Key Wrongful Death Questions
Key Wrongful Death Questions
Many people have questions about a potential wrongful death suit. Before contacting a wrongful death attorney such as myself, to determine if a suit can be brought against someone for the death of a loved one, I encourage you to 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 Steps Must be Taken When Filing for Wrongful Death Damages in Cleveland, Ohio?
Step 1- Hire an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney
As wrongful death attorney with more than 40 years of experience, I can help you prove liability and causation and will work to obtain for you as much monetary compensation as Ohio law allows. This may include compensation for medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, loss of income and support, and loss of companionship and guidance. Do not trust just anyone to deliver the best wrongful death settlement possible. I am the wrongful death lawyer you can always trust to Make Them Pay!®
Step 2- Investigations into Wrongful Death Lawsuits
During the investigation of wrongful death cases, the law firm managing your case will gather evidence, which may include medical records, witness statements, and expert opinions. Your attorney will also review any applicable laws and regulations to determine if the responsible party violated any legal duty of care.
Once the investigation is complete, your attorney will file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the decedent’s estate and surviving family members. The lawsuit will seek compensation for the losses suffered by the surviving family members, including medical and funeral expenses, loss of income and support, loss of companionship and possible punitive damages.
Step 3- Filing for Wrongful Death Damages
Collection of all pertinent documentation: This includes all documents and paperwork related to your loved one’s illness or injury, the accident, or circumstances that led to their unexpected death.
File the required paperwork: Your attorney can provide you with the appropriate forms and help you complete the paperwork to begin the claim. Forms you may need in Ohio include; the Complaint, Summons, and a written request to the court to appoint a personal representative.
Proceed with the lawsuit: After filing the required paperwork, the lawsuit will proceed. The process may include discovery, mediation, and ultimately a trial if a settlement cannot be reached.
Step 4- Negotiation or Trial
Wrongful death cases in Ohio may be settled through negotiation or by going to trial. If the parties involved in the lawsuit cannot reach a settlement agreement, the case may proceed to trial. Going to trial may be an option if the plaintiff wishes to pursue a higher award than what may be offered in a settlement, although it also carries the risk of receiving a lower award or no award at all. If a settlement agreement is reached, the repayment may be structured and distributed over a period of time.
What is the Court’s Process in Wrongful Death Cases?
The primary steps to filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Ohio involve several legal and procedural requirements.
Identify the personal representative of the decedent: A wrongful death lawsuit in Ohio must be brought by the personal representative of the deceased person. This person is typically named in the decedent’s will or appointed by the probate court.
Open an estate in probate court: The family must open an estate in probate court, which is the court that handles the distribution of assets of the deceased. The proceeds from the estate will ultimately benefit the surviving spouse, children, and/or parents of the decedent.
File the wrongful death lawsuit: The personal representative of the decedent must file the wrongful death lawsuit in the county where the death occurred, or where the defendant resided. The lawsuit must also include specific information about the deceased, the defendant, and the circumstances of the death.
Proving liability and damages: In a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s wrongful act, neglect, or default was the proximate cause of the deceased’s death. The plaintiff must also prove the amount of damages sustained by the surviving family members, which may include medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of companionship, and loss of support.
Distribution of damages: If the plaintiff is successful in the wrongful death lawsuit, the damages awarded will be distributed among the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased according to Ohio law.
It is important to note that the above steps are subject to change, and it is always best to consult with a qualified attorney to ensure compliance with current Ohio laws and regulations.
What Must be Proven in a Wrongful Death Case in Ohio?
Duty of Care
“Duty of care” refers to the legal obligation a person or entity has to others to act with reasonable care and caution to avoid causing harm. In a wrongful death case, the defendant may have had a duty of care to the deceased, such as a duty to maintain equipment, provide safe working conditions, or follow traffic rules.
Breach of Duty
Breach of duty refers to a situation where the defendant failed to act with reasonable care, skill, or caution in a manner that a prudent person would have acted in similar circumstances. Examples of negligence included: medical malpractice, product liability, workplace accidents, and car accidents. In such cases, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant’s conduct fell below the standard of care expected in that situation, and that the breach of duty led to the death of the victim. If the plaintiff can establish a breach of duty, the defendant may be held liable for damages in a wrongful death case.
Causation refers to the link between the defendant’s breach of duty and the death of the victim. To prove causation in a wrongful death case, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant’s wrongful conduct was a substantial factor in causing the victim’s death. This requires showing that the victim would not have died had it not been for the wrongful conduct of the defendant.
There are two types of damages that may be awarded in a wrongful death case: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are tangible losses that can be quantified, such as medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and loss of income and benefits that the deceased would have provided to their family had they lived. Non-economic damages are intangible losses that are more difficult to quantify, such as loss of companionship, care, and consortium.
Compensatory damages may be awarded in a wrongful death claim and may include damages for loss of support from the expected earning capacity of the deceased, loss of services of the deceased, and loss of society of the deceased, including loss of companionship, consortium, care, and guidance. The amount of damages awarded in a wrongful death case varies depending on the circumstances of the case, and the losses suffered by the surviving family members.
It is important to seek the counsel of experienced attorneys who can help prove liability and causation in a wrongful death claim, and pursue maximum compensation for the losses suffered by the victim’s surviving family.
Can Anyone File a Wrongful Death Claim?
No, not just anyone can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Ohio. Only the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate is permitted to file a wrongful death case in Ohio. If the deceased had a will and an executor was appointed, that person would be able to file a wrongful death claim after the deceased’s estate has been opened in probate court. If the deceased did not have a will, it would be up to the court to appoint a personal representative.
The personal representative brings the action for the benefit of the person’s surviving spouse, children, and parents. The damages awarded in the wrongful death lawsuit are distributed among the surviving spouse, children, and parents according to Ohio law. I have worked for over 40 years as a wrongful death lawyer in Ohio, and I will use that experience to ensure you are justly compensation .
How Much Is My Loved One’s Life Worth?
The value of a loved one’s life in a wrongful death case cannot be easily determined as it depends on several factors, including the extent of the loss that occurred. Therefore, there is no set amount for how much a loved one’s life is worth in an Ohio wrongful death claim.
My Loved One Suffered Before They Died. Can This Impact the Amount of Awarded Damages?
Yes, suffering prior to death can play a role in the damages awarded in Ohio wrongful death claims. For example, suffering prior to death due to injuries sustained in an accident may be a factor in how much is awarded to surviving family members.
Can Bystanders Who Witnessed the Accident Join the Claim?
It is possible for bystanders who witness the accident in a wrongful death lawsuit to be part of the suit. however, their involvement would depend on their relationship to the deceased and the specific circumstances of the case.
Accident bystanders would need to have a legal relationship with the deceased that allows them to bring forth a wrongful death claim. The wrongful death statute in Ohio broadly defines wrongful death and specifies who can sue and what may be awarded.
Is There a Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Suits in Ohio?
Yes, there is a statute of limitations for a wrongful death case in Ohio. The statute of limitations sets a time frame for how long a personal representative has to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Ohio, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years from the date the loved one has died, or from when the wrongdoing was discovered.
It is always a good idea to begin legal proceedings as soon as possible, even though the statute allows up to two years to file a claim. Failing to file a wrongful death claim within the statute of limitations period may result in a claim dismissal. If this occurs, the plaintiff will be unable to recover damages for their devastating loss. As your wrongful death attorney, I will make sure all timelines are amply met, and I’ll Will Make Them Pay!®
It is important to note that a wrongful death lawsuit is classified as a civil action, not a criminal one, under Ohio law. If it were a criminal case, the defendant could face jail time, fines, and other penalties. However, in a civil wrongful death case, the plaintiff seeks monetary damages for their loss.