A Wrongful Death Lawyer from Oklahoma Gives the Basics of Filing a Claim
It’s a claim nobody wants to make: filing a case of wrongful death against a person, organization, or entity can be an emotional rollercoaster for those that are left behind.
Just like other personal injury cases, though, the outcome of a wrongful death claim depends on the existing state laws. A wrongful death lawyer in Oklahoma, for example, has to follow Oklahoma Statute Chapter 12, Section 1053.
Oklahoma Wrongful Death Statute
Oklahoma’s statute legally defines wrongful death as caused by a wrongful act or omission of another person. A defendant’s ‘wrongful act’ can be classified as either intentional, negligent, or just plain reckless.
In these cases, a personal representative files a claim on behalf of both the deceased and the surviving beneficiaries. A personal representative in most cases is the spouse of the decedent, though it is not uncommon for parents, children, and siblings to be considered as the only persons that can file a claim on behalf of the deceased. The court can appoint a personal representative if the deceased does not have one or the existing representatives are not physically available or unwilling to serve.
What are the damages for a wrongful death claim in Oklahoma?
Though no amount of money can compensate for the life of your dearly departed relative, a wrongful death case can somehow alleviate the feeling of loss most people during these trying times.
Under the statute, the personal representative can be awarded the following damages: medical bills, burial expenses, and pecuniary loss depending on the age, occupation, earning capacity, health habits, and life expectancy of the deceased if he had not meet the unfortunate circumstances that cost his life. Loss of consortium and companionship, grief, and mental pain or anguish are also often considered when the court decides on the amount of damages to be awarded to the plaintiff’s estate.
Punitive damages can also be awarded by the jury for the sake of punishing the defendant and setting an example for others in similar cases. The amount involved in awarding punitive damages wholly depends on the severity of the hazard posed by the defendant’s wrongful act. It also depends on the duration of the wrongful act and if there are any evidences of concealment of said act. The defendant’s conduct and demeanor after the wrongful act are also considered along with the his current financial situation.
The compensation for punitive damages wholly depends on its category. The law classifies punitive damages as either Category 1 or Category 2, depending on the very situation that resulted to the wrongful death claim.
In short, Oklahoma acknowledges damages endured by the beneficiaries between the injury and untimely death of the deceased, and actual losses suffered from losing a family member (e.g. wages).
Oklahoma Statute of Limitations
A word of caution, though: a wrongful death claim may only be filed within two years of the victim’s death. Any claims that are filed outside the given time frame are barred from reaching the courts.
However, the statute of limitation only affects civil lawsuits. Treatment of criminal lawsuits is entirely different. That is, you can present the same set of evidence and facts as in a civil case, and criminal court will have to hear it regardless of the length of time passed since the victim’s death. In these situations, the death is treated as homicide rather than a wrongful death.
For this reason, it’s advisable to consult an experienced wrongful death lawyer so you can fully understand the repercussions of Oklahoma’s statute of limitations on your case. While you may not get your loved one back, at least, you can recompense for the emotional trauma that you and your family have been put through.
Oklahoma Statute Chapter 12, Section 1053, OklahomaLegal.net
2014 Oklahoma Statutes Title 23. Damages §23-9.1. Punitive damages awards by jury, USJustiaLaw.com