While death is unavoidable, wrongful death, by definition, could have, and absolutely should have, been avoided. Per FindLaw, Tennessee statute § 20-5-113 notes that a wrongful death lawsuit claims someone did something wrong or failed to do something right and that act or failure to act caused the death of another person.

There is a time limit on how long surviving family members have to file the lawsuit. FindLaw notes that the statute of limitations is one year from the date that the person died.

Tennessee law also restricts who can file the lawsuit. The spouse has the right to file, or if there is no spouse, then the child of the deceased or the next of kin. A parent may file in certain circumstances. The personal representative—the person filling the role of the executor or administrator of the estate—may also file the lawsuit.

While placing a financial value on the loss of a person is not actually possible, the law describes the damages that a plaintiff may claim in the lawsuit. Some of these are straightforward. For example, if a spouse claims that there is a loss of financial support, the calculation for the compensation may include the amount of the most recent salary of the deceased, as well as an estimate of his or her future earning potential. Medical bills, funeral costs and burial expenses are also relatively easy to figure.

Estimating monetary compensation for the pain and suffering of the deceased before he or she died is not simple. Even so, this is often sought by the plaintiff in wrongful death litigation. The surviving family member may seek compensation for his or her own mental anguish and the loss of the deceased person’s companionship, as well.