Tulsa Wrongful Death Lawyer
We are Compassionate, Experienced Advocates for Grieving Families in Tulsa At McGuire Law Firm, our Tulsa wrongful death attorneys are compassionate, experienced, and knowledgeable advocates for grieving families in Oklahoma. The loss of a close loved one in an accident that never should have happened is devastating. You need strong, effective legal representation. If you lost a loved one in an accident caused by the negligence of any other party, we are here to help. For a free, fully confidential initial consultation with an experienced Oklahoma wrongful death lawyer, please do not hesitate to contact us today.
Wrongful Deaths Can Occur in a Wide Range of Accidents
Wrongful deaths are devastating events that can leave loved ones searching for answers and justice. The untimely loss of someone close to you is one of the most heartbreaking, gut-wrenching experiences that any person could ever be forced to ensure. These tragic incidents can occur in a wide range of accidents. At McGuire Law Firm, we are strong advocates for grieving families. Our Tulsa wrongful death attorneys are dedicated to handling all types of claims. Along with other wrongful death cases, we are qualified to handle the following types of fatal accidents:
- Car Accidents: Every year, tens of thousands of people in the United States lose their lives in car accidents due to reckless driving, intoxicated motorists, or faulty vehicle components. These fatalities are often the direct result of someone else's negligence, making them wrongful deaths for which survivors can seek legal compensation.
- Semi-Truck Accidents: Given their size and weight, semi-truck accidents often result in severe injuries or fatalities. Fatal semi-truck accidents can be caused by driver fatigue, improper vehicle maintenance, or even reckless driving, all of which could result in a claim for wrongful death.
- Motorcycle Accident: Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable on the road. An accident can lead to catastrophic outcomes. Whether caused by another motorist's negligence or a defect in the motorcycle's design or manufacture, such incidents could constitute a wrongful death claim.
- Pedestrian Collisions: When drivers fail to pay attention, pedestrians pay the price. Whether it is a motorist ignoring a crosswalk or a driver speeding through a populated area, these wrongful deaths can be tragic and completely avoidable. We fight for the rights of families who lost a loved one in a fatal pedestrian crash.
- Premises Liability: Property owners have a responsibility to maintain safe premises. When they fail to do so, visitors can suffer injuries or even lose their lives. Premises liability cases are based on negligence, such as poorly maintained structures or lack of security.
- Dangerous and Defective Products: Manufacturers are required to ensure their products are safe for use. When a product is dangerous or defective, it can cause fatal accidents, from faulty appliances leading to fires to dangerous pharmaceutical drugs causing unforeseen side effects. Product liability claims can lead to a wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturer. These may be strict liability claims in Oklahoma.
- Workplace Accidents: Employers are obliged to provide a safe work environment. When they neglect this duty, it can lead to fatal accidents, from falls on construction sites to toxic exposure in industrial settings. A family may have a claim for death benefits through workers’ compensation insurance. Beyond that, workers' families may have grounds to file wrongful death claims in such cases. A third party may be liable for a fatal workplace accident.
- Medical Malpractice: The healthcare field is one where precision and care are vital. Mistakes, negligence, or deliberate misconduct by healthcare professionals can lead to fatal outcomes. Medical malpractice comes in many different forms—from surgical errors to misdiagnosis
What is a Wrongful Death?
In Oklahoma, wrongful death claims are governed by Okla. Stat. tit. 12, § 1053. Broadly speaking, the statute provides the legal framework for the filing of a civil wrongful death claim. Among other things, the law holds that a wrongful death occurs when a person's death is caused by the “wrongful act or omission of another.” What constitutes a wrongful death is highly fact specific. The unique circumstances of the case always matter. To hold a defendant legally liable in a wrongful death claim, plaintiffs must prove that the defendant’s negligence, carelessness, or intentional misconduct contributed to the fatal accident. Ultimately, the central purpose of Oklahoma’s wrongful death statute is to compensate the family members or the estate of the deceased for their loss.
An Overview of Wrongful Death Eligibility in Oklahoma
The unfortunate reality is that not every person who had a close relationship with the victim has rights under Oklahoma’s wrongful death statute. In other words, not everyone can file a wrongful death claim after a fatal accident in Tulsa. Our state has specific guidelines regarding who is eligible to pursue such a case. Notably, pursuant to Oklahoma’s wrongful death statute, the claim itself should generally be initiated by the personal representative of the decedent. The personal representative is most often the executor named in the will or another party selected by a court. When the personal representative brings a wrongful death lawsuit in Tulsa, they do so on behalf of close loved ones of the victim. The claim may be brought on behalf of the following parties:
- Immediate Family: Immediate family members are always the primary beneficiaries in wrongful death claims in Oklahoma. Most notably, this includes the spouse and the children, adopted children, and stepchildren.
- Parents and Siblings: In cases where the deceased is unmarried and has no children, the wrongful death claim may be brought on behalf of parents or siblings.
- Other Dependent Relatives: If no other relative is available or willing to file, any relative who was financially dependent on the deceased may be eligible to recover through a claim.
It is important to note that the specifics of who can file can be complex and vary based on the circumstances surrounding the death. You do not have to figure out these types of complex legal issues alone. Consult with an experienced Tulsa, OK, wrongful death attorney.
Proving Fault in a Wrongful Death Claim
In Oklahoma, wrongful death claims are fault-based legal cases. Notably, proving fault in a wrongful death claim involves establishing a duty of care, breach of that duty, causation, and damages. Put another way, the plaintiff needs to show that the defendant had a responsibility to maintain safety or behave in a certain way to prevent harm (duty of care). It must also be shown that the defendant breached this duty by acting negligently or irresponsibly. The crux of the claim rests on demonstrating that this breach directly caused the victim's death and as a result, quantifiable damages were suffered by the deceased's family or estate.Here is an example of how fault workers in a wrongful death lawsuit in Oklahoma: Imagine that a person was killed in a crash in Tulsa. An investigation revealed that the collision was caused by a drunk driver who was speeding at the time of the collision. The surviving spouse of the victim would have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim against the responsible driver and their insurance company. A wide array of different forms of evidence could be used to establish fault, including things like the police report, photographs, and witness testimony.
Comparative Negligence Could Be a Factor in a Wrongful Death ClaimNotably, Oklahoma operates under a comparative negligence standard. The principle applies to the full range of accident claims, including wrongful death cases. Broadly explained, comparative negligence refers to a legal concept that apportions fault between parties involved in an accident. Here is a simple example of how the system works in practice:
- Imagine that a driver was killed in a crash with a commercial truck in Tulsa. An investigation reveals that the trucking company was 80% at fault for the fatal collision. The deceased driver is assigned 20% culpability due to the fact that they were speeding at the time of the accident. The driver would bear 20% culpability for their own accident. As such, the value of any wrongful death claim initiated by the personal representative of their estate would be reduced by a corresponding 20%.
Oklahoma follows a modified comparative negligence system. Even if the deceased was partially at fault for the incident, their family may still be eligible to recover damages. That being said, if the deceased is found to be 51% or more at fault, they are barred from receiving compensation. As every percentage point of fault matters, it is imperative that grieving families are represented by an experienced Tulsa wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after a deadly accident.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Case in Oklahoma
There is no amount of financial compensation that would ever be sufficient to make up for the loss of a loved one in a fatal accident. At the same time, grieving families need support and financial compensation is the primary remedy provided by the civil justice system in Oklahoma. Here is a broad overview of the damages that may be recovered by a family in a wrongful death lawsuit in Tulsa:
- Economic Damages: Economic damages include the financial contributions the decedent would have made to their dependents if they had not passed away. Economic damages cover elements such as lost wages, lost future earnings, and the loss of benefits such as pension or healthcare. It also encompasses costs associated with funeral and burial expenses.
- Non-Economic Damages: These are intangible losses suffered by the decedent's family, including the emotional pain and suffering caused by the loss. Non-economic damages can also cover the loss of consortium or companionship, as well as the mental anguish experienced. Non-economic damages are often vast in wrongful death claims.
- Punitive Damages: While not always awarded, punitive damages are used to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct in the future. The award of these damages typically requires clear and convincing evidence of reckless disregard for the safety of others.
A Two-Year Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims in Oklahoma
Oklahoma law stipulates a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. The claim must be filed within two years from the date of death. If not, the court will likely dismiss the case regardless of its merits. It is critical to be aware of this deadline, as the process of preparing a wrongful death case can be time-consuming, often requiring extensive collection of evidence, expert testimonies, and detailed legal knowledge. There are very limited exceptions to the statute of limitations. You do not want to fall behind the defense or insurance company in the claims process. Consult with a Tulsa, OK wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after a fatal accident.
Why Trust the Wrongful Death Lawyers at McGuire Law Firm
The loss of a loved one in an avoidable accident is devastating. While nothing could ever truly set things right, our attorneys, Kent McGuire and Linda McGuire, understand that grieving families need justice, legal accountability, and financial support. When you contact our law firm, you will have an opportunity to consult with a Tulsa wrongful death attorney who can:
- Hear your story and explain your rights/options;
- Answer questions about your wrongful death claim;
- Investigate the fatal accident;
- Handle wrongful death paperwork;
- Represent you in any settlement negotiations; and
- Take legal action to fight for justice.
As a small family firm that gets big results, we are qualified to go up against the nation’s largest insurance companies. Our clients deserve personalized legal representation. We encourage you to review our client testimonials and case results and to reach out to our Tulsa wrongful death lawyers directly with any questions about a specific case.
Set Up a Free, Confidential Consultation With a Tulsa Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
At McGuire Law Firm, our Tulas wrongful death attorneys go above and beyond to provide the highest level personalized representation to our clients. You do not have to navigate the system alone. If you have any questions or concerns about a wrongful death claim, we can help. Call us now or contact us online to arrange your free, no commitment initial legal consultation. Our firm provides wrongful death representation to grieving families in Tulsa and throughout Oklahoma.