Johnson City Wrongful Death Lawyers
The unexpected death of a loved one is an extremely stressful, painful, and confusing time for grieving families. When the deceased had been a family’s primary income provider, the death can be especially distressing, since the grieving family is suddenly without income as well.
Tennessee Code § 20-5-106 establishes that the deceased’s surviving spouse, children or next of kin, personal representative, or natural parents are passed the right of action after their death caused by another person. This right is commonly referred to as a wrongful death action. Through this kind of action, you may be able to recover financial compensation to pay for your loved one’s medical expenses leading up to their death, their funeral, and any loss of support, income, inheritance, and more you might experience.
To successfully bring a wrongful death action, you will want an experienced lawyer’s help. When you retain legal counsel, your lawyer can take care of all necessary court requirements relating to your legal action, allowing you time to grieve.
Was your loved one killed in an accident caused by another party’s negligence in Johnson City? Do not wait to get help with your wrongful death claim. The Law Offices of Seaton & Bates, PLLC understand the tremendous effects a loved one’s death has on a family, and our firm fights to hold negligent parties accountable. You can have our attorneys review your case when you call (423) 282-1041 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Do I Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Wrongful death claims can become complicated because of various factors. In most cases, the primary challenge will be proving that a defendant was responsible for your loved one’s death.
Insurance companies for negligent parties often attempt to find ways to avoid or minimize liability in these situations. In some circumstances, insurers may quickly offer victims lump-sum settlements to resolve the case, but the proposed settlements are almost always much less than what victims are genuinely entitled to.
Another common problem in wrongful death actions concerns disputes among family members about how any awards should be divided. Make sure that you retain an attorney as soon as possible, not only for assistance in dealing with insurance companies but also to preserve your rights when other family members are trying to exercise greater control.
Other dependents of the deceased may have the ability to challenge settlements. The Law Offices of Seaton & Bates, PLLC can help navigate any issues arising with competing claims from other family members.
Why Choose the Law Offices of Seaton & Bates, PLLC to Handle My Case?
When you work with the Law Offices of Seaton & Bates, PLLC, you will have a team of attorneys dedicated to achieving the most favorable possible resolution to your case. Our firm understands the devastating toll the sudden loss of a loved one creates, and we will be both compassionate and dedicated to providing you with the assistance that you need.
Tony Seaton is a board-certified specialist in Civil Trial Practice with over three decades of legal experience. He won the Tennessee Association for Justice Paladin Award in 2012 and received an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell, a peer rating denoting the highest level of professional excellence.
Robert Bates was named to the Top 40 Under 40 list by the National Association of Personal Injury Attorneys in 2015. A member of the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association, he was a Dean’s Scholar and graduated in the top five of his class at the Appalachian School of Law.
Our team of personal injury lawyers represent clients on a contingency fee basis, so you pay nothing until you get a financial award. Our firm can negotiate a just settlement to your case, or we can file a lawsuit if an insurer does not make a satisfactory offer.
Types of Wrongful Death Cases We Handle
Wrongful death can occur as a result of many different acts or accidents. Some of the most common accidents causing wrongful deaths include, but are not limited to:
- Car Accidents — These may include rear-end or T-bone accidents, head-on collisions, and possibly drunk or drugged driving crashes.
- Truck Accidents — Crashes involving commercial trucks may be fatal in underride accidents, lane change accidents, or overloaded vehicle accidents.
- Motorcycle Accidents — Left-turn accidents involving motorcycles often result in fatal injuries, but other types of collisions can also be deadly.
- Boat Accidents — Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs risks causing fatal collisions, possibly with swimmers.
- Medical Malpractice — Certain birth injuries can be fatal, but surgical error, misdiagnosis, or delayed diagnosis can also lead to wrongful deaths.
- Defective and Dangerous Products — Defectively manufactured everday consumer products can cause fatal injuries.
- Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect — Nursing home residents may be the victims of wrongful death when a facility has not provided appropriate care.
Some wrongful death cases stem from acts that result in criminal charges, such as assault or murder. It is essential for family members to understand that criminal cases are separate from civil actions. Even if the person responsible for your loved one’s death is ultimately acquitted of their criminal charges, you may still be able to recover compensation from them. Perhaps the best-known example of this difference is the case of O.J. Simpson. Simpson was acquitted of murder in the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, but was later found liable for their wrongful deaths, with a jury awarding the families $8.5 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wrongful Death
We hope that you have never had to file a wrongful death lawsuit before, but that also means you likely have many questions about what to expect from the process. We have included the answers to some of the questions we hear the most below.
Under Tennessee Code § 28-3-104, a person has one year to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The period typically begins on the date of the person’s death (which may be several days, weeks, or months after the date of the original accident). The statute of limitations can be “tolled,” or extended, in some cases, such as when the beneficiary is a minor who is not of age to file a legal action. A court can also extend the statute of limitations if it finds that a defendant committed fraud or acted to conceal evidence in a wrongful death case.
Many wrongful death cases are ultimately resolved through settlements, but some cases do go to trial. In such cases, plaintiffs can be awarded various damages. Some of the damages commonly awarded in wrongful death cases include compensation for medical bills up until the deceased's death, funeral and burial expenses, lost income and earning capacity, mental anguish, loss of consortium, and loss of counsel.
In Tennessee, the proceeds of a wrongful death action are typically distributed under intestate succession laws. Though certain exceptions exist, the following guidelines apply in cases where:
- The adult deceased had no spouse or children — The wrongful death proceeds will be awarded to that individual’s parents.
- The adult deceased had been married without children — All damages are assigned to that person’s surviving spouse.
- The adult deceased had been married with children — The spouse will split the award equally with the children unless there are more than three (then the spouse receives one-third, and the remaining two-thirds is divided equally among all children).
- The minor deceased had no spouse or children — The parents recover the wrongful death award.
If your case looks different than the scenarios listed above, contact [firm-name] to learn how damages might be divided in your particular situation.
The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention reported that accidents were the fourth leading cause of death in Tennessee in 2014. Accidents accounted for 3,781 deaths in the state that year, including 986 firearm deaths and 1,269 drug poisoning deaths.
CBS News reported that Tennessee had the nation’s 10th highest death by firearm rate with a rate of 15.4 deaths per 100,000 population. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security, there were 208,230 total traffic crashes in 2017. Washington County had ten fatal crashes, Sullivan County had 18 fatal crashes, and Carter County had five fatal crashes.
The Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security reported that 1,699 pedestrians and other pedestrians (defined as people in or on pedestrian conveyances and buildings, skateboard riders, people on roller skates, sled riders, and unknown nonmotorists) were involved in traffic crashes in Tennessee in 2017. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports 120 fatalities involving large trucks in Tennessee in 2016.
The Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security also reported 147 motorcyclist fatalities in 2016, the most of any year recorded since 1998. According to the agency, the 302 bicycle accidents in Tennessee in 2018 included five fatal crashes.
Contact a Johnson City Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If your loved one was killed by another party’s negligence or maliciousness in the Greater Johnson City area, you should not wait to take legal action. Make sure that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible so you can take advantage of your legal rights to compensation. Law Offices of Seaton & Bates, PLLC will work tirelessly to help you recover every dollar that you are entitled. Call (423) 282-1041 or contact us online to set up a free consultation