Losing a loved one can lead to intense grief and also financial hardship for surviving family members. Those who have recently lost a loved one in Oklahoma may have a hard time dealing with their emotions and may worry about how their family will cover basic expenses with one less wage earner contributing to the budget.
It can also be very expensive to have to bring in professional help to cover someone’s unpaid contributions to their household after they die. Childcare, cooking and vehicle maintenance are among the costly services that people often provide to their loved ones for free. The total financial impact of someone’s early death can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes even more than that.
A wrongful death lawsuit filed under Oklahoma’s statute can compensate those affected by the untimely death of a family member. However, there are two important restrictions on Oklahoma wrongful death claims that people need to know before trying to get into court.
Only one person can file
It is not possible to bring multiple wrongful death lawsuits against the same party for a single incident. One individual will file a claim, and state law is very clear about who that will be. Only the personal representative of a deceased individual’s Oklahoma estate has the legal authority to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit after a fatal car crash or a bar fight turned tragic. They will then need to use any proceeds for estate obligations and then distribute any remaining amount among the immediate family members most impacted by the death.
There is a deadline for filing
It can take some time to initiate probate proceedings and have the courts acknowledge or appoint a personal representative for estate administration purposes. That delay can possibly endanger the opportunity to seek civil justice. There is a two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits filed in the Oklahoma civil courts. If family members do not discuss the economic consequences of the death with the representative of the estate and push for litigation early, they may lose the opportunity to demand compensation from the individual or business that caused their family’s tragedy.
Seeking legal guidance to learn more about the basics of Oklahoma wrongful death claims may help those who are considering their options after losing a loved one unexpectedly.