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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Do You Need to Know How to File a Lawsuit for Wrongful Death in Ohio?

While no one intends to be in an accident, it doesn't change the fact that they happen, and the consequences associated with them can be devastating for those involved. Some victims may survive, but they will often never have the same quality of life again.


However, not all of them are on that side of the fence. Sadly, many of those who suffer injuries will pass away, leaving devastated family members and other loved ones.


Like other states, Ohio has laws that govern how a wrongful death suit works, and the intent below is to provide all the information needed for a successful filing where possible.


How Does a Wrongful Death Claim Work in Ohio?

How Does a Wrongful Death Claim Work in Ohio?


It all stems from the state's definition of "wrongful death," which speaks to a situation where there is neglect, default, or a wrongful act on the part of someone that would've allowed a deceased person to file a personal injury claim had they survived.


In essence, it is still a personal injury matter, but the victim is no longer able to seek compensation on their own. Therefore, a personal representative can be the stand-in to file the claim on their behalf.


As is the case with other kinds of personal injury matters, whatever liability the defendant has is expressed in the form of damages, which speak to the financial compensation that must be paid to the surviving loved ones.


Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit on Behalf of the Deceased?


The subset of persons allowed to act after the victim's death will defer by state. Ohio, for example, uses the concept of an executor, which is a personal representative of the victim's estate. This is who must file any wrongful death claims.


It is not always straightforward to name this person. Where a will was written before the death occurred, a personal representative would most likely have been named. In cases where there is no such document, the onus is placed on the court to appoint someone to serve in this capacity.


Typical Wrongful Act Types


Motor Vehicle Accidents

The leading cause of wrongful death incidents in Ohio happens to be accidents that involve vehicles and pedestrians. Unfortunately, drivers will often act recklessly, which leads to a crash that is fatal to the victim. The negligent party can then be held liable for the damages in the form of a wrongful death case.


Product Liability

Companies that manufacture, design, or distribute products will sometimes end up selling defective items that can lead to serious injury or even death. Such companies can be held liable for damages during an Ohio wrongful death claim.


Premises Liability

A property owner or manager must ensure that their premises are safe. Unfortunately, this responsibility is not always carried out. Some people not only fail to keep the properties safe, but they also fail to warn others about dangerous conditions. This will sometimes lead to death, which means that the negligent party will need to be held responsible.


Medical Malpractice

While this occurrence may not be at the same level as car accidents, it is another leading cause of wrongful death. Doctors or other healthcare professionals fail to care for their patients adequately, which leads to an untimely passing. Surgical errors, traumatic brain injuries, medication errors, etc., can all result in such a situation.


Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse

Elderly nursing home residents sometimes die because of neglect or abuse. When this happens, surviving family members can then attempt to recover compensation. The negligent actions may come from other residents, visitors, staff, etc.


Economic and Non-economic Damages Awarded in an Ohio Wrongful Death Claim


Wrongful death cases can attract damages under economic and non-economic categories.


Economic damages can be assigned an accurate dollar value, thanks to the presence of documentation, receipts, etc. This makes estimations a lot more straightforward.


Non-economic damages, on the other hand, fall under the quality of life umbrella, which means that they are a little more difficult to value. Thankfully, expert attorneys can assign appropriate values.


Typical economic damages include:

  • Funeral and burial costs

  • Lost income of the deceased

  • Loss of future inheritance

  • Loss of the deceased's benefits

  • Medical expenses incurred before death


On the non-economic side of the fence, some of the damages are:

  • Loss of consortium

  • Pain and suffering

  • Loss of companionship, counsel, or guidance

  • Loss of services provided by the deceased


There is also a category known as punitive damages that are sometimes awarded. These are not necessarily intended as just compensation. The idea is to punish the defendant in cases where gross negligence or intent to harm is displayed.


Do Wrongful Death Lawsuits Have a Statute of Limitations?


As is the case with other states, there is a statute of limitations, which outlines how long Ohio law allows the victim to delay the filing process. Missing the deadline means that a successful wrongful death claim is unlikely, and that the chance to initiate the process may be lost forever.


The window allowed in this state is two years. Be that as it may, there are cases in which exceptions can apply. For example, the representative could have a debilitating condition that renders them unable to file. In this case, "tolling" laws would apply, which means that compensation could be pursued even after the normal time limit has passed.


Additionally, an exception may also be granted in a situation where the surviving family members were not aware that there was a potential lawsuit. Examples of this include cases where the evidence that the accident caused the death comes to light years after the occurrence.


Remember that the exceptions are there for extenuating circumstances, which means the delays are unavoidable. Therefore, all other persons who wish to file are encouraged to seek the counsel of an expert attorney and file as quickly as possible. They're able to help explain how to file a lawsuit for a dog bite in Ohio as well.


How Can an Attorney Prove That the Defendant's Actions Constitute a Valid Claim?


1. Duty of Care

The defendant was obligated to ensure that a reasonable level of care was taken, which would prevent any kind of injury or harm. Take a nursing home, for example. If residents are on medication, the staff is responsible for ensuring it is administered at the correct time at the recommended dosage.


2. Breach of Duty

Considering the duty of care that would have been established in the first point, the defendant's actions would constitute a failure to provide it. For example, a driver's duty of care would be to exercise caution on the roadways and obey traffic laws, so pedestrians are kept safe. Choosing to drive under the influence of alcohol would be a breach of this duty.


3. Causation

Experienced wrongful death attorneys will then move to establish the causation element, which is also essential in any successful claim. Remember that an accusation is being made, which needs to be substantiated in court.


Now, the lawyer is required to show where the death of the victim is the direct result of the negligence that the defendant displayed in not exercising the expected duty of care. They are also able to help with how to file a lawsuit for workers compensation in Ohio.


Damages

Damages would be the last piece of the puzzle. This is where the attorney needs to demonstrate that the victim and other family members suffered losses because of the actions or inaction of the party responsible for the death.


Considerations for Parental Abandonment and Compensation


Sometimes the personal representative may be aware of a parent who is after compensation for the wrongful death of a child after having committed the act of abandonment. In such cases, the representative can request that the court deny any monetary damages to the said parent.


The court will have a hearing to address the abandonment matter, during which evidence will be presented to support the claim. Should the information be convincing, an order will be issued to grant the motion.


Note that for these legal proceedings, parental abandonment means that a minor's parent did any of the following without good justification:


  • Had no communication with the child

  • Provided no care

  • Neglected to pay either administratively required or court-ordered funds to support or maintain the minor for at least a year before the death occurred


Why Is an Ohio Wrongful Death Lawyer Needed?

Why Is an Ohio Wrongful Death Lawyer Needed?


There is a lot at risk in an Ohio wrongful death lawsuit, and a big part of that is the sheer amount of complexity and challenges involved. The right wrongful death lawyer in Cincinnati OH can ease the burden by assisting in the following ways:


  1. Completing a thorough investigation of the occurrences that led to the incident

  2. Ensuring loved ones are kept up to date on legal happenings

  3. Negotiating with the at-fault party's insurance company for maximum compensation

  4. Representing the victim's representative in court if negotiations fall through

  5. Building a solid case with evidence such as medical records and imagery from the incident scene


Schedule a Free Consultation with a Tried and Tested Ohio Wrongful Death Attorney Today!


It's hard enough to deal with the passing of your loved one, so stacking on the legal process to get compensation from a negligent party just makes matters even worse. Thankfully, the experts at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys are willing to go to war for you! Schedule a free consultation today with a passionate wrongful death lawyer!

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