Wrongful Death: Minor Victims and Minor Heirs

Wrongful Death: Minor Victims and Minor HeirsIt’s always tragic when someone dies due to the negligence of another person or entity. It’s heartbreaking when the victim is a child, or crushing when the victim’s children are left to navigate the world without their parents. Wrongful death cases involving minor children are especially complex. Our experienced Tulsa wrongful death lawyers navigate families through these complexities and these extremely difficult times.

There are three pressing concerns in wrongful death cases involving minor children:

Choosing the personal representative

Typically, the personal representative is named in a will, or appointed by an administrator if there is no will. But things are different when minor children are involved.

  • If the child dies, the parents or next-of-kin can bring the claim.
  • If the parents die, the named representative will bring the claim.
  • If the parents die intestate, the grandparents may need to file the wrongful death claim.

Dealing with lost wages and future income

Oklahoma provides that survivors can claim pecuniary losses – the loss of wages and future earning potential. If the survivor is the child, then the representative can include this loss in the claim.

When the victim is a minor child, the law is different. Under Oklahoma Statute 12-12-1055 (2019):

the damages recoverable shall include medical and burial expense, loss of anticipated services and support, loss of companionship and love of the child, destruction of parent-child relationship and loss of monies expended by parents or guardian in support, maintenance and education of such minor child, in such amount as, under all circumstances of the case, may be just.

Making a claim for grief, pain, and suffering

Wrongful death damages include the funeral and burial costs, plus the grief and loss of companionship of the child who died. For parents, their grief and loss are unimaginable.

In egregious cases, the wrongful death claim may also include punitive damages which normally are paid to the child’s estate.

How parents can protect their minor children

If you have not created an estate plan yet, now is the time to do so. A will can outline who your child’s legal guardian(s) will be in the event of your untimely death. If both parents were involved in the accident, or the accident kills one parent and leaves the other parent incapacitated, then:

  • A guardian ad litem may be appointed to represent the child’s financial interest in the wrongful death case, unless
  • A guardian is named in a will.

You may also wish to create a trust for your children. The assets held in trust can’t be paid directly to the minor children. Instead, they will be held until reaches the age of 18 (or 21, or another age of your choosing). The parent or a legal guardian manages the trust on behalf of the child during the child’s minority status.

At Biby Law Firm, our Tulsa wrongful death lawyers know that the loss of a loved one can be devastating. We compassionately guide the surviving family members through this difficult time. We work to obtain all the compensation the law permits. To speak with a premier Tulsa wrongful death attorney, call us at 918-574-8458 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.