Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Tennessee?

A wrongful death claim is commonly filed on behalf of the deceased by his or her loved one. The claim may be filed when the deceased individual would have still been alive had it not been for the negligence of another individual or multiple individuals. The compensation received is often used to cover burial expenses and provide the surviving family members with some financial relief during such a devasting time.

In Tennessee, there are rules about who may file a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • Immediate family members, including spouses, children, and parents.
    • In some cases, siblings, cousins, grandparents, or other more distant relatives may also be entitled to claim wrongful death.
  • Financial dependents (who are not family members), such as wards, or anyone from whom the deceased was a legal guardian
  • A personal representative of the estate, under certain circumstances

Who should file a wrongful death lawsuit?

People often balk at the idea of filing wrongful death claims, especially when the death was unintentional. We can’t tell you how many times clients were afraid they’d seem “greedy,” like they were trying to profit off the death of their loved one when all they really wanted was for their loved one to be alive again.

We understand why clients often find these claims uncomfortable, but the truth is, wrongful death lawsuits aren’t about greed or profit. They’re about ensuring the safety and security of your family. They’re also about upholding the law and making sure negligent parties are held accountable for their actions.

For example, say your loved one died in a rollover car accident. An investigation shows that the reason the car rolled over was because the frame of the car was defective, and the manufacturers failed to note the defect (or ignore it entirely) or to test the car to see if it would roll over in a collision. In this case, a wrongful death lawsuit would force the auto manufacturer to fix the problem and take accountability for their failure to test their vehicles.

Of course, it’s easy to imagine a world where a big corporation was more interested in profits than in safety. Let’s say instead that your loved one was hit by a person driving a car with no defects. Maybe the other driver turned around quickly to address his kids and didn’t notice the light had turned red. Maybe she saw a dog in the road and jerked the wheel to the left to avoid the animal, not noticing your loved one was in the other lane.

Examples like these are hard, though far more common, because we all understand what it means to be distracted for a moment. Even though the other driver was negligent, it’s harder to see these acts as malicious or intentional. But under the law, negligence and intent are different, and you can make a claim if either one is present. And you still need to pay the mortgage, keep the lights on, feed your kids, take the cat to the vet, and deal with the related medical expenses and funeral costs, all while having your household income slashed in half, or maybe more. In this case, the wrongful death lawsuit isn’t just about accountability for wrongdoing – it’s about ensuring your family has what it needs to survive. If you have sustained injuries – financial or emotional – you should file a wrongful death suit to ensure that your family is safe.

If you need to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the State of Tennessee because your loved one has passed due to another person’s negligence, Bailey & Greer, PLLC can assist you. Our compassionate wrongful death lawyers in Memphis and Jackson represent clients throughout West Tennessee. Reach out to us at 901-680-9777 or include your details on our contact form, and schedule a free consultation today.