What To Do If Your Loved One Died Due To The Fault Of Another


Wrongful death is a death caused by the fault of another person or corporation for which the family of the deceased person can sue and be compensated for their grief and loss of companionship.

When a person dies, a death certificate must be issued by either the doctor who provided the care near the time of the person’s death or by the State medical examiner. If the death was from “natural causes” such as a sudden health event or a long-standing illness, the deceased person’s doctor usually completes the death certificate. However, if the death was due to something other than “natural causes”, such as a traumatic event or a crime, the medical examiner is required to complete the death certificate. In Oklahoma, the medical examiner is also required to complete the death certificate in all cases where the deceased person is to be cremated.

The cause of most unexpected deaths are obvious, such as a car collision or work related event. However, sometimes the circumstances of death are not so clear. In circumstances of wrongful death where the cause of death is not so obvious, the death certificate is important in confirming the death was due to the fault of another, and was not from “natural causes.” A good example is the death of an elderly person who falls and fractures a hip in a nursing home due to staff neglect and dies a few months later from complications in surgery or recovery. Since the fracture was from a traumatic event, the death would technically be ruled as “accidental” because the fall was the root cause of the injury that naturally led to and caused the death.

So, what can be done to ensure your loved one’s death certificate is completed accurately?

The last thing anyone thinks about after losing a loved one after an accident or event like a medical procedure is taking steps to determine who is responsible for the death. The overwhelming feeling of grief and loss naturally takes over and there is simply no energy to take action beyond supporting family and dealing with your own grief.

But when the grief subsides or emotional anger takes over days later, most people want answers. By then, it may be too late to find the truth. However, there are things than can be done at the time of death that will lay the groundwork for you to get the answers you will want later.

In Oklahoma, the medical examiner is responsible to determine cause and manner of deaths that are due to something other than natural causes. In fact, health care providers are required to notify the medical examiner if a death is possibly due to an accident. Unfortunately, health care providers often fail to do so.

Regardless, the family has a right to report the suspicious death of a loved one directly to the medical examiner. A simple call to the medical examiners office in Tulsa or Oklahoma City can trigger an immediate investigation. Typically, an investigator is assigned to investigate the death, which may include and a quick decision on whether to do an autopsy, gather and review medical records, conduct healthcare provider interviews, or a combination of these steps.

At the GT Law Firm, we have contacted the medical examiner on behalf of families whose loved one died under circumstances considered to be wrongful death. We immediately take the steps necessary to protect the family while they grieve and support each other through the loss of a loved one. 

If you believe your loved one has died due to the fault of another give us a call to discuss and see if you have a case, there is no charge to you for this consultation.Even if you have talked to another lawyer, it is within your rights to talk to others to ensure you find the right fit for you. 918.743.3306 or 405.757.7304 

If you prefer email, click here to email Guy Thiessen directly and he will respond within 24 hours. Guy has over 26 years experience in Oklahoma helping families get the answers and compensation they deserve in personaly injury and wrongful death cases.

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