According to Chapter 12, Section 1053 of the Oklahoma Statutes, wrongful death is a situation in which the death of one person is caused by the negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct of another person. In this situation, a representative is chosen who will best represent the interests of the estate of the person who was killed.
In Oklahoma, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by the “personal representative” of the decedent. This representative may have been named in the deceased person’s estate plan. If there is no estate plan, or if the person named in the estate plan is unable or unwilling to serve, then the court may appoint a representative.
Often, the representative will be the spouse of the deceased person, but it may also be a parent, sibling, or child. The reason for this is due to the family member often having the best connection to the interests of the person who was killed as well as their estate, due to them most likely having an interest in the estate through a will. However, it is also possible to appoint a neutral third party if several family members are unable to decide who would represent the interests of everyone involved and the estate.
Whatever the choice may be, this representative of the deceased family member’s estate essentially stands in the place of that person, filling a wrongful death claim on their behalf for their estate, becoming a lawsuit brought on behalf of their loved ones seeking the compensation for damages the person would have been entitled to.
Oklahoma has a statute of limitations when it comes to wrongful death cases. In order for a family to pursue damages for the loss of their loved one, they must bring a claim within two years of the date of the death. If a claim is not brought forth within this time frame, the claim will almost certainly be barred from the court and they will forfeit their right to legal action.