Tennessee Wrongful Death Attorney

Finding Help for Grieving Family Members

Video Transcript:

Chris Gilreath:

Any circumstance where a loved one has been harmed and then passed away from circumstances and things that are preventable that someone else created.

Nancy Zambrano:

Do you think you might have a wrongful desk case? If so, what do you do? Well, those are the answers we're getting on this episode of Ask the Lawyer. Hi everybody, I'm Nancy Zambrano with AskTheLawyers.com, and today my guest is Tennessee attorney, Chris Gilreath. Now, I wanna remind you, if you have your own questions for Chris, you can always go to our site AskTheLawyers.com, and click on the button at the top of the page that says, Ask the Lawyer. Chris, it's so great to see you. Thanks for joining us today.

Chris Gilreath:

You're welcome, Nancy. Great to be here.

Nancy Zambrano:

Now, let's start at the beginning. Wrongful death. It sounds pretty self-explanatory. But what does it mean, as far as the law is concerned? 

Chris Gilreath:

The law considers it a category of cases. Wrongful death really means any circumstance where a loved one has been harmed and then passed away from circumstances and things that were preventable that someone else created, and those are civil claims. It's different from the criminal claims where someone is tried of a crime and then put in jail.

Nancy Zambrano:

And how is a wrongful death different than a catastrophic injury case?

Chris Gilreath:

Wrongful death can include catastrophic injury cases, but it really is meant to cover a broader scope of claims where someone, whether it's a catastrophic situation or something much simpler, actually passes away as a result of the harm.

Nancy Zambrano:

And can you tell us just about some of the wrongful death cases that you've tried?

Chris Gilreath:

Sure, one of the early cases that I tried was a motor vehicle case, where I represented a family where their father was driving down the road and a state mowing crew was mowing a median and the mower had encroached into the highway, so the gentleman was driving down the road minding his own business, the mower clipped the car, he lost control of the car, and unfortunately he was killed as a result of that crash. And so that was one situation that was a wrongful death case against the state of Tennessee. There are other cases that I've tried involving complications during a medical procedure such as a surgery, where patients didn't respond well to anesthesia and something happened during the procedure and they passed away. I've also represented individuals who have been attendees at public festivals, some disaster happens, and unfortunately, they were caught in the middle of it, and they were killed tragically, and... So it really comes from a lot of different circumstances.

Nancy Zambrano:

And what are some of the unique challenges that come with proving wrongful death?

Chris Gilreath:

Just like in any other personal injury case, you have to be able to prove that when someone else does something harmful, that that conduct was actually what resulted in your loved one's death, and in a case of a motor vehicle crash, that's not so complicated. But for example, in the case of someone who worked in a factory somewhere and there was asbestos in the building and they worked there over a period of 20 years, and then they retire and 10 years goes by, and then they develop a very specific lung cancer called mesothelioma... Well, sometimes it's difficult to be able to make a medical connection between their injury and what leads to their death and the source of where that harm came from, especially if it takes place over time. So that's one of the specific challenges that we run into, and then sometimes you'll have people that have kind of underlying medical conditions, their own just natural health status, they go and see a doctor, and then something happens during a course of medical treatment and they pass away, but it's challenging to determine if what led to their death was something that a doctor did or something that would have naturally occurred anyway. For example, another case involving cancer, were they going to pass away anyway, or was there a misdiagnosis that could have been caught and treated sooner?

Nancy Zambrano:

And when it comes to damages, what are the options for wrongful death?

Chris Gilreath:

In Tennessee, there are two categories of damages. In some circumstances, someone will actually, after they're harmed, they'll actually survive even for say five minutes or five days or five years, there'll be some period of time when they're hurt, but they haven't passed away. So the law allows you to claim any kind of medical bills, any lost wages, any kind of loss of enjoyment of life that you suffer and before you pass away, but then after you pass away, the damages shift to a really kind of a description of who was this person? What did they mean to their family? How do they contribute to society, were they gainfully employed? Do they have special gifts, did they mean special things to people, the law honors all of those contributions that we make and tries to help people value those in court?

Nancy Zambrano:

And in cases like this, for example, why is it so important to have an attorney, an experienced wrongful death attorney?

Chris Gilreath:

First of all, some of the steps leading up to filing a case are very specific. They involve some legal circumstances that are important to take note of, and really an attorney can best help you strategize on what to do with that circumstance. And second of all, not all families get along with each other, and sometimes there's a dispute, whether someone in the family on a case to be brought and someone else in the family does not. What do you do in that circumstance? Sometimes that can have a really detrimental impact on a case, so it's important to hire a lawyer that can help the family navigate that circumstance. And then thirdly, there are lots of different legal claims that are potentially... That you can potentially include in a lawsuit, and so it's important to understand which claims have the best chance of success and which ones don't, based on the evidence.

Nancy Zambrano:

Lots of useful information today. Thank you so much, Chris, for joining us. 

Chris Gilreath:

You're welcome. 

Nancy Zambrano:

That's gonna do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. Again, my guest today was Tennessee attorney Chris Gilreath. Now remember, if you wanna ask Chris your own questions, you can always do so by going to AskTheLawyers.com and clicking the button at the top of the page that says, Ask the Lawyer and that'll take you through the process. Again, my name is Nancy Zambrano for AskTheLawyers.com.

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