Who Is Eligible To File a Wrongful Death Claim in Columbus Ohio?

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When a loved one dies, we feel empty inside and devastated. The feeling of helpless anger and loss grows even worse when you know that someone's negligence or wrongful act caused your loved one to lose their life. However, you are not helpless. A compassionate and dedicated wrongful death attorney may be able to hold the responsible person liable to pay you the financial compensation you deserve for your loss.

We know that no amount of money can replace a person's presence in your life. But we also know that you are left burdened with medical bills and burial expenses. Moreover, if the deceased person was the main breadwinner, you also suffer the loss of income and other financial benefits that person brought to the household. For this reason, it might be a good idea to contact the wrongful death lawyers at Babin Law, LLC to see if we can help you file our wrongful death claim and negotiate a fair settlement amount on your behalf.

What Represents a Wrongful Death in Ohio?

A wrongful death represents any instance when a person loses their life due to someone else's negligence, wrongful act, or reckless conduct. It does not have to be an intentional act (manslaughter or murder). Moreover, wrongful death actions are not criminal cases. They can be filed by the eligible persons in parallel with a criminal case or in the absence of such a case.

As the Legal Information Institute defines it, negligence is "a failure to act with the duty of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances." For example, a speeding or distracted driver may cause someone else's death due to their negligence and without any intention of taking their life.

On the other hand, if the speeding driver was also under the influence of alcohol, a court may treat it as reckless conduct. The distinction is important because in this case the bereaved family is entitled to receive punitive damages, as well as economic and non-economic damages.

To make things clearer for you, here are some frequent instances that qualify as a wrongful death cause:

Medical Malpractice

In many cases, patients suffer fatal injuries or die during medical procedures or as a result of malfunctioning medical devices or the treatment prescribed by a medical professional. Some common examples of medical malpractice leading to a wrongful death lawsuit are:

  • surgical errors
  • anesthesia errors
  • failure to diagnose a fatal condition
  • birth errors

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Car accidents, truck accidents, bicycle accidents, and motorcycle accidents claim the lives of hundreds of people in Ohio each year. In 2020, no less than 1,046 people met their untimely death in motor vehicle accidents.

These fatal accidents are usually caused by:

  • distracted drivers
  • DUI drivers
  • driver fatigue (especially in the case of truck accidents)
  • speeding
  • driver error (failure to yield)

If your loved one was the victim of a commercial truck accident, the attorney will pursue the responsible parties for the wrongful death damages, including the truck driver's employer (vicarious liability).

Construction Accidents

Construction sites are among the most dangerous places for employees, as well as for innocent pedestrians. Many workplace accidents resulting in death happen on a construction site due to:

  • unsecured loads
  • malfunctioning heavy machinery
  • faulty electrical wiring
  • poorly signaled dangerous areas

The negligent party (the employer) has an obligation to make sure that the bereaved family receives the monetary compensation prescribed by the laws of Ohio.

Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

When you place an elderly parent or relative in a nursing home, you believe that they will be safe and properly looked after. Sadly, many elderly people die in nursing homes due to the abuse or neglect of the employees who should have been taking care of them. Wrongful death attorneys can look into a case involving a deceased individual in a nursing home and offer the family legal representation.

Product Liability

In some cases, a product has a design or manufacturing fault that makes it dangerous to use. In the worst-case scenarios, a person would die as a direct result of using a product according to its intended use and the producer's instructions.

In this case, the legal action for wrongful death will be brought against all liable parties identified by the lawyer.

Who Can File Wrongful Death Suits in Ohio?

Now, let us focus on the main topic of the article: the eligible parties to take legal actions after someone's unexpected death caused by at-fault party's negligence. According to the Ohio Revised Statutes 2125.02, the legal action can be brought only by the representative of the deceased individual's estate.

If the person left a will, the representative is the executor of the will. However, if the person died intestate, the probate court will appoint a representative. According to the law, the representative will file the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf and for the benefit of:

  • the children
  • the surviving spouse
  • the parents

The distribution of the benefits (the wrongful death settlement) shall be done in accordance with the inheritance rights stipulated in Ohio Revised Codes Chapter 2105.

Types of Compensations Available in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Bereaved families are entitled to receive three types of compensation: for economic damages, for non-economic damages, and punitive damages.

Economic damages refer to the actual financial losses sustained as a result of their loved one's death. They typically cover:

  • medical expenses
  • funeral expenses
  • loss of income
  • loss of services
  • loss of other financial contributions (pension plan, future savings)

Non-economic damages are very hard to estimate. There is no price to pay fro the loss of companionship, loss of consortium as well as for the mental anguish caused by a loved one's untimely death. This is a highly sensitive topic for any bereaved family, but an experienced wrongful death lawyer will deal with this aspect with compassion and professionalism.

Finally, punitive damages are awarded by the jury if it can be proven that the responsible party acted with willful intention or gross negligence (acts of violence, assaults, etc.).

Do Not Forget about the Statute of Limitations

Taking legal action after an accidental death may not occur to you during the first weeks or months after the tragic event. However, you must consider the fact that you do not have a lot of time available to seek justice. The statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits in Ohio is only 2 years after the person's death.

Since preparing and filing a lawsuit successfully takes time, you should consider hiring a law firm as soon as possible. In many cases, the lawyers have to conduct their own investigation of the event that caused your loved one's death. This involves finding the police reports, hiring accident reconstruction specialists, identifying and talking to eyewitnesses. All these things take time, and if you miss the deadline by just one day, you will not be eligible to claim any kind of compensation.

Hire a Team of Wrongful Death Attorneys Who Care about You

At Babin Law, LLC, each client is a real person with a unique story, not a case number. However, we use extra care and compassion in wrongful death cases. We know that you are dealing with emotional trauma and cannot think clearly about the future. This is why we are here - to ensure that your family will not be left in debt and facing uncertain times after a loved one's death.

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