Tennessee statute defines wrongful death as death from injuries caused by another or death instigated by an unlawful act, omission or killing. Since the deceased cannot sue another party for bodily harm, Tennessee allows family members or the representative to file a suit.
Whoever files the suit may receive awards for damages. These types of compensations include economic, noneconomic and punitive.
As in other personal injury cases, a wrongful death claim intends to provide compensation to cover economic losses and expenses. These awards may involve:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Loss of benefits
The family may also receive money to replace the value of future salaries and benefits.
Noneconomic damages do not have a specific dollar amount. This compensation provides money based on the impact the death has on the survivors, such as:
- Loss of the relationship
- Loss of love and companionship
- Loss of guidance, protection and advice
- Mental distress experienced by the deceased
- Physical and mental suffering by family members
Because it is difficult to calculate a monetary award, the judge and jury consider the deceased’s pain and suffering. The state caps noneconomic awards at $750,000.
In Tennessee, sometimes family members can receive awards for punitive damages. The courts use this type of damage to punish those who used malicious intent to cause death.
Family members or the representative of the decedent’s estate must file a wrongful death lawsuit within one year of the date of death. The court may extend the time limit in certain circumstances.