but it may not always be ideal. The selected person will act for everyone with a stake in the decedent’s estate. The personal representative is trusted to act in everyone’s best interests. This person will be in regular contact with your wrongful death lawyer, review insurance settlement offers, and ultimately decide whether the matter should be settled or go to trial.

Your Tulsa wrongful death attorney can talk with the stakeholders to determine who could be the ideal choice as the personal representative. A spouse or sibling could be the obvious choice in a normal situation, but they could be grief-stricken and unable to deal with the responsibility. If so, your attorney can review your options to make the best decision.

Common Types of Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Tulsa

Tulsa is a large, vibrant city, but unfortunately, accidents happen here regularly, as in any metropolis. Some of the most common types of wrongful death lawsuits in Tulsa involve:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Tens of thousands of motorists use Tulsa roads daily, with XXX and XXX being the most heavily traveled. All drivers have a duty of care to drive safely and not injure others. But driver error, texting and driving, speeding, and DUI often lead to serious and fatal accidents. If your attorney can prove another driver caused your loved one’s death, you could receive compensation for medical bills, lost income, burial expenses, and more.

Defective Products

Manufacturers and retailers are required to make or sell products that are safe when used as intended. If a defective product killed your loved one, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit. For example, if a defective tire blowout on your loved one’s SUV caused a fatal rollover accident, this could be a valid defective product claim.

Medical Malpractice

If a healthcare provider or facility was negligent and caused your loved one’s death, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Common causes of medical malpractice claims include failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis, surgical error, birth injury, and medication errors.

Premises Liability

Property owners must ensure their properties are safe for guests and visitors. A common type of premises liability claim is a slip and fall accident. Your attorney will attempt to prove that the owner’s negligence created a hazardous condition that led to your loved one’s death.

Workplace Accidents

Job-related accidents often lead to severe injury and death in Tulsa. Common causes of these accidents are construction site falls, electrocution, fires and explosions, caught-between-machinery accidents, and toxic chemical exposure. Oklahoma has workers’ compensation that usually compensates the family of the deceased.

However, if a third party caused your loved one’s death, filing a wrongful death lawsuit may be possible. For example, if your loved one was caught in machinery in a factory and died, it could be possible to file a lawsuit against the machine manufacturer.

Am I Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In Oklahoma, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death claim. In many cases, the person is the executor named in the person’s will, but not always. If there wasn’t a will, the court will file a personal representative, such as the deceased’s spouse or other close next of kin.

What Kind of Compensation Can I Receive in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Compensation for a wrongful death lawsuit varies widely based on the circumstances of the case. If your wrongful death lawsuit is successful, these are some of the types of compensation you could receive:

  • Medical expenses were incurred while the decedent was alive and receiving treatment.
  • Pain and suffering the deceased had while alive.
  • Loss of the person’s income for life
  • Loss of services the person provided to the family
  • Loss of inheritance the family could have received
  • Loss of consortium or companionship
  • Funeral expenses

Every wrongful death case is different, so estimating what you could receive is difficult. Damages can be thousands or millions of dollars, depending on the situation. The amount of damages the family receives depends on:

  • The age of the decedent
  • The health of the decedent
  • The deceased person’s income, education, training, and earning ability
  • The age of the surviving family
  • The funeral and medical expenses involved
  • The level of pain and suffering the person endured
  • Benefits the family lost, such as retirement income and health insurance

In most cases, wrongful death compensation is paid by the insurance company. For instance, if your loved one was killed in a car accident, the other driver’s auto insurance would pay. But if they died because of a hazardous condition in a retail store, the owner’s property insurance would pay.

How Wrongful Death Damages Are Paid in Oklahoma

Damages in a wrongful death claim may be paid to the family in a one-time lump sum or a structured settlement. If you choose a structured settlement, you could receive ongoing, regular payments over months or years. However, insurance companies usually prefer to pay a lump sum.

Regarding taxes, you should not have to pay federal or state taxes on the wrongful death money you receive. However, if you receive punitive damages, they could be taxable. If you have questions about taxes and wrongful death benefits, talk to your attorney, who may refer you to a CPA.

Nix Patterson’s Tulsa Wrongful Death Lawyers Can Help You

Suddenly losing a loved one in an accident is awful. But can you imagine having to sort out complicated legal issues, pay your bills, and keep food on the table? Our Tulsa wrongful death lawyers at Nix Patterson may be able to help.

Our attorneys are tenacious litigators, and we’re prepared to fight for every penny of compensation for your family. We understand how hard things are, and you can count on us to fight for your rights during this challenging time.

Contact our Tulsa wrongful death attorneys today for a free consultation about your wrongful death claim.


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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