When a person's death can be attributed to another party's recklessness or negligence, that is considered a wrongful death. It may result from medical malpractice, product defect, or motor vehicle accident – to name a few. Surviving family members bringing a claim must establish fault to seek compensation for damages, such as funeral expenses, lost income, and mental anguish. Choosing an experienced wrongful death attorney for assistance in seeking justice is essential. They can guide surviving family members through the legal process with confidence.
Understanding the Definition of a Wrongful Death
As defined by Ohio Revised Code § 2125.01, a wrongful death occurs when a person's death is caused by someone else's intentional act or negligence. This means that if the same circumstances had resulted in injury rather than death, the injured party could have sued for damages.
To seek justice for this kind of tragedy and obtain a sense of closure, surviving family members may bring a civil lawsuit in the form of a wrongful death claim against the responsible party.
Situations That May Give Rise to a Wrongful Death
As noted above, a death is wrongful if caused by the intentional acts, negligence, or default of another person or entity.
Several situations may provide grounds for a claim.
These include the following:
- Truck accidents: Large commercial trucks are particularly dangerous because of their size and weight. Collisions with them can cause passenger vehicle occupants to suffer fatal injuries.
- Car accidents: If a driver is negligent, their actions can lead to a crash resulting in death.
- Motorcycle accidents: Many crashes involving motorcyclists can result in death because of the lack of structural protections for riders.
- Medical malpractice: Doctors or other medical professionals who provide care below the accepted standard can do or fail to do something that causes a patient’s death.
- Defective products: When a product is poorly made or designed or lacks proper warnings, the person using it can be fatally injured.
- Unsafe premises: If a property owner fails to recognize and address dangers on the premises, visitors can suffer accidents like slips and falls that lead to death.
- Intentional acts: Criminal conduct, such as an assault, can result in the death of a person.
What Needs to Be Established in a Wrongful Death Case?
Generally, when bringing a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must prove four key elements of negligence.
Firstly, they must show that the defendant owed the deceased a duty of care. For instance, drivers are supposed to follow posted speed limits and other traffic laws.
Secondly, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the duty of care was breached. For example, if a driver was speeding or driving recklessly.
Thirdly, the plaintiff must prove that the breach caused an accident that caused harm or death to the decedent.
Lastly, the plaintiff must establish that they suffered damages, whether out-of-pocket medical and funeral costs for the family or compensation for loss of income from the deceased's passing.
To establish these points, the plaintiff must present evidence. Evidence can take various forms, such as police reports or medical records documenting treatments received by the individual before their passing.
Damages That Can Be Recovered
Wrongful deaths are emotionally painful for the survivors and can take a financial toll.
In Ohio, surviving family and personal representatives have two years from the date of the death to seek damages. Depending on the case, families can pursue various forms of compensation ranging from economic losses, such as loss of income or funeral and burial expenses, to non-economic ones, like mental anguish and loss of care and companionship.
Choosing an Attorney to Help with Your Case
When you're navigating a wrongful death claim, it's important to enlist help from an experienced attorney. Look for a lawyer who focuses on complex personal injury cases and can fight for justice for you and your loved one. Because some matters may be resolved through negotiations or litigation, finding someone familiar with both is crucial.To schedule a consultation with one of our Columbus attorneys, please contact Rourke and Blumenthal LLC at (614) 321-3212.