When a person is killed because of another individual's act of negligence or omission, Oklahoma statutes allow a representative of the deceased to pursue a civil action against the allegedly at-fault party in court. If the action is successful, the claimant may be awarded a number of damages associated with the death. The damages that may be recoverable through a lawsuit can vary depending on the case.
For example, the funerary or medical expenses accrued by the decedent is recoverable in many cases. In addition, pecuniary damages may be awarded to the victim's survivors. The amount of that compensation would be based on a number of factors, including the age, health and earning capacity of the decedent. The Oklahoma Statutes also allow the courts to order the payment of exemplary or punitive damages.
The party that receives the compensation can vary as well. Payouts that are associated with the cost of medical treatment and burial services are transferred to the individual or governmental organization that paid the expenses. The assets might also be placed into the decedent's estate if it covered those costs. The pecuniary and punitive damages are generally given to a surviving spouse, the decedent's children or next of kin.
When a plaintiff is seeking these wrongful death damages, he or she might choose to work with a personal injury lawyer. That lawyer could review the relevant evidence, estimate the amount of compensation a client may be awarded and build a case that demonstrates the defendant's liability for those damages. That lawyer could also present that case on the client's behalf in court or represent the client's interests in settlement negotiations with the defendant.