top of page
  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Navigating Wrongful Death Claims: Who Can File Wrongful Death in Tennessee?

Losing a loved one is like losing a limb. Although it's possible to heal, those left behind are never the same again. It can be even harder to deal with the painful loss of someone you hold dear when their death is the result of negligence.

Fortunately, the surviving family members can pursue justice as a final act of retribution for the wrong that was done. However, understanding who can file a wrongful death lawsuit is an important step in the legal process.

This article will provide a comprehensive overview of who is allowed to bring a Tennessee wrongful death claim and Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also answer How long do you have to file wrongful death in Tennessee?

What Is "Wrongful Death?"

What Is "Wrongful Death?"

Before delving into the family members who can bring a wrongful death claim, it's important to first understand how Tennessee law defines "wrongful death." Tenn. Code § 20-5-106 (2021) specifies what may be considered a wrongful death. According to the statute, it's evident that:

  • Wrongful death pertains to the loss of people and fetuses.

  • Their death was caused either by injuries inflicted by someone else or was the result of an act of omission, intentional harm, or wrongful activity.

The state of Tennessee recognizes wrongful death as a kind of personal injury claim that the deceased cannot make on their own. Instead, it is the responsibility of the family members to do so.

Keep in mind that the at-fault party's liability in the case of wrongful death, as in all personal injury cases, is defined primarily in terms of monetary compensation or damages that the presiding judge orders the party responsible to pay to the decedent's family or estate.

Who Can File a Tennessee Wrongful Death Claim?

Tennessee's wrongful death laws also specify who will be eligible to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for a wrongful act, negligence, or medical malpractice.

The Surviving Spouse

The individual who was lawfully married to the decedent at the time of their death has the first right to initiate an action for wrongful death. If no surviving spouse is found, the claim is passed on to the victim's children.

Surviving Children

In the event that the decedent's spouse is no longer alive, then the right to file a wrongful death claim passes to his or her children. However, if the person who died did not have children, then the right to sue will pass to their siblings.


If there is no surviving spouse or children, then the siblings of the deceased will then be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party.

Surviving Parents

In cases where the decedent was reliant on his or her parents, they will have the right to file a lawsuit and receive compensation for their loss.

A Personal Representative of the Decedent's Estate

Suppose the deceased did not have any living family members at the time of their death. In that case, a representative of his or her estate will then have the legal right to file a wrongful death claim.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The state provides family members with a limited timeframe in which to pursue justice for the loss of their loved one. Like other personal injury cases, surviving family members have one year from the death of the decedent to bring wrongful death lawsuits.

Because these cases are often complex and require investigation to identify key evidence, it's important that family members approach a seasoned wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible so that the legal representative can begin building a Tennessee wrongful death case.

Claiming Damages in a Wrongful Death Suit

Although no amount of money could ever replace someone you love, it can certainly help to ease the financial burden that victims often face. There are two main types of claims that often form part of a Tennessee wrongful death lawsuit.

Compensation for the Deceased's Damages

A survival claim is the first. It aims to recover damages incurred by the deceased before they died. This includes the following:

  • Medical expenses

  • Property damage

  • Lost wages

  • Financial benefits that they would have received

  • Pain and suffering

Compensation for the Surviving Family Members

The second is a standard wrongful death claim. This compensation is designed to compensate family members for the damages they suffered as a result of the loss of their loved one. This includes the following:

  • Outstanding medical bills

  • Funeral and burial costs

  • The loss of income

  • Loss of companionship

In some cases, punitive damages may also be recovered. These damages are awarded by a court when a criminal act leads to a person's wrongful death. They are awarded with the intention of punishing the party at fault for their wrongful act that led to the decedent's death.

Obtaining Legal Representation

Obtaining Legal Representation

Wrongful death suits are often complex, as there are many variables involved. Moreover, navigating important Tennessee wrongful death laws can be challenging, which is why it is important for family members to ensure that they have the legal aid they require.

Attorneys can offer valuable advice and help guide families as they pursue restitution. They also know how to calculate damages accurately, so families can obtain the maximum compensation. They can also help with questions like Can you get whiplash from a motorcycle accident?

When hiring a legal representative, families can ensure that the case will be handled with the care and dedication that it deserves and ensure that they are doing all they can to hold the responsible party liable for their wrongdoing.

Schuerger Shuunnarah Trial Attorneys Offers Reliable Legal Defense

The loss of a loved one can cause a great deal of emotional trauma, especially if it happens unexpectedly and without warning. When their death was the result of someone else's negligence, it can make it even more painful and hard to live with.

While pursuing restitution through a wrongful death claim will not replace what was lost, it can help families cope and begin their journey of healing.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys understand the importance of approaching each case with respect and care. They also offer aggressive legal representation to ensure that justice is met and families are compensated adequately for their loss.

To schedule a free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer, families can call Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys.


bottom of page