Two people comforting each other after a loved one's wrongful death

Has Your Family Suffered From a Wrongful Death?

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Your Oklahoma City Wrongful Death Lawyers

Losing a loved one is never easy. But it’s especially difficult when that death was someone else’s fault—and never would have happened if they hadn’t been careless or reckless.

Nothing can ever replace what you’ve lost. However, you shouldn’t have to shoulder the financial burdens of funeral expenses and lost financial support due to someone else’s negligence. You also deserve accountability for losses that can’t be quantified, like emotional support, companionship, guidance, and love.

Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys helps Oklahomans across the state through some of the most difficult times of their lives, and we’re here for you, too. Let our Oklahoma City wrongful death lawyers hold the people responsible for your loved one’s death accountable for their actions. Call 405-218-9200 or fill out our free online form to speak with our legal team today.

What Is Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death occurs when a person dies because of someone else’s negligence. Common causes of wrongful death include auto accidents, medical malpractice, dangerous products, and criminal acts.

To demonstrate that an at-fault party acted negligently in a wrongful death suit, you need to prove three things:

  • They had a duty of care to your loved one. (For example, a duty to drive responsibly and follow the law.)
  • They failed in their duty. (For example, by running a red light or drinking and driving.)
  • That failure was the direct cause of, or greatly contributed to, your loved one’s death.

Another way to think of it is this: If the deceased person could have filed a personal injury claim if they had lived, their family members can file a wrongful death claim.

Wrongful Death Frequently Asked Questions

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Oklahoma?

Under Oklahoma law, the only person who can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of your family is the personal representative of the estate, sometimes called the executor. Their job, under normal circumstances, is to carry out the will of the deceased person, settle debts and taxes, and distribute property to their heirs.

If your loved one did not leave a will, did not name a personal representative in their will, or the person named is unable to serve, the court may appoint one. Typically, they would choose a spouse, child, sibling, or other surviving family member whenever possible.

How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In Oklahoma, in most cases you must file a civil wrongful death lawsuit within two years, or less, of your loved one’s death. This is known as the statute of limitations.

In rare cases the statute of limitations may be even less than two years—for example, if the defendant is a government entity. Speaking with an attorney as soon as possible after your loved one’s death can help ensure you do not miss any important deadlines and can build the strongest possible legal case in the time available.

What Damages Can I Claim?

Available damages in a wrongful death case include:

  • Medical expenses that were paid after your loved one was injured but before their death.
  • Funeral expenses and burial expenses.
  • Loss of consortium. In other words, the grief and loss of the benefits of relationship experienced by a surviving spouse.
  • Mental pain and anguish experienced by close family members, in particular a surviving spouse and children. (If the deceased person did not have any surviving spouse or children, “next of kin” such as a parent or grandparent could be eligible for these damages.)
  • Monetary losses experienced by close family members due to the wrongful death. For example, loss of financial support from your loved one’s salary, loss of healthcare benefits, or the cost of hiring housekeeping or childcare services that your loved one would have otherwise provided.
  • Grief and loss of companionship for the children and parents of the deceased.
  • If the deceased person is a child, their parents or legal guardian can recover money spent to support and educate them.

Punitive damages might also be awarded if the person or organization responsible for the wrongful act was grossly negligent, reckless, or malicious.

How Is Financial Compensation from a Wrongful Death Settlement Distributed?

Wrongful death claims are paid out according to the type of damages awarded and which surviving family members or parties experienced the losses named in the suit. For example:

  • Medical and burial expenses are distributed to whomever originally paid them (typically the deceased person’s estate).
  • Financial losses, as well as compensation for loss of companionship, are divided according to the degree of loss suffered by each family member. In Oklahoma, the law states that the judge presiding over the case shall determine the proper distribution.
  • Loss of consortium damages are paid to the surviving spouse.

In most cases, the only surviving family members eligible to receive wrongful death compensation are a spouse and children (if the deceased was an adult) or parents (if the deceased was a child). However, if a deceased adult left no spouse or children, benefits are recovered by the next of kin. This would typically be the parents (if living) or siblings (if the parents are also deceased).

Wrongful Death Claims We Handle

Our Oklahoma wrongful death attorneys can manage a variety of claims, such as:

  • Auto Accidents
    Drivers who cause fatal accidents due to intoxication, distracted driving, or reckless behavior can be held responsible for damages related to loss of life.
  • Construction Accidents
    Construction companies are required to follow safety regulations to keep workers safe. When carelessness leads to a deadly accident on a work site, construction companies can be held liable.
  • Oil Field Injuries
    Oil companies that fail to prevent jobsite deaths due to poor oversight, dangerous equipment, or lack of training may owe compensation to workers’ families.
  • Defective Products
    Dangerous products can be the cause of a wrongful death. Examples include a defective e-cigarette that explodes without warning or herbicides that cause cancer.

Your family has gone through enough after a wrongful death accident. We’re here to handle your legal claim with the respect and dignity it deserves.

Do I Need an Oklahoma Wrongful Death Attorney?

You are not required to hire a wrongful death lawyer to handle your claim. However, it is usually the right choice for most families.

Just like with personal injury cases, winning wrongful death lawsuits typically requires careful and thorough investigation and aggressive negotiation. For example, if your loved one was killed in a car accident, you will need to prove that the other driver (or another third party) was responsible. That might require evidence such as eyewitness statements, police reports, or a crash analysis performed by an accident reconstructionist.

Furthermore, calculating fair compensation in wrongful death cases is complex and challenging. How do you put a price on loss of companionship? How do you estimate a lifetime of earnings and financial support? Most families experiencing loss and grief don’t even know where to begin. And unfortunately, the insurance company might take advantage by offering to settle for far less than what your family truly deserves.

At a time like this, your priority should be spending time with your loved ones and not worrying about evidence, deadlines, and negotiations. While nothing can ever make up for your family member’s death, an experienced Oklahoma wrongful death lawyer can help you get the compensation you’re entitled to while making the entire process as simple and stress-free as possible.

We’re Here for You

Our Oklahoma wrongful death lawyers want to protect your family’s legal rights. Our team has been handling wrongful death claims for years. We understand what you’re going through and we’ll fight to hold the responsible party accountable. We’ll listen to your story, answer your questions, and do everything we can to ensure you feel comfortable with every step of the claims process.

And because we work on a contingency fee basis, you won’t owe us legal fees unless we help you achieve a successful wrongful death claim. Give us a call today and get the compassionate legal help your family deserves.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.