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The state of Tennessee defines wrongful death as any fatality caused by “injuries received from another” or by “the wrongful omission, or killing by another.” The state treats this type of case similarly to how it treats personal injury claims, except that the victim’s family members seek damages on their deceased loved one’s behalf.

Tennessee also allows the families of victims to file a wrongful death lawsuit — a civil claim —even if criminal charges (such as homicide charges) have already been filed or are expected to be filed in the case. A criminal case is not run by a wronged plaintiff, but by the office of a district attorney or other state or federal prosecutor.

Further, civil liability involves monetary damages, whereas criminal liability is punishable by imprisonment, probation, and other penalties.

Who can file a wrongful death claim?

Not just anyone may file a wrongful death claim. Only certain members of the deceased’s family or his or her personal estate representative have standing to take legal action on his or her behalf.

To start, the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit belongs to the surviving spouse of the deceased. If the deceased does not have a surviving spouse, then the order of priority for bringing a claim is as follows:

  1. The surviving children or next of kin of the deceased
  2. The chosen personal representative as identified in the deceased person’s will
  3. The surviving parents of the deceased, if he or she was dependent upon them at the time of death
  4. The administrator of the deceased’s estate, if the deceased was a dependent at the time of his or her death

For further information about wrongful death claims in Tennessee, seek help from a Bristol personal injury attorney. Call Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, P.C. today at 423-797-6022 to schedule your free initial consultation, or contact us online.

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