There is nothing easy about coping with the death of a loved one, regardless of the circumstances.
If you believe your loved one’s death was caused by the negligence of another person or company, you may want to learn more about the Ohio wrongful death statute to understand your options for recovery.
Though no amount of compensation can alleviate your grief, it can help reduce the financial and emotional hardship of your loss.
Ohio Wrongful Death Statute
The Ohio wrongful death statute is found under Ohio Revised Statute Section 2125. These claims are brought in civil court. To have a valid claim under the Ohio wrongful death statute, the death must have been caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person or party.
- Wrongful act: Often considered an intentional act of violence such as assault.
- Negligence: A duty of care was owed. Breach of that duty caused the action that resulted in death.
- Default: Someone failed to do something they were required to do. Their failure resulted in the death.
Wrongful death claims are very similar to personal injury claims and contain many of the same elements when it comes to the burden of proof and available remedies.
Who Can Bring an Ohio Wrongful Death Claim?
Under the Ohio Wrongful Death Statute, the personal representative of the estate can file a lawsuit. The probate court will appoint a representative if one does not exist.
This representative has to be an actual person and cannot be an entity such as a corporation. The representative can bring a claim for both the estate and the family members of the deceased.
Who Can Receive Compensation?
The Ohio wrongful death statute presumes that certain family members will have suffered losses in relation to the deceased. These family members include:
- The surviving spouse,
- The surviving parents, and
- The surviving children, including biological and adopted children.
Several other states allow siblings and other next of kin to be automatically eligible for compensation. Next of kin in Ohio must prove to the court that they are entitled to relief.
What Type of Compensation Is Available?
Under the Ohio Wrongful Death Statute, beneficiaries may be entitled to compensation for financial loss and pain and suffering. These damages may include:
- Loss of future earnings from the decedent;
- Funeral and burial costs;
- Medical expenses incurred prior to death and related to the cause of death;
- Loss of services such as help with raising children, chores, and other tasks;
- Loss of companionship and all other relational aspects of having the decedent around to share life;
- Loss of prospective inheritance; and
- Mental anguish and stress incurred by surviving family members.
If all surviving family members are related by the same degree, the compensation will be split evenly. Otherwise, the court will make a decision on how funds are divided.
Ohio Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
In Ohio, the representative of the deceased has up to two years from the time of death to file a wrongful death claim. If it was unknown that the death was caused by a wrongful act, the representative has two years from the time the wrongful or negligent act became known.
Though two years may seem like an adequate amount of time, it is important to file a claim as soon as you are comfortable. This will make it easier to obtain the necessary evidence to benefit your case.
How Can a Wrongful Death Attorney Help?
Trying to cope with the loss of a loved one while simultaneously navigating the court system is sure to be stressful and overwhelming. An experienced Ohio wrongful death attorney will be able to guide you through the process from start to finish. Here are some of the ways an attorney can be beneficial:
- Evaluate the merits of your case so you can be assured that you are doing the right thing by filing a claim;
- File the proper paperwork, and follow all necessary and timely legal procedures so you don’t have to worry about them;
- Conduct a full and thorough investigation into the wrongful death claim to gather evidence for your case;
- Negotiate with insurance companies for appropriate compensation;
- Determine how much compensation beneficiaries should receive for the death of their loved one; and
- Prepare and conduct trial proceedings should the need arise.
You don’t have to do this alone. Choose experienced and compassionate guidance to help you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact Aaron Bensinger for a free consultation.