In order for an attorney to make his/her case that a wrongful death occurred, he/she has to prove 4 things. It begins with ‘duty’, which states the defendant has a specific duty to follow the law or behave in a certain manner. The next step states that the defendant was negligent in following that duty. They broke the law or behaved in a manner that they shouldn’t have. After this, the attorney must prove the defendant’s behavior caused the death. Once these have been proven, the plaintiff’s attorney must demonstrate money is owed to the family of the deceased. This money is referred to as damages.
Who Can Receive Monetary Compensation for Someone’s Death?
Generally, the family member who files the wrongful death claim is the one who is awarded the damages. In Ohio, only one person is allowed to file the claim. For instance, one of the deceased’s parents may file, but not both. However, both parents may be awarded damages, as the non-filing parent can speak up in court and prove they are also due damages. Others who can file wrongful death suits include the deceased’s surviving spouse, as well as his/her children. In some cases, non-married life partners may as well.
Can Damages Cover Funeral Expenses?
Yes, the awarded damages can cover any and all of the funeral expenses. In cases where the deceased did not have life insurance, and the family paid for the wake. funeral, burial, and other expenses, the defendant may be forced by the court to cover those costs. Receipts for these expenses must be included in the court documents during the hearing.
What About Survival Claims?
A survival claim covers suffering the deceased may have endured prior to their death, and was the direct result of someone’s negligence. For example, if the deceased arrived at the hospital with abdominal pain and the attending physician failed to see signs of appendicitis, then the physician may be found at fault. However, If the appendix burst causing widespread infection and days of agony and ultimately death, their loved on can file a survival claim. If successfully proven, they may receive monetary damages for the survival claim.
Can Damages Include Income and Services?
Income and services are the most common damages awarded in a wrongful death case. Income damages are awarded based on future earnings the decedent would have made throughout the course of their life. The amount of monetary damages awarded depends on their position, education level, expected promotions, as well as their age at the time of their death. Additionally, the plaintiff may receive damages for services the decedent provided to them while they were alive. Examples of services include: yard work, home repairs, automobile repair, accounting, or other service they provided on a regular basis. Since the decedent can no longer provide the services, their loved one has to hire people to handle these services for them. Damages may be awarded to cover the cost of these services.
Will the Damages Include the Loss of My Companion?
It is very difficult to place a price tag on the loss of a loved one. Companionship, nurturing, and care all play a role in a relationship. With that said, the judge may decide the plaintiff is due damages for this part of their loss. No award can bring the person back, but the fund may help the survivor move forward and begin the healing process.
What About Medical Costs?
Yes, damages can be awarded in order to compensate for medical costs. It seems unfair for hospitals to send bills for the care of the deceased, but this does happen, especially when insurance doesn’t cover all of the cost. Any medical bills, both paid and unpaid, can be introduced in court by the plaintiff’s lawyer. If the remainder of the wrongful death case has been proven, the judge may award damages to cover the medical expenses.
If you have any additional questions about wrongful death damages or want to file a claim after unexpectedly losing your loved one, contact me and I’ll Make Them Pay!®