For the family of a loved one whose life was tragically cut short by a preventable accident, the grief from loss can seem unbearable. If the loved one died as a result of the negligent actions of another driver, there are legal remedies that may not bring them back, but can provide a measure of comfort and closure to the surviving family members.
In a wrongful death claim, loved ones of the deceased may pursue financial compensation for the wrong committed by another that resulted in their death. The purpose of wrongful death suits is to provide surviving family with financial means to help with such damages as funeral expenses, loss of income, or loss of companionship or the enjoyment of life.
As the standard of proof for establishing fault is much higher in a criminal case, wrongful death cases are most often pursued in civil court, where the victim’s estate will receive a financial award as compensation for loss.
How does Ohio law define wrongful death?
Under Ohio law, a wrongful death is that which has been caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default of another which would have entitled the deceased to pursue a personal injury lawsuit had they survived. In this sense, it is the family who pursues justice on behalf of their deceased loved one.
What is the process for filing a wrongful death claim?
In a wrongful death claim, it is the personal representative or executor of the estate of the deceased who will bring the lawsuit. There are several elements that must be present in order for the suit to go forward:
- the death of a person
- the negligence or intent to do harm of another as the cause
- the financial injury to the surviving family that the death has caused
- the appointment of a personal representative for the estate of the deceased
What damages can the plaintiff claim?
In Ohio, the family can seek damages for several losses in a wrongful death suit:
- loss of financial support in the absence of the deceased earning capacity
- loss of services, companionship, care, advice or guidance
- loss of prospective inheritance to spouse or children
- mental anguish
Awards may go to the surviving spouse and children, and extended family may also receive compensation with demonstrable proof of loss. The statute of limitations to file a claim in Ohio is two years.
Having the assistance of compassionate legal guidance to help grieving families not only seek financial compensation for loss, but also pursue prompt coverage from insurance companies, is essential to finding closure for all.