Many people have questions about a potential wrongful death suit. Before contacting an attorney to determine if a suit can be brought against someone for the death of a loved one, review the following questions. These questions address the process for filing a wrongful death claim and provide in-depth information about the facts for a successful wrongful death suit..
What Is the Court’s Process in a Wrongful Death Suit?
Unlike other lawsuits, wrongful death cases are tried before a judge, and a jury is not involved. The plaintiff’s attorney must prove to the judge that the defendant is the person who caused the death of their loved one. There are four primary steps to this process, beginning with duty, then proceeding to breach of duty, causation, and then finally, damages. If the attorney can prove all four, then monetary damages may be awarded.
Can Anyone File a Wrongful Death Suit?
In the state of Ohio, only immediate family members can file a wrongful death suit. These include the parents, spouse, and children of the deceased. Additionally, an unmarried life partner or another dependent may be able to file. It depends on whether or not the plaintiff and their attorney can prove these additional individuals, even if not clearly and obviously supported by the deceased, were impacted by their death. With that said, although only one person can file the case, additional family members can request monetary damages.
How Much Is My Loved One’s Life Worth? They Had Years Ahead of Them.
When the plaintiff’s attorney makes their case against the defendant, they will mention these very things. How much your loved one’s life was worth depends on the income they brought in at the time of their death, as well as how much they may have made in the future. For example, if the attorney can prove that the deceased would have received quite a few business promotions in their lifetime, then this will be taken into consideration. Other factors include the overall potential of the deceased, including any activities that they enjoyed and their overall impact on the community.
My Loved One Suffered Before They Died. Does That Play a Role When Damages Are Awarded?
The short answer here is yes. For example, if your loved one was badly injured in an automobile accident and had to have several surgeries in an effort to save them, then their suffering will be a factor in any damages that are awarded. You, the spouse, parent, or child of that loved one had to go through quite a bit of pain and suffering during that time, particularly if you were unsure if your loved one would pull through. You may be compensated for this pain and suffering, as long as your attorney can prove it.
What About Bystanders Who Witnessed the Accident? Can They Join the Claim?
It all depends on the role of those bystanders in the deceased’s life. If they didn’t know the deceased and simply witnessed the accident, then they may not have any recourse. On the other hand, if they were closely related to the deceased and came upon or witnessed the accident right at the moment that their loved one died, then they can join in the suit after it has been filed. Or if they are directly related to the deceased, they can file the suit themselves with the help of an attorney. It all depends on the relationship that they had with the deceased.
Is There a Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Suits in Ohio?
Yes, the state of Ohio has placed a two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death suits. If you attempt to file a wrongful death case after the two years have passed, then the case will be dismissed outright. The two-year period is in place to allow people to grieve and heal after the death of their loved ones before filing a claim. It also allows the plaintiff’s attorneys the time needed to research and prove the case.
Can I Receive Compensation for the Death of My Loved One?
In many cases, compensation is awarded for the future earning potential of the deceased, as well as any pain and suffering on the behalf of the plaintiff. However, in some cases, the death itself can be compensated. It all depends on the specific case and its circumstances. Every wrongful death case is different.
If you have lost a loved one and believe that someone else was at fault, contact me right now, and I’ll Make Them Pay!®