A Tennessee bus crash that left eight people dead and fourteen injured has received significant media attention over the past several months due to the crash’s resulting injuries. The scene was so horrific that one police officer said the crash was “’so horrific … it’s probably the worst that I have seen in my career … and I’ve worked in several, several counties in my’ 17 years on the job.”
The identities of the occupants who perished at the crash reveal that none were under the age of 62 years old, meaning they left behind a lifetime of family and friends to mourn their losses.
After a person dies, the probate court oversees the settling of the deceased person’s estate. But which court has jurisdiction when the cause of death involved the negligent or reckless acts of another? Who may sue on behalf of the perished victim, and in which court?
The estate of the deceased has standing to file a wrongful death claim against the tortfeasor, that is, the responsible party. The estate would include the designated representative, either an executor or trustee. Whether that person was named the executor or trustee depends on what type of estate planning the decedent had in place. The estate’s representative would file a wrongful death claim in civil court on behalf of the beneficiaries of the estate. In the case, the wrongful death attorney in conjunction with the estate representative would present evidence regarding whether the deceased experienced pain and suffering prior to dying, any lost future wages if applicable, and the loss of consortium that the beneficiaries experienced.
Using the Tennessee bus crash as an example, the facts and initial police reports indicate that a faulty or otherwise malfunctioned tire on the church bus may have caused the crash. The crash created a fire so intense that dental records had to be used to identify the victims, indicating that the deceased may have had some degree of pain and suffering prior to death. As of this post, no cases have been filed against the church, and it is possible no injured parties would choose to assert such an action.
If you’re loved one has died as a result of a car crash or other personal injury, contact a wrongful death attorney to discuss the rights of the estate and its beneficiaries in filing a wrongful death case.