Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Ohio? March 22, 2024.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Ohio?

When a fatal injury is caused by someone else’s carelessness or a wrongful act, the person at fault can be held accountable. To get justice for your loved one, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Continue reading to learn about who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Ohio.

What Are the Leading Causes of Wrongful Deaths?

For the most part, any act of negligence or recklessness that caused death could constitute a wrongful death lawsuit. These claims can be filed regardless of whether the fatal injury was intentional or unintentional.

Unfortunately, certain incidents commonly lead to legal action for wrongful death. These include medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, defective products, and criminal activity. Keep in mind that this is not the full list of the leading causes of wrongful death lawsuits.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice refers to when a medical professional does not act reasonably carefully, which results in injuries or death. Even if the doctor or nurse did not intend to harm their patient, they can still be held accountable.
Common instances that lead to wrongful death include:

  1. Anesthesia errors
  2. Surgical errors
  3. Misdiagnosis
  4. Emergency room errors

Sadly, many of these deaths could have been prevented with proper care and monitoring. It is estimated that around 250,000-400,000 Americans die each year from medical errors, but the true number is unknown. This is from medical professionals not reporting errors, so they don't have to face the repercussions. Also, many families do not know that they can sue the doctor or facility for their loved ones’ death. But, medical malpractice can be tricky. That’s why we encourage families to work with an attorney to prove that the doctor did not meet the standard of care.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

The most common motor vehicle accidents that result in death include car, commercial trucking, and motorcycle accidents. According to The Ohio State Highway Patrol, there were 1,096 motor vehicle fatalities in 2022. On top of that, there were 1,180 fatal traffic crashes. Sadly, these deaths are preventable but happen way too often. Fatal crashes occur as a result of distracted driving, impairment, and careless driving.

Criminal Activity

If your loved one passed away due to criminal activity, the person at fault can be held liable. Crimes like murder and manslaughter are tried as criminal lawsuits. But, families can also file a wrongful death lawsuit on top of that, which is civil.

Defective Products

Defective products have grave design, marketing, or manufacturing issues. Three parties could potentially be liable for defective products that cause death. These include the designer, manufacturer, and seller.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Ohio?

Ohio Revised Code Section 2125.01, states that the decedent's personal representative is the only person who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In this case, the personal representative will be the plaintiff. This just means that they are the person who brings the lawsuit against the person at fault.

The personal representative is someone who is appointed to manage the estate of the deceased person. In the decedent's will, they will state who will be in charge of their estate when the time comes. People usually appoint their surviving immediate family members, like a spouse or child. If a personal representative was not appointed in the will, then the courts appoint someone.

The personal representative has many responsibilities once the person has passed. These responsibilities include:

  1. Collecting the assets of the deceased.
  2. Distributing assets to people named in the will.
  3. Paying off taxes and debts of the deceased.
  4. Determining the value of the estate.
  5. Arranging the funeral.

The personal representative is also in charge of filing the wrongful death lawsuit before the statute of limitations.

Statute of Limitations in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The statute of limitations refers to how long you have to bring a case. In Ohio, the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is 2 years. So, this means that the personal representative has 2 years after the death to file a case. But, we advise that you talk to a wrongful death attorney sooner rather than later. The attorney will still need to gather information and see if you have a case, long before the statute of limitations.

Why Should I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

If your loved one passed away due to someone else's negligence, you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Even though nothing will bring your loved one back, you can hold the person at fault accountable. By holding them accountable, hopefully, they will act more cautiously in the future. Thus, it could save lives.

You will not only get justice for your loved one, but your family will also receive compensation for damages.

What Damages Can Be Recovered?

Two types of damages can be recovered from a wrongful death lawsuit. These are categorized as economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include funeral costs, medical bills, loss of inheritance, and lost wages.

On the other hand, non-economic damages recognize the emotional and mental impact of losing a loved one. So, damages that can be recovered include pain, suffering, and mental anguish. In Ohio, another damage that can be recovered is the loss of consortium. This refers to the loss of affection, friendship, and comfort. Note that this type of damage can not be recovered in every state.

Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

After damages have been awarded to the personal representative, the compensation is distributed among the surviving family members. The distribution of money is based on what the will states. Normally, the family members in the will include surviving spouses, parents, and children.

You may be wondering- Who gets the money in a wrongful death lawsuit if the deceased didn't have a will? When someone didn't make a will before they passed, it is called intestate. There are Ohio laws to determine who receives the compensation in these cases. Typically, surviving spouses and immediate family members will be awarded the money.

Other family members, including siblings and grandparents, typically do not receive compensation. This is unless they can prove that the death caused them extreme emotional and financial loss.

How The Mellino Law Firm Can Help

The empathetic team at The Mellino Law Firm is prepared to assist your family throughout your wrongful death lawsuit. Our attorneys have the expertise to guide your family through the legal process and secure the compensation that they deserve. Our firm’s goal is to advocate for justice for your loved one while ensuring that the person at fault is held accountable.

We encourage you to reach out to our Cleveland, Ohio office at (440) 333-3800 to discuss your possible case.