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The Constitution of the United States protects the right of each person to enjoy LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. When one person dies due to the carelessness or wrongful conduct of another, the surviving members of the victim’s family can bring an action against the responsible people or companies for “wrongful death”. Such death may have been inflicted negligently, as in a car accident or botched surgery. It may also occur as a result of a deliberate act, such as murder. Either way, the survivors can seek money damages against the party who caused the death. The damages are pursued in a CIVIL action, separate an apart from any CRIMINAL charges that the exemplary or punitive damages might bring. In Oklahoma, the items which make up such damages are spelled out in in the Civil Uniform Jury Instructions as follows:
- The loss of financial support of contributions of money to the [husband/wife] [and] [children] [and][parents] of the decedent;
- The grief of the surviving [husband/wife];
- The loss of the society, services, companionship, and marriage relationship of the [husband/wife];
- The grief of the [children] [and] [parents] of the decedent;
- The loss of companionship and parental care, training, guidance, or education that would have been forthcoming from [name of decedent] to the children, and the loss of companionship of [name of decedent] by the children;
- The loss of the companionship of [name of decedent] by [his/her] parents;
- The pain and suffering of [name of decedent];
- The medical and burial expenses.
It is important to note that, in addition to the above, punitive damages can be awarded in cases of serious or malicious conduct, or conduct which shows reckless disregard for the rights of others. Oklahoma law clearly allows recovery of such damages to serve as a deterrent to such bad conduct and for the protection of society in general. It is wise to seek an attorney to find out if such damages may also apply in your case. Of course, no one can actually predetermine what a judge might rule in a specific case. But, it is important to call us as soon as you know that your family has sustained a loss of life through the conduct of another person or corporation. Once that information is received, we can begin the process of investigating on your behalf.