If someone else’s careless or intentional act caused the death of your spouse or close relative, our Ohio wrongful death lawyers can help the personal representative of the estate go after compensation for the legal beneficiaries.
What We Have to Prove in Ohio Wrongful Death Cases
Before the law will hold someone responsible for another person’s wrongful death, there must be evidence that shows the defendant caused the death through a wrongful act. For example, if there was a fatal car accident, the family of the deceased cannot sue all of the drivers and passengers involved in the wreck. The family can only sue the person or entities whose intentional or careless act caused the death of their loved one.
Per Ohio Revised Code 2125, another requirement is that the decedent must have had a right to sue the at-fault person if the deceased had survived their injuries. Let’s say that a driver ran a red light and crashed into another car, killing the passenger. If the passenger had lived, they would have been able to sue the at-fault driver for their injuries. Their legal beneficiaries thus have the right to go after the at-fault driver for their losses.
The personal representative can also sue the perpetrator if the death was the result of murder, aggravated murder, or manslaughter. The fact that the death happened as the result of a crime does not bar the family from seeking wrongful death damages.
For a free legal consultation with a personal injury lawyer serving Ohio, call (614) 538-1116
Parties That Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Ohio
The court will appoint an individual to serve as the personal representative of the decedent. Only this person can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The personal representative is allowed to enter into a settlement of the wrongful death claim with the responsible party before or after filing a wrongful death lawsuit. The court must approve the settlement and the distribution of the proceeds.
Ohio Wrongful Death Attorney (614) 538-1116
Parties That Can Collect Damages for a Wrongful Death
Ohio law creates a rebuttable presumption that the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the decedent all suffered damages because of the wrongful death. The surviving siblings of the decedent are not automatically assumed to have sustained harm by the death.
The personal representative can also request a separate award of damages for the reasonable cost of the funeral and burial. The judge or jury will identify the amount awarded for this purpose. If someone has already paid these expenses, the court will distribute the amount directly to that person. If these bills are not yet paid, the court will direct the personal representative to pay the costs with the funds awarded for that purpose.
Wrongful Death Damages
If the facts support the claim, the judge or jury can award the legal beneficiaries these damages:
- Loss of earnings, which represents the amount that the decedent likely would have earned over the course of their working life but for the wrongful death.
- Loss of the decedent’s services, which can include things that did not produce income but provided a benefit to the household, like doing yard work or housework.
- Loss of the potential inheritance to people who were the heirs of the decedent when they
- The mental anguish of the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased because of the untimely death.
- Loss of the society with the decedent; in essence, what the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased no longer get to experience because the decedent is now gone. This category can include things like the companionship, protection, attention, assistance, education, instruction, guidance, training, and counsel of the deceased.
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Distribution of the Award or Settlement Proceeds
The rules are the same, whether the wrongful death case goes to trial and the judge or jury decide the matter or the personal representative reaches a settlement with the defendant. After dealing with the funeral and burial costs, the court will determine how much each beneficiary receives.
Survivors with an equal degree of relationship to the deceased usually receive roughly the same amount, but the court can adjust the shares to make things equitable. For example, let’s say that a wrongful act took the life of someone who left no surviving spouse or parents, but had three living children. The three children could receive equal shares of the wrongful death award unless the court makes an adjustment.
Reasons for equitable adjustment can include the injury and loss to each beneficiary individually, as well as the age and condition of the beneficiaries. For example, a disabled child might have a greater financial need than one who just signed a multi-million-dollar contract with the NBA.
If a surviving spouse remarries before the wrongful death case settles or receives a verdict, the surviving spouse can still receive some proceeds, but the court might reduce the spouse’s share.
Wrongful Death Cases Our Team Handles
Our team handles wrongful death cases stemming from all the following types of accidents:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Bus accidents
- Dog bites
- Pedestrian accidents
- Burn injuries
- Bicycle accidents
Deadline to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Ohio
Several factors can impact the amount of time you have to bring an action seeking money damages for the loss of a close loved one. In general, the statute of limitations is two years. You should talk with us right away so that you do not miss the deadline.
We understand that you and your family have suffered a terrible loss. We will treat you with dignity and respect. Call Bressman Law today at (614) 538-1116 for your free consultation.