Under Tennessee law, the spouse of the decedent usually has the right to file and control a wrongful death lawsuit. However, a spouse can lose the right to file and control the wrongful death suit if he or she has abandons or becomes "willfully withdrawn" from the decedent for a period of two years.
If this situation exists, the courts will presume that the surviving spouse has forfeited his or her rights to file and control the wrongful death suit and that right will go to others.
If a dispute about this occurs, the surviving spouse will have the right to be heard in court and argue that he or she is the appropriate person to file and control the lawsuit. A determination against the spouse can also affect his or her right to receive any of the proceeds of the wrongful death lawsuit itself.
If your spouse has died and there is a dispute about whether you have a right to file and control the case you need the help of an experienced Tennessee wrongful death lawyer to help you. Likewise, if your deceased parent’s spouse is trying to take control of a wrongful death lawsuit and he or she has not been a part of your parent’s life in recent years you too need an experienced lawyer to help you. Prompt action is required to protect your rights, so act quickly.