There are few things more difficult than dealing with the untimely death of a beloved family member. When that death was caused wrongfully due to the negligent, reckless, or careless actions of another, however, the emotional toll imposed is all the greater. While the death of a close relative or spouse can require you to think about a multitude of things in the time soon after their passing, a lawsuit is very rarely on the top of that list. While nothing can ever fully make up for a tragic loss, a successful legal claim can at least lessen your financial burdens during a time when more worries are the last thing you need.
What is an Ohio Wrongful Death Claim?
Under Ohio Revised Code § 2125.01, one can bring a claim for wrongful death where a death was caused by “a wrongful act, neglect, or default which would have entitled the party injured to maintain an action to recover damages if death had not ensued.” Put more plainly, if your loved one would have had a legal claim against another party for personal injuries if that person’s act had not resulted in a death, then you, as the deceased’s kin, may bring a claim for wrongful death based on the same occurrence. While there is no “typical” claim for wrongful death, the following represent examples of some of the more common causes:
- Car accidents;
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Drunk driving wrecks;
- Truck/18-Wheeler accidents;
- Bicycle accidents;
- Pedestrian crossing accidents;
- Workplace death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Ohio?
Only what the law calls “personal representatives” of the estate of the deceased are permitted to bring a claim for wrongful death. While this is so, however, that representative’s claim may seek to obtain damages for the estate itself or for members of the deceased’s family. Those family members who may be able to receive compensation from a wrongful death claim include any surviving child of the deceased, the deceased’s surviving spouse, and the deceased’s surviving parents.
What is Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Claim in Ohio?
Amounts recovered from wrongful death claims significantly vary depending on the circumstances of each case. However, recovery for a successful claim of wrongful death will primarily allow the plaintiff to recover compensatory damages; economic and non-economic alike. Compensatory damages seek to compensate an individual for their loss, with economic damages contemplating actual financial losses and non-economic damages contemplating those intangible losses, such as pain and suffering and others.
Economic damages can help the recipient cover funeral expenses, medical bills incurred prior to the death of the deceased, lost expected income, loss of services, and any loss of prospective inheritance. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, include fewer tangible benefits a loved one confers; including mental anguish and loss of companionship.
Just as important as what you will recover is the issue of how you will be able to recover. One of the unique aspects of wrongful death litigation is the procedures parties must follow to attain recovery. While the underlying wrongful death case is not litigated in probate court, any settlement, allocation, and distribution must be approved by the probate court. For example, any attempt at settlement or any plan to apportion the proceeds requires a separate hearing and approval by the court. These processes are complicated and require an experienced attorney to be successfully navigated. Make sure you choose a lawyer who will provide you with the best chance at recovering for your loss.
To discuss your family’s potential wrongful death claim, call the law firm of Brian G. Miller Co., L.P.A. at 614-221-4035 to speak with a trusted, respected, and experienced Columbus wrongful death attorney.