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What is Wrongful Death?


When a devastating accident leads to a loss of life, the victim’s loved ones can file a claim for wrongful death against those responsible for the death. The rules for filing a wrongful death claim are more complex than filing a lawsuit for personal injuries, and many families run the risk of losing their right to compensation for wrongful death by attempting to navigate this complex process alone. At Mitch Grissim & Associates, our Nashville wrongful death lawyers are here to help your family after a tragic loss. Call the office or contact us today to schedule a free consultation of your case.

Tennessee Wrongful Death

Tennessee statutes define wrongful death as one that was caused by injuries received from another or caused by the wrongful act, omission, or killing by another. Another way to think of a wrongful death claim is that, but for the loss of life, the victim in the accident would have otherwise been able to file a personal injury claim. However, since the victim died as a result of their injuries, the family of the victim files a lawsuit for damages in their place.

A wrongful death claim is a civil action for compensation, and it is important to understand that this is different than criminal charges that may be filed against those responsible for the loss of life. In addition, criminal charges are not required to file a civil case for wrongful death, although a criminal conviction can be used as compelling evidence in a wrongful death claim. The evidentiary standard is also lower in civil cases, requiring only that the judge or jury believe by a preponderance of the evidence that the wrongdoer is guilty of the offense, which makes it easier for the family of the victim to be compensated for their loss.

Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim?

The law in Tennessee allows either a family member of the victim or the victim’s personal representative for their estate file a wrongful death claim. The person with first priority to file is the victim’s spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, then the following family members, in order, have priority to file a claim on behalf of the deceased:

  • Surviving children
  • Personal representative of the estate
  • Surviving parents, if the victim was a dependent at the time of death
  • The administrator of the estate, if the victim was a dependent at the time of death

Family members only have one year from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim against a wrongdoer in a fatal accident. Known as the statute of limitations, failure to file in this window means that the court can throw out the lawsuit and bar the loved ones from collecting damages for their loss. This is why it is critical that you have an experienced Tennessee wrongful death attorney handle your case.

Talk to Our Office

If you would like to speak with a Tennessee wrongful death attorney, call or contact Mitch Grissim & Associates in Nashville today to schedule a free consultation.


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