Wrongful death cases: Seeking support and accountability
When it comes to incidents in which a person is unintentionally killed, “accident” often does not feel like the right word. Rather than an unexpected misfortune that no one could have foreseen or prevented, many fatal accidents are caused by someone else’s negligence.
A drunk driver could cause a catastrophic high-speed crash along Interstate 75, a defective gas grill could kill a resident of Oakwood in a backyard explosion or a medical error at one of Dayton’s many hospitals could lead to the death of a loved one.
Wrongful death civil lawsuits differ from other types of personal injury claims in that they are filed on behalf of the deceased person by his or her family. In these types of cases, family members seek to recover damages that resulted from or are related to the death of their loved one. Wrongful death suits can demand accountability, even if it is not possible to file criminal charges against a defendant. Another key reason wrongful death lawsuits are considered is to provide financial support for family members, who are frequently as devastated economically by the death as they are emotionally.
The law firm of Elk & Elk was formed decades ago to ensure that accident victims and their families receive the compensation they need and deserve. Our attorneys have handled many types of wrongful death lawsuits. They will fight to protect your rights, no matter how complex the case may be.
Ohio’s laws regarding wrongful death cases
It is helpful to understand the laws that govern wrongful death lawsuits in Ohio. A wrongful death case must prove the following:
- The negligent party or parties had a duty to exercise “due care” in interactions with the deceased.
- The actions of the negligent party represented a breach of that duty.
- The breach of duty was the cause of harm to the deceased.
- Those filing the suit have suffered damages from the death of the loved one for whom the suit has been filed.
In Ohio, the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of death of the deceased person named in the suit. The state is strict in defining which family members can file the lawsuit and sue for damages. Only a surviving spouse, surviving children or surviving parents may file the suit. Other relatives such as siblings or grandparents must prove in court they have suffered a loss from the death to be a part of the lawsuit.
Wrongful death suits filed on behalf of deceased loved ones who lived in Dayton will most likely be filed at the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, which hears all civil lawsuits worth more than $15,000. Your attorney can walk you through what you can expect to happen as the litigation progresses.
Calculating damages: How much is a life worth?
It is especially important to note in wrongful death cases that the lawsuit that your family may file is NOT trying to put a price tag on your loved one’s value, nor do damages obtained through a settlement or court award imply that one life is worth more than another. Damages are simply the amount that the plaintiff’s side requests as compensation for its losses, as well as the ongoing losses survivors will suffer as a result of the death.
A skilled personal injury attorney can work with you to calculate a claim for damages that include the following types of losses:
- Economic losses – These can include funeral and burial expenses, loss of the deceased’s income, projected loss of the deceased’s future income (until retirement age), medical expenses of the deceased from the accident before he/she died, and loss of a potential inheritance from the deceased.
- Noneconomic losses – These are less quantifiable losses, including your loved one’s contribution to household tasks and upkeep, your mental anguish, your pain and suffering because of the death, and your loss of companionship and consortium (the intimate relationship between spouses).
Punitive damages are another kind of request that can be made in a wrongful death claim. However, they are rarely awarded in Ohio courts, and your attorney must demonstrate that the negligent party acted with malicious intent or extreme disregard for human life.
We focus on producing results for you
Elk & Elk attorneys have a record of success in numerous types of wrongful death suits, and our team can construct a compelling claim for your family on behalf of your loved one.
The personal injury cases we handle
Wrongful death case results
Our firm has obtained some of the largest settlements and awards for clients in Ohio and the surrounding region. Here is a sampling of our case results for our wrongful death clients:
- A settlement of $39 million was delivered to the family of a 41-year-old man who was struck and killed by a vehicle while working in a construction zone. The amount included $20 million in punitive damages.
- The wife of a man killed while riding a motorcycle was awarded more than $2.7 million from an auto parts store that sold the husband a defective right rear axle. The wife was also severely injured in the accident.
- The family of a 39-year-old motorist was awarded $1.9 million after an accident in which the defendant’s car crossed the center line and hit the motorist’s car.
- After a 69-year-old woman died from a brain bleed following bowel surgery, her family received $800,000 from a physician associated with a nursing/rehabilitation facility that failed to appropriately monitor the woman’s anticoagulation therapy.
Learn more about your legal options during a free consultation
It takes time to process the grief from the loss of a loved one. If you are considering filing a wrongful death case, Elk & Elk can help you meet important deadlines and vigorously advocate on your family’s behalf while treating you with respect and compassion. We serve clients in Dayton, as well as statewide. To set up a free case consultation, call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO or email us.