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Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Tennessee?

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2022 | Blog, Wrongful Death

Wrongful death claims arise when someone dies as the result of the negligence, misconduct or a wrongful act of another party. Many states have laws that allow surviving family members to seek compensation for various damages associated with their loved one’s death. However, Tennessee only allows certain relatives to sue for wrongful death.

Who can file a wrongful death claim?

Tennessee law gives surviving spouses the first opportunity to file a wrongful death claim. If there is no surviving spouse, surviving children have the right to pursue a lawsuit. If there are no children, surviving next of kin can proceed with a suit.

If the deceased individual was married with children, settlement proceeds are split equally between the surviving spouse and children, provided the spouse receives at least one-third of the money.

Under certain circumstances, the state bars surviving family members from taking part in a wrongful death claim. For example, parents who are behind on child support payments cannot seek compensation until they pay the full arrears balance.

Wrongful death damages

When a wrongful death lawsuit is successful, the court orders the defendant to compensate the plaintiff for damages. These damages may include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical expenses before death
  • Lost wages before death
  • Pain and suffering before death
  • Loss of future income
  • Loss of consortium
  • Mental anguish

In Tennessee, surviving family members have just one year from the date of their loved one’s death to file a wrongful death claim. Plaintiffs who fail to file a lawsuit within the required time frame could lose the right to seek compensation for their financial and emotional losses.