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Navigating Wrongful Death Claims Involving Minors in Murfreesboro

The death of a minor child is a devastating loss for any family. When that death is caused by the negligence or misconduct of another party, the grieving family may have legal options. In Tennessee, wrongful death claims can be filed by specific family members, including parents, to hold the responsible party accountable. This article provides an overview of key considerations when navigating wrongful death claims involving minors in Murfreesboro.

Determining If You Have a Valid Wrongful Death Claim

The first step is evaluating if you have grounds for a wrongful death claim. Under Tennessee law, family members may pursue compensation for losses if negligence, misconduct, or an intentional act caused the death of their minor child. Some common scenarios include:

  • Medical malpractice – Death resulting from medical errors like surgical mistakes, medication errors, or misdiagnosis.
  • Vehicle collisions – Deaths caused by reckless or impaired drivers.
  • Defective products – Fatal injuries from dangerous or defective consumer products.
  • Premises liability – Death on another's property due to unsafe conditions.
  • Workplace accidents – On-the-job fatalities involving negligence.

To have a valid claim, there must be provable misconduct or negligence leading to the death, and quantifiable losses suffered by the family members.

An experienced wrongful death attorney in Murfreesboro can help determine if you meet the criteria.

Filing a Claim – Who Can Be a Plaintiff?

Under Tennessee Code § 20-5-106, eligible plaintiffs in a wrongful death suit include:

  • Surviving spouse of the deceased
  • Children of the deceased
  • Parents of the deceased

If the decedent has no living spouse or children, siblings or personal representative of the estate may also have standing. For minors, parents are most often the plaintiffs as next of kin. However, grandparents, biological parents, or adoptive parents may also be eligible depending on the circumstances.

Special Considerations for Minors

Wrongful death cases involving minors have some unique considerations:

Limited Damages

Tennessee is one of few U.S. states that caps damages in wrongful death suits. As per T.C.A. § 20-5-113, compensatory damages are capped at $750,000 per plaintiff, regardless of damages proven. Punitive damages have no cap.

Calculating Economic Losses

Economic damages can be trickier to quantify for a minor. While an adult's income and earning potential can be easier to establish, calculating the losses for a child's future potential requires expert analysis. Economists can provide opinions on factors like average career earnings to help fairly compensate based on a minor's presumed trajectory.

Shorter Statute of Limitations

For a minor under 15 years old, Tennessee's statute of limitations is just one year from the date of death to file a claim. Other plaintiffs have two years. This compressed timeframe makes swift action essential.

Finding an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney

Those pursuing a wrongful death claim require legal counsel with specific expertise in this complex area of law. Locating attorneys with a proven track record with these cases is advised. In Murfreesboro, some factors to seek out include:

  • Local experience – Knowledge of state laws, the local legal system, potential expert witnesses, and more.
  • Specialization – An attorney focused specifically on wrongful death and personal injury law.
  • Resources – The financial resources to thoroughly investigate the claim and go to trial if necessary.
  • Reputation – A respected attorney known for taking on tough opponents and delivering results is ideal.

The Tennessee Bar Association and peer reviews can aid in locating well-qualified counsel. Those handling the high-value case of a deceased minor require a fierce advocate in their corner.

Steps Involved in an Minors Wrongful Death Lawsuit

If retained, a wrongful death attorney will take the following key steps to build a strong case and pursue compensation:

  1. Investigation

    Thoroughly investigating the incident is crucial. The attorney will work to gather evidence, interview witnesses, consult experts, inspect the scene, and fully establish the sequence of events and liability factors involved. Reconstructing the fatal incident is essential.

  2. Gather Documentation

    Documents needed to pursue a claim include the minor's death certificate, medical records, police reports, autopsy findings, insurance paperwork, and evidence of the survivors' relationship to the deceased.

  3. Calculate Damages

    The lawyer, accountants, and financial experts will work to calculate both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages cover things like lost future earnings and medical/funeral costs. Non-economic covers losses like love and companionship.

  4. File Claim

    The wrongful death complaint is filed with the Circuit Court to initiate the lawsuit and state the grounds for relief sought. This begins the litigation process. Defendants typically have 30 days to respond.

Finding Closure Through Justice

The grief of losing a child can seem insurmountable. Though the legal system cannot mend all wounds, it provides a means for mourning families to gain a sense of justice and accountability. An attorney well-versed in these sensitive cases can guide families through the complex legal process while aggressively advancing their case. With an experienced advocate, families can feel empowered to fight for the full and fair compensation the law provides.

Get Experienced Legal Guidance After Losing a Child

Losing a child is an unimaginable tragedy. If your child's wrongful death involved negligence by another party, you may be entitled to compensation. However, pursuing a wrongful death claim on behalf of a minor comes with unique legal complexities.

The attorneys at Gritton & Gritton understand how to navigate wrongful death claims involving minors in Murfreesboro. Our legal team has nearly 30 years of experience securing maximum compensation for grieving families.

Our goal is to alleviate the financial stress so you can focus on healing. If your family has lost a child due to another's negligence in Murfreesboro, contact Gritton & Gritton today for dedicated legal guidance. Contact us today at 615-285-5472 for a free consultation.

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