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What defines a wrongful death lawsuit in Tennessee?

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2022 | Wrongful Death

When your loved one dies because of a wrongful act by someone else, you might have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Tennessee. Essentially, if the deceased could have started a personal injury claim, then you may sue for wrongful death. Tennessee looks for damages, duty, causation and breach when evaluating claims.


A person’s wrongful death must have caused damages in order for the plaintiff to win a lawsuit.

Examples of damages include:

  • Loss of guidance and protection
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Mental anguish
  • Pain and suffering
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Medical expenses before the decedent’s death


The defendant must owe a duty of care to the decedent. All drivers on the road have a responsibility to others to operate their cars safely. Property owners must also maintain safe conditions at their homes: both externally and internally. Healthcare professionals need to meet the state-defined level of care.


The defendant’s actions must be the reason for the decedent’s death. Breaching duty of care alone doesn’t necessarily mean causation. If the deceased died because of an unrelated health condition, then the situation might not meet the causation criteria.


Plaintiffs must prove that a breach of duty of care occurred. Drinking and driving is an example of breaching duty. When it comes to medical cases, there is some risk involved with certain procedures. A doctor would have had to make a mistake for it to count as a breach of care.

Who Can Start a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Tennessee doesn’t allow just anyone to file a wrongful death lawsuit. You must be a surviving spouse, parent, child or the personal representative of the decedent’s estate.

Negligent acts that result in another’s death might be grounds for a wrongful death case. Tennessee allows eligible individuals to seek compensation if someone’s negligence caused their loved one’s death.