Wrongful Death Claims: 2 Damages That Can Be Recovered September 14, 2023.
A wrongful death attorney helps survivors hold parties accountable who unlawfully caused the death of a family member. Wrongful death claims serve as a way for these survivors to recover two key types of damages: economic and non-economic damages.
The Legal Framework for Wrongful Death Cases in Ohio
Wrongful death is a specific cause of action that permits certain individuals to sue for compensation when a family member is killed by another through a wrongful act, neglect, or default.
It is not a criminal charge. However, law enforcement may get involved and pursue parallel criminal charges at the same time as the wrongful death suit.
What Types of Actions Permit a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Generally speaking, the three types of actions that could sustain a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Wrongful acts, such as criminal violence leading to a homicide
- Neglect, such as a breach of a duty of care that causes death
- Default, which is a failure to do something that should have been done, resulting in the death of another
It is important to note that the results of any criminal proceedings against a person who is being sued for wrongful death are not binding upon civil proceedings against them. If the state fails to convict a defendant of any level of homicide, the decedent's family may still seek to hold the defendant liable for monetary damages.
Who Can Pursue Compensation?
To be successful in a wrongful death claim, you will need to follow procedural rules when seeking compensation. For this reason, claimants typically fare much better compensation-wise when they have an experienced wrongful death lawyer representing them.
In some states, the decedent’s family members are authorized by statute to file a wrongful death claim. However, in Ohio, wrongful death claims must be filed by the decedent’s personal representative, sometimes known as the executor.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a specified time period during which a certain legal action — such as a wrongful death lawsuit — must take place. Once the time limit has run, the claim is no longer valid.
In Ohio, family members seeking wrongful death damages have two years to take legal action. The clock starts ticking on the day the decedent passes away, or two years from the date that it became known that the death was wrongful.
Wrongful deaths are unexpected and leave the survivors struggling financially and emotionally. Fortunately, two types of damages — economic and non-economic — are available that you can seek to address these losses.
Economic damages cover the financial costs and consequences of the death, such as medical costs, future income loss, and loss of retirement benefits.
Funeral and Burial Expenses
Another important loss that economic damages cover are costs associated with funeral and burial expenses. The cost of respectfully saying goodbye to a loved one has skyrocketed over the years. With compensation for funeral and burial expenses, family members can pay their respects but must claim reasonable expenses.
Loss of Inheritance
Loss of inheritance is an economic loss that relates to the inheritance that the survivors would have been entitled to, had the deceased individual lived a full life. Many factors are taken into account when determining the amount of this type of loss, including the age of the decedent and their income and assets.
Ohio law recognizes the emotional and mental impact of losing a loved one and allows for the recovery of non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and loss of companionship and society.
For example, loss of consortium refers to the loss of care and benefits that came with the relationship between the survivors and the deceased. This means that a spouse can claim loss of consortium for the loss of the intimate relationship they shared with their loved one.
Additionally, in Ohio, children may sue for loss of consortium, which is not allowed in various other states.
Survival actions are not wrongful death claims, but they are often associated with them. They are actions based on claims that the decedent would have been authorized to file had they lived.
For instance, if your loved one passed away one year after an injury caused by negligence, a survival action based on negligence could be filed for the pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages the decedent suffered during that year.
As far as damages go, they are distributed according to the will of the decedent. If the decedent left no will, the proceeds from the claim would be distributed according to Ohio’s probate laws.
Factors That Affect Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
In every case, the skill of your wrongful death lawyer will play a critical role in how much compensation you receive. Attorneys in this line of work concentrate their efforts solely on maximizing the damages payout for their clients.
Aside from the skill and experience of your attorney, the extent of the losses suffered by the family will be determinative. For instance, the wrongful death of a working father of four will typically cause more compensable losses than a single person with no dependents or obligations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
For maximum compensation, the personal representatives of decedents should hire a wrongful death lawyer.
How Much Does a Wrongful Death Lawyer Charge?
Wrongful death lawyers generally operate on a contingency basis. They don’t get paid unless they win.
How Long Do Wrongful Death Cases Take?
It varies from claim to claim. Complex issues can cause claims to take up to and over a year.
Turn to a Qualified Wrongful Death Lawyer for Justice
The compassionate, experienced team at The Mellino Law Firm is ready to help you replace the support you have lost by pursuing maximum compensation in Ohio. We can guide you on how to file a wrongful death claim that addresses the scope of the losses you’ve suffered.
Get the justice your family and your loved one deserve — contact The Mellino Law Firm today.