Wrongful Death Explained
Due to the negligence or misconduct of another, a person can get seriously injured. In the worst-case scenario, it leads to the person’s death. A wrongful death claim is a civil claim that is distinct from criminal charges that could also be filed against the wrongdoer. To initiate a wrongful death claim, the estate representative with probate court authority pursues a claim against the wrongdoer (the negligent party) to obtain the financial compensation that is due the estate. In Ohio, there is a statute that dictates who are and who are not the beneficiaries of such claims. Typically, the spouse, children, and parents are potential beneficiaries. Other next of kin (including siblings) may also be beneficiaries. Unfortunately, neither step-children or unwed significant others are able to pursue claims under Ohio’s statute. Likewise, a parent who has abandoned his/her child is also precluded from asserting a claim.
What Counts as Wrongful Death?
There are many ways that a wrongful death can happen. Often it occurs because of accidents or errors in judgment. Here are some of the most common causes of wrongful death:
- Vehicle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Workplace accidents
- Manufacturing defects
- Criminal assault
The deceased’s estate representative will be responsible for filing the lawsuit along with an attorney that has experience with these claims. If there is no estate representative, then an estate must be opened. The lawyer handling the wrongful death claim can assist with that process. Once the estate is opened, and the attorney is hired to pursue the wrongful death claim, the estate representative and the attorney will become the representatives to pursue the claim against the negligent party. In these cases, it must be proven that the deceased’s death was caused by the wrongdoer’s negligent (or intentional) conduct. If negligence or fault can be proven, a recovery of compensation can be made for both economic and non-economic damages.
How is a Wrongful Death Claim Calculated?
The calculation of the claim will depend on several factors. The most obvious ones include:
- Conscious pain & suffering by the deceased
- Medical and funeral expenses
- Lost income and support
- Potential loss of inheritance
- Loss of society, including loss of companionship, consortium, care, assistance, attention, protection, advice, guidance, , counsel, instruction, training, and education.
- Lost services and other household needs
- Out of pocket expenses.
RELATED ARTICLE: What Damages Are Available in Ohio Wrongful Death Claims?
Funeral bills and medical bills. Loss of income, while it can be calculated often requires the involvement of a vocational expert and an economist. The other categories listed above are regarded as “non-economic damages”, and they don’t have a simple fixed dollar value. But because wrongful death damages in Ohio cannot be capped, these sums may multiply greatly depending on the loss experienced by the family members due to the loss of a loved one. It is said that the money cannot bring back a mom or dad, or a son or daughter, but it can help make up for the things that mom, dad, son or daughter would otherwise have been able to do. For instance, the guidance and protection a child loses by the death of a father, can be compensated for by being able to send a child to a Boy Scout camp, or to add a security system to a home. Or the services of a nanny can help to make up for the loss of a mom.
Proving Wrongful Death
Proving a wrongful death claim can a tedious and complex process. Both parties will examine the unique aspects of the case, and work first of all to prove legal responsibility for the loss (or to dispute the negligence by the defense). If negligence can be proven, then much effort must be spent on proving the various elements of damages that apply. As seen above, this will vary from case to case. As such, these cases may take months or years before they settle.
Aside from physical evidence, witness testimony is also necessary to help support the claim. This will involve testimony from both lay witnesses and hired experts. In this way, both sides will be better able to ascertain the proper amount that should be paid.
In the best-case scenario, the two parties agree to settle the lawsuit before it reaches court. Both parties agree to no longer pursue litigation, and the other party will pay the estate of the deceased. The probate court then decides how the funds are allocated among the various eligible family members.
If the case cannot be resolved without filing a lawsuit, it will be up to the courts (usually a jury) to decide the proper amount to be paid based upon evidence presented by both parties.
Choose Trusted Lawyers to Fight for You
When it comes to wrongful death cases, having a skilled and experienced lawyer is necessary. They will be able to negotiate with the other party, gather evidence, and prosecute your case in court. They will fight for your rights, and provide you with sound legal advice at all stages of the case.
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Arthur Law Firm Is Here For You
At Arthur Law Firm Co., LPA, we understand how difficult and distressing it is to lose a loved one due to the wrongful death of a family member. Our team of lawyers is here to help you throughout this difficult process. When you work with Arthur Law, we do the heavy lifting, allowing your family to prioritize healing while pursuing justice for your loved one.
If you believe you have a case for a wrongful death lawsuit or any other legal matters, contact us today.