The loss of a loved one is devastating no matter the circumstances. However, knowing that a member of your family was killed due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing is particularly trying.
At Colombo Law, we represent individuals and families whose relatives died due to the carelessness of another party. Our wrongful death attorneys can pursue the full compensation you deserve for the untimely passing of your family member.
Please call (614) 362-7000 today to speak with a Columbus wrongful death lawyer. Your initial case review is free, and you pay us nothing until we win.
What Is Considered Wrongful Death in Ohio?
In effect, a wrongful death is a personal injury claim where the victim’s injuries prove fatal. The right to legal action survives the deceased individual who would have otherwise been the plaintiff.
Section 2125.01 of the Ohio Revised Code provides the following definition for an action for wrongful death:
“When the death of a person is caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default which would have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued, the person who would have been liable if death had not ensued … shall be liable to an action for damages …”
The Columbus wrongful death lawyers at Colombo law commonly handle wrongful death claims involving the following:
- Truck Accidents
- Car Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Birth Injuries
- Nursing Home Abuse
- Work-Related Injuries
- Natural Gas Injuries
- Accidents on Dangerous Premises
- Dog Bites
- Burn Injuries
Understanding and exercising your legal rights can be difficult when you are reeling from a death in the family. A wrongful death attorney at Colombo Law can investigate the circumstances of your loved one’s death, gather evidence, and pursue the maximum compensation you and your family deserve.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Ohio?
Ohio law distinguishes between who can file a wrongful death lawsuit and those who are entitled to the proceeds if the claim succeeds. In Ohio, the personal representative of the deceased is the only one who can bring a claim for wrongful death.
The personal representative is an individual named as such in the decedent’s will (also known as an executor). Or, if your loved one died without a will, the personal representative will be appointed by the probate court (otherwise known as an administrator).
According to Ohio Revised Code § 2125.02, a wrongful death claim must be brought “for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse, the children, and the parents of the decedent.” Other next of kin (such as siblings, grandparents, and others) may be entitled to wrongful death compensation as well.
How Do You Split a Wrongful Death Settlement in Ohio?
Whether your wrongful death case settles or an award is obtained at trial, the compensation will be shared among the surviving family members. How the proceeds in a successful wrongful death claim are distributed will depend on the proportion of damages each eligible loved one is found to have sustained.
Ohio Revised Code § 2125.03 states that the court is required to “adjust the share of each beneficiary in a manner that is equitable, having due regard for the injury and loss to each beneficiary resulting from the death and for the age and condition of the beneficiaries.” In cases where the kinship of survivors in relation to the deceased is equal, the family will either need to agree how to split the proceeds or defer the decision to the court.
It is also important to consider how the court may order the distribution of wrongful death damages if your loved one died without a will. The Ohio law of intestate succession (Ohio Revised Code § 2105.06) sets the order in which personal property (including the proceeds of a wrongful death claim) must be distributed to surviving relatives as follows:
- Surviving spouse
- Children and other “lineal descendants”
- Brothers and sisters
Splitting a wrongful death settlement or trial award can be challenging, especially when family disagreements arise or the deceased died intestate. A Columbus wrongful death lawyer can provide knowledgeable guidance and support to ensure surviving relatives get their fair share.
What Damages Can Be Recovered for Wrongful Death?
The financial impact of losing a loved one can be immense. Such a loss also has enormous emotional and psychological repercussions on surviving family members.
A Columbus wrongful death lawyer at Colombo Law can pursue the full compensation to which you and your family are entitled. Recoverable damages in a wrongful death claim include:
- Funeral expenses
- The cost of burial or cremation
- Medical and end-of-life expenses (if death was not instantaneous)
- Loss of your loved one’s wages and the income he or she would have made
- Conscious pain and suffering of the decedent prior to death
- Loss of companionship, consortium, society, and support
- Mental and emotional distress of surviving family members
It is crucial to accurately calculate the totality of your losses after a wrongful death. The compensation available in these cases can be substantial, but the evidence must support the amount you pursue.
Hiring a Columbus wrongful death lawyer is essential for ensuring that all of your damages are accounted for and there is sufficient proof for you to recover the compensation you seek. A wrongful death attorney at Colombo Law can negotiate a favorable settlement on your behalf or, if necessary, file a lawsuit and take your case to trial.
Is There a Cap on Wrongful Death in Ohio?
Many states have placed caps on the amount and type of damages that can be recovered in wrongful death claims. Although certain damages for personal injury are capped in Ohio, no such restrictions apply to damages for wrongful death. This is actually codified in Article 1, Section 19a of the Ohio Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
Unlike a number of other states, Ohio recognizes the constitutional right of families to maximum recovery of damages for the wrongful death of a loved one. Colombo Law will build a strong case on your behalf and fight for an outcome that fairly compensates you and your family.
Read More: What Damages Can I Recover in a Wrongful Death Claim?
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Ohio?
Wrongful death claims are subject to strict legal time limits in Ohio. The personal representative of the decedent has just 2 years from the date the victim passed away to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
This statute of limitations applies to wrongful death claims arising from all forms of negligence except when death occurs due to a defective product. In these cases, a claim can be made against the manufacturer or supplier of the product up to 10 years after “the product was delivered to its first purchaser or first lessee who was not engaged in a business in which the product was used as a component in the production, construction, creation, assembly, or rebuilding of another product” (see Ohio Revised Code § 2125.02(D)(2)(a)).
Regardless of the circumstances of your loved one’s death, it is important to consult an attorney as soon as possible if you believe the negligence of another was a factor. Although it is not always necessary to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for wrongful death, it is crucial not to miss out on the limited time you have to sue.
How Do I Prove Wrongful Death?
There are four key elements you need to prove in a wrongful death claim. If the evidence in your case satisfies each of the following conditions, you likely have a viable claim for wrongful death and may be entitled to compensation:
1. Duty of Care
“Duty of care” is the legal term for the responsibility one party has to refrain from actions that have a reasonable likelihood of causing harm to someone else. A driver’s responsibility for following the rules of the road to avoid causing wrecks is a good, straightforward example of the duty of care.
2. Breach of the Duty of Care
The duty of care is breached when the individual responsible fails to act with the necessary degree of care in a given situation. Both negligence (e.g., a motorist exceeding the speed limit) and deliberate wrongdoing (e.g., a motorist actively trying to strike another vehicle) could constitute a breach of the duty of care.
The evidence must show that the negligent or wrongful act of the defendant directly caused the death of your loved one. A direct connection must be made between the wrongful act of the defendant and the fatal injuries your family member sustained.
Finally, you need to demonstrate that the wrongful death of your loved one resulted in compensable damages. Multiple members of your family may be entitled to compensation for losses.
Why Choose Colombo Law for Your Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death cases can be extremely challenging. In addition to the emotional impact of losing someone you love, the loss of a family member can have major financial implications as well.
A Columbus wrongful death lawyer at Colombo Law can help you through this difficult time. Our attorneys are committed to the success of your case, and we bring decades of combined experience handling a wide variety of claims where serious injuries and wrongful death are common outcomes.
The biggest reasons to hire a wrongful death lawyer at Colombo Law include:
- Experience: Our firm has unparalleled experience litigating truck accident cases (i.e., complicated claims where fatalities are frequently a factor). We apply this skill and advanced knowledge to a number of other cases where wrongful death occurs, from motor vehicle accidents to medical negligence to workplace accidents.
- Results: Colombo Law has earned millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients. We have a 99% Win Rate because of the care we take in the cases we select and our aggressive representation of each client’s best interest.
- Trial Attorneys: Many attorneys are content to settle cases; some never set foot in a courtroom. At Colombo Law, we prepare every case as though it will go to trial, and we never hesitate to go to court if it presents the best opportunity to recover the compensation you deserve.
- No Fee Promise: There is no upfront cost to contact Colombo Law about your case. What’s more, you will not pay any fees unless and until we settle your case or win at trial.
- The Colombo Advantage: Caring is a cornerstone of the client experience at Colombo Law. Each member of our team recognizes that you have suffered an unimaginable loss, and we see it as our responsibility not only to protect your legal rights but to provide compassionate support after the wrongful death of a loved one.
Our team knows that time is of the essence when a loved one is killed in an accident. We start building your case right away, investigating what caused your loved one’s death, identifying who is responsible, and collecting the evidence necessary to hold individuals, companies, and other negligent parties to account.
Wrongful death claims often involve issues of complex liability and significant damages. Both of these issues make it crucial to hire a knowledgeable, experienced wrongful death attorney who can fight to maximize your compensation via settlement negotiations or, if necessary, by taking your case to trial.
Contact a Columbus Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Few events in life are more tragic than the unexpected death of a family member. In cases where the negligence of one or more parties caused someone to die, families can pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim.
At Colombo Law, we advocate passionately for our clients. Our extensive experience with multiple types of personal injury cases translates into advanced skill and knowledge handling claims where the victim was fatally injured.
Please call Colombo Law at (614) 362-7000 today for a free case review. Our wrongful death lawyers serve clients in Columbus and throughout Ohio.