Memphis, Tennessee, Wrongful Death Attorneys
In a Memphis, Tennessee wrongful death case, family members who lost a loved one unfortunately have a fairly tight schedule to consider filing a civil claim against the responsible party. Tennessee law clearly states that a wrongful death suit must be filed within one year of the date of the original incident that led to the death. That means that if the original accident happened on June 1, 2012 and your loved one later died on June 15, 2012, the lawsuit would have to be filed by June 1, 2013. In almost all cases, it is not the date of the death that is used to measure time, but the date of the original injury.
Beyond timing, a critical issue in any wrongful death suit in Memphis involves which parties can sue to recover damages. Though the answer depends on the specific facts of the case, the following are some good general guidelines.
First, if the recently deceased person was married, then the surviving spouse typically has the right to purse any potential wrongful death claim. There are only a few circumstances where the court would deny the surviving spouse the right to bring the case. For instance, if the spouse was not mentally competent or if the parties were in the midst of a divorce or had been separated for a number of years prior to the death. In such circumstances it’s possible that the judge presiding over the case might decide to appoint another member of the family to file the suit. Spouses are also entitled to waive their right to file suit.
If there is no surviving spouse in an accident, or if the spouse waives his or her right to file suit, the children of the recently deceased are entitled to bring a wrongful death claim. If the children are under the age of 18, then the court will appoint a guardian to bring the case in the children’s name.
If the recently deceased person is under the age of 18 or single with no children, then the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit falls to the parents. If the child is under 18 and the parents are divorced, the right to file such a wrongful death claim belongs to the parent with primary custody, not the noncustodial parent.
It’s important to note that Tennessee law only allows one wrongful death suit to be brought. In cases where several people file wrongful death claims, the court will consolidate the cases and determine which case will ultimately move forward. The order of priority mentioned above will likely factor into that decision.
The wrongful death attorneys at The Stroud Law Firm understand the grief you are likely experiencing following the loss of a loved one. We understand how such a sudden death could cause serious financial trouble and would be happy to discuss your case and present you with possible options for receiving compensation. If someone you loved passed away too soon due to the negligent actions of others, it may be helpful to reach out to an experienced Memphis wrongful death attorney who can guide you through such a case. The caring attorneys at The Stroud Law Firm have years of experience and have successfully obtained compensation for our clients in similar situations.