Wrongful Death Attorneys Serving Tennessee
If you have lost a loved one in an accident due to another person’s negligence or intentional misdeed, the wrongful death lawyers of The Haynes Firm understands that no amount of compensation can make up for your loss. However, we also realize that the unexpected death of your loved one may have come with immense financial stressors, including medical bills, lost income, funeral expenses, and more.
We believe that you should not have to face these challenges on top of the overwhelmingly difficult process of coping with your loved one’s death.
By filing a wrongful death claim in Tennessee against the liable party/parties, we can help you secure compensation for your economic and noneconomic losses. A successful case can also provide you and your family with a sense of relief at justice having been achieved on behalf of your loved one.
With over 70 years of combined legal experience, our Johnson City wrongful death attorneys know how to navigate the legal process. We can provide you with the compassionate support and counsel you need, coupled with the tireless advocacy you and your family deserve.
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Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
When a family member dies as a result of someone else’s negligent, careless, or wrongful actions, it can leave surviving loved ones to cope with an array of unanticipated financial and emotional burdens. The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to help ease some of those burdens so that you can focus on healing.
At The Haynes Firm, our wrongful death lawyers will pursue compensation to cover costs involved in your case, such as:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of past and future income
- Value of household services
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We also pursue compensation for noneconomic losses, such as loss of support and companionship, loss of consortium, mental anguish, pain and suffering, and more.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Most Common Causes of Wrongful Death?
Some of the most common causes of wrongful death include car accidents, truck accidents, and accidents involving dangerous products and dangerous premises. However, the single most common cause of wrongful death is medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice is among the leading causes of death in the United States—behind only heart disease and cancer. According to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine, medical errors are responsible for more than 250,000 deaths in the United States each year.
What Does It Mean to Be Liable for Wrongful Death?
Liability refers to the legal responsibility for paying damages due to the wrongful death of another. Although the negligence of an individual, corporation, or other entity may have resulted in the wrongful death, the at-fault party’s insurance company is usually liable for the losses. This includes responsibility not only for the surviving family’s out-of-pocket costs (e.g., funeral expenses and any medical bills incurred prior to death), but also loss of income, loss of inheritance, and various forms of non-financial loss.
Is There a Cap on Wrongful Death Damages?
Under Tennessee law, there is no cap on liability for economic damages in civil actions (a category which includes personal injury and wrongful death claims). So, if you have tragically lost a loved one in an accident or due to a medical error, a wrongful death lawyer can help your family seek full compensation for all of your financial losses. This includes losses that you have incurred to date, as well as those you and your family will incur in the future.
Non-economic damages in Tennessee are capped at $750,000 in most cases. However, up to $1 million in non-economic damages may be recovered in the event of the following:
“Wrongful death of a parent leaving a surviving minor child or children for whom the deceased parent had lawful rights of custody or visitation.”
– Tennessee Code § 29-39-102(c)-(d)
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Tennessee?
In Tennessee, only certain individuals can bring a claim for wrongful death. These are:
- The personal representative of the deceased (i.e., an individual named in the decedent’s will (also known as an executor) or appointed by the court (also known as an administrator) to act as such)
- The surviving spouse
- A surviving child or children of the deceased
- The next of kin (if the deceased had no spouse or children); this could be a parent, sibling, etc.
A wrongful death action by a personal representative must be brought for the benefit of the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, or next of kin.
Who Can Claim Damages for Wrongful Death?
The surviving spouse, parent, child, and other next of kin may all be entitled to the proceeds (i.e., the compensation in a settlement or trial award) of a wrongful death claim. Distribution of the proceeds is determined according to Tennessee’s law of intestate succession. This is the law that governs how a person’s assets are distributed if they die without a will. (NOTE: The law of intestate succession applies in wrongful death matters whether the deceased had a will or not.)
Under this law, different family circumstances call for different distributions of wrongful death damages. Some of the most common examples include:
- If there is a surviving spouse and no surviving children, the spouse receives 100% of any wrongful death damages awarded.
- If there is a surviving spouse and one surviving child, each receives 50% of the damages.
- If there is a surviving spouse and two surviving children, each receives 33.3% of the damages.
Again, these are just examples. When you speak with a wrongful death lawyer in Tennessee, your lawyer will be able to explain how the law applies to your family. Your attorney can also determine who is allowed to file the wrongful death claim, as well as how much each member of your family may be entitled to recover.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Case?
Proving negligence in a wrongful death case starts with conducting an investigation. This investigation should take place as soon after the fatal incident as possible.
Generally, you should hire a lawyer to conduct the investigation. Based on the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death, your attorney will determine what investigative steps are necessary. In cases involving fatal accidents, the first step will usually be to examine the accident scene.
Proving negligence may also involve obtaining phone records, employment records, medical records, and other forms of documentation. In addition, your wrongful death lawyer will work to obtain any video footage that may be available (i.e., footage from a traffic camera or security camera). Finally, testimony from both eyewitnesses and expert witnesses may be essential for explaining what happened and determining who is responsible.
What Evidence Do I Need in a Wrongful Death Claim?
The evidence needed to prove a wrongful death claim depends on the circumstances involved. In cases involving fatal car accidents, for example, forensic evidence from the crash site, video footage of the accident, and eyewitness testimony could all prove key. If the driver was drunk or distracted, the police report and/or cell phone records could serve as key evidence as well.
When a fatality is caused by medical negligence, the victim’s medical records and expert testimony will be crucial for establishing liability. A knowledgeable wrongful death attorney can determine what evidence is necessary and work to gather this evidence on your family’s behalf.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Wrongful deaths can and do occur as a result of numerous types of accidents, including but not limited to:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Product liability accidents
- Amusement park accidents
No matter the cause of death, it is important to seek legal counsel from a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible in order to find a timely resolution for your case.
Where to begin. I would certainly recommend the Haynes Law Firm to everyone. From the beginning to the end their professionalism was outstanding. This experience was totally new for us and Olen Haynes, Jr. made us feel at ease. He took the time to explain everything in detail and was excellent in settling our case. I can’t say enough about this law firm.
Thank you so much for your help. This has put us back on track.
We Listen to Your Needs No Matter Your Case
At The Haynes Firm, we provide compassionate and professional legal care to each of our clients. Our Johnson City wrongful death attorneys have many roles—teachers that educate our clients on the legal system; counselors as we listen to and care for each client’s needs and fears; and fighters who advocate and defend each client in even the most difficult and complicated wrongful death cases.
With decades of combined legal experience, our wrongful death lawyers have built our firm on the foundations of honesty, professionalism, tenacity, and results. We continue to work tirelessly for our clients and provide personalized attention to each case.