Losing someone you love because another person or business acted recklessly or without care for the health and safety of others is devastating. Nothing could have prepared you for this. Right now, taking legal action may not seem important in the slightest. After all, what difference will it make?
You have enough to worry about and deal with after losing your loved one. You don’t have to shoulder every burden alone. An experienced Memphis wrongful death lawyer at Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC is here to help. You can trust us to protect your interests and fight for what is right and just. Contact us for a free consultation to explore your legal options further.
Common Incidents Resulting in Wrongful Death
While there is nothing anyone can do to bring your loved one back, taking action can make a difference in your life. A wrongful death lawyer in Memphis, TN, can help put the resources you need in your hands. You can then use those tools to ensure that you can recover from this tragic loss.
By exercising your legal rights and holding the responsible person or business accountable for what they’ve done, you can do something to prevent this from happening to someone else.
For nearly five decades, we have successfully handled wrongful death lawsuits involving all types of accidents and negligence. We handle the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Cases involving medical malpractice
- Workplace accidents
- Emergency room negligence or dangerous drugs
- Claims involving property owner negligence or defective products
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Can Personal Injury Attorneys Pursue Wrongful Death Criminal Charges?
One of the top questions surviving family members have after losing a loved one is whether the defendant will face charges in criminal court for their loved one’s fatal accident. Unfortunately, it is not up to your Memphis wrongful death lawyers to determine whether criminal charges are filed.
The state’s prosecuting attorney will analyze the details of your case to determine whether the defendant should be charged criminally for the death of your loved one. They will opt to move forward with the case if they believe they have sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
If the defendant is convicted in criminal court, they will face harsh penalties, including signs, community service, registration as a sex offender, incarceration, and other consequences.
Civil Wrongful Death Action
Taking criminal action against an offending party is a much different process than filing a wrongful death claim. Your wrongful death attorney in Memphis, TN, has the authority to file a lawsuit when another party’s negligence or misconduct is responsible for causing your family member’s death.
The burden of proof is significantly less in wrongful death claims. Here, your attorney will need to show through compelling evidence that the liable party is more likely they’re not at fault for causing the decedent’s death.
If the defendant is found liable for causing your family member’s death, they will be ordered to compensate your family for your damages.
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The Authority to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Although you may be anxious to get justice for your loved one, it is important to discover whether you have the authority to file a wrongful death claim. Under Tennessee law, only specific parties can file a wrongful death claim.
First, the decedent’s surviving spouse will have the opportunity to file the lawsuit. However, if the decedent did not have a surviving spouse, there are other parties who could have the right to file the claim in the following order:
- The decedent’s surviving children
- The decedent’s next of kin
- The decedent’s personal representative of their estate
- The decedent’s surviving parents
It should be noted that even though specific parties have the right to file the claim, damages will first be paid out to the surviving spouse and children should they apply. This is true even if the decedent’s personal representative files the lawsuit. If you are unsure whether you have the authority to file a wrongful death claim in Memphis, you can contact our office.
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Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Deaths in Memphis
According to Tenn. Code §28-3-104, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, under which wrongful death claims can be categorized, in Tennessee is just one year. Although one year may seem like more than enough time to contact a lawyer and start working on your case, the truth is that one year is a limited amount of time.
If you hope to build a compelling case against the liable party, it is essential that you get an attorney working on your case as soon as possible. Much of the evidence needed to prove fault in wrongful death claims will be time-sensitive.
If your Memphis wrongful death attorney does not have enough time to obtain this evidence, it may be lost. If your claim is not filed before the statute of limitations expires, you will lose your chance to have your case heard in Memphis civil courts.
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Wrongful Death Compensation
No amount of money can truly compensate someone who has just lost their spouse due to medical malpractice. It cannot compensate a parent who has just lost a child or a child who will have to grow up without a mother or father.
At the same time, financial compensation is the only real help our justice system can provide for people who lose loved ones because of the negligence of others. The law allows certain surviving family members to seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages in wrongful death cases. These types of damages, called “pecuniary injuries,” include:
- Losses of income and future earnings
- Losses of consortium
- Losses of companionship
- Losses related to pain, suffering, and mental anguish
- Loss of services
- Loss of enjoyment
- Lost prospective inheritance
- Expenses related to a loved one’s medical care
- Funeral expenses
Our law firm endeavors to help all accident victims, including you and your loved ones, secure fair compensation from responsible parties.
Calculating Your Own Accident Losses
If you were involved in the same accident that wrongfully took a loved one from you, you likely suffered injuries of your own. You can work with our legal team to both file a wrongful death claim on a loved one’s behalf and pursue your own personal injury lawsuit. These two claims must be separate if you want to receive compensation for both a loved one’s losses and your own physical injuries.
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Preparing for a Wrongful Death Trial
Depending on the nature of your accident, you may come to a settlement agreement with a liable party in negotiations. If you’re not able to ensure your financial recovery via these conversations, though, then it’s time to move your case to court.
Transitioning out of negotiations sees both you and the defendant begin the discovery process. Our legal team will assess the nature of the deceased individual’s accident and share information regarding our findings with the defendant’s attorney, as is required in the civil process. Once we have enough information to represent your losses, we can prepare your opening statement.
Examination and Cross-Examination
You should be prepared to present your perspective on the defense’s negligent actions during examination. The defense can then cross-examine you to challenge that interpretation of the defendant’s behavior.
You can use our legal services to determine how best to frame your perspective on your loved one’s losses and prepare for the questions that the defense might challenge you with.
Once you and the defense have presented your cases, deliberation over your right to compensation falls to the jury. The legal process concludes when the jury decides your right to financial support in the wake of a deceased individual’s untimely passing. If you find that a court doesn’t rule in your favor, you can discuss your legal right to appeal with an accident attorney.
Memphis Wrongful Death FAQ
Wrongful death claims in Memphis are often complex. We understand that you may have many unanswered questions regarding the effect you want your wrongful death claim to have on your life. We also understand that, in this difficult time, you may not be sure where to turn for your answers.
With that in mind, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding wrongful death accident claims below. If you have further questions we did not cover on this page, do not hesitate to contact our office so we can discuss your concerns in greater detail.
Will I Have to Go to Court?
It is difficult to say whether your wrongful death claim will need to go to court. If the liable party is represented by an insurance company, and your insurance and settlement are enough to adequately meet your needs, you will not need to bring your case to court.
However, insurance settlements rarely, if ever, cover the surviving family members’ damages in full. This is partly because insurance settlements only cover certain types and amounts of economic damages. The insurance company might be willing to cover the decedent’s funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses, or any relevant property damages, but that is it.
Your family’s emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of income and inheritance, and other economic and non-economic damages may not be covered by the insurance company. This often requires you to bring your case to court if you hope to maximize your settlement.
Are Wrongful Death Damages Taxable?
Generally, damages awarded in a wrongful death claim are not taxable. However, if you use your compensation to invest or generate additional income, that additional income is then eligible for taxation.
Damages awarded for loss of income or future potential earnings can fall into a gray area. For this reason, it will be essential that your attorney and the courts ensure damages are listed accurately in your claim so you can avoid any discrepancies with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at a later date.
What Happens if the Decedent Was Partially at Fault for the Accident?
Tennessee is a modified comparative negligence state, so if they are partially responsible for causing their injuries, your wrongful death settlement could be reduced to reflect the decedent’s portion of fault. The law allows the decedent to share as much as 50 percent of the blame for the accident and still recover compensation for their damages.
However, your family’s compensation will be reduced to reflect the decedent’s liability portion. You can expect the defendant to argue that the decedent is partially at fault for their fatal injuries, as this could reduce their financial obligation. Your attorney will be prepared to handle any accusations made against the defense and introduce evidence to support the defendant’s culpability.
Reach Out to a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Memphis for Legal Support and Advice
When you have lost a loved one due to a devastating incident or accident, you may be able to get them the justice they deserve. Contact a Memphis wrongful death lawyer at Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC to learn more about how to hold the liable party accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
Schedule your no-cost, risk-free consultation as soon as today when you call our office or fill out our online contact form.