Oklahoma Wrongful Death Laws

The Oklahoma Wrongful Death Statute can be found in 12 Okl. St. § 1053.  Pursuant to the Act, when the death of one is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another, the personal representative of the former may maintain an action against the latter or his or her personal representative if he or she is also deceased, if the former might have maintained an action had he or she lived against the latter or his or her representative for an injury for the same act or omission. The action must be commenced within two years.

The damages recoverable in actions for wrongful death shall include the following:

  • Medical and burial expenses, which shall be distributed to the person or governmental agency as defined in Section 5051.1 of Title 63 of the Oklahoma Statutes who paid these expenses, or to the decedent’s estate if paid by the estate.
  • The loss of consortium and the grief of the surviving spouse, which shall be distributed to the surviving spouse.
  • The mental pain and anguish suffered by the decedent, which shall be distributed to the surviving spouse and children, if any, or next of kin in the same proportion as personal property of the decedent.

The pecuniary loss to the survivors based upon properly admissible evidence with regard thereto including, but not limited to, the age, occupation, earning capacity, health habits, and probable duration of the decedent’s life, which must inure to the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse and children, if any, or next of kin, and shall be distributed to them according to their pecuniary loss.

The grief and loss of companionship of the children and parents of the decedent shall be distributed to them according to their grief and loss of companionship.  In proper cases, as provided by Section 9.1 of Title 23 of the Oklahoma Statutes, punitive or exemplary damages may also be recovered against the person proximately causing the wrongful death or the person’s representative if such person is deceased.  Such damages, if recovered, shall be distributed to the surviving spouse and children, if any, or next of kin in the same proportion as personal property of the decedent.

Where the recovery is to be distributed according to a person’s pecuniary loss or loss of companionship, the judge shall determine the proper division.  The above-mentioned distributions shall be made after the payment of legal expenses and costs of the action.

The provisions of this section shall also be available for the death of an unborn child as defined in Section 1-730 of Title 63 of the Oklahoma Statutes.  The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to:

a. acts which cause the death of an unborn child if those acts were committed during a legal abortion to which the pregnant woman consented, or

b. acts which are committed pursuant to the usual and customary standards of medical practice during diagnostic testing or therapeutic treatment.

Under no circumstances shall the mother of the unborn child be found liable for causing the death of the unborn child unless the mother has committed a crime that caused the death of the unborn child[i].

Further, if any person having a claim against the state or a political subdivision within the scope of Section 151 et seq. of this title shall present a claim to the state or political subdivision for any appropriate relief including the award of money damages[ii].

[i] 12 Okl. St. § 1053

[ii] 51 Okl. St. § 156


Inside Oklahoma Wrongful Death Laws