Handling Cincinnati-Area Wrongful Death Claims and Lawsuits
Wrongful Death Lawyer
The unexpected loss of a loved one is a heart-rending experience. Families not only are destabilized but thrust into chaos. This often creates financial hardship. Helping to put lives back together after a tragic event is a difficult but necessary process.
For those who have lost a family member through the fault of another party, the claim or lawsuit should be thoroughly presented. It will never be overlooked that, whatever compensation may be received, the pain of the loss will always be a part of those left behind.
The first step is to ease the financial burden caused by the sudden loss, if the deceased was a financial contributor to the family.
Ohio Wrongful Death Lawsuits
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has stated that, in the past 15 years, about 40,000 Americans have lost their lives.
Serving the southwestern Ohio area for over 30 years, Tom Gelwicks and his associates know that the unexpected loss of a loved one is life’s most acute pain. When it is the result of the negligent or wrongful acts of another, the trauma is emotionally devastating.
Losing a parent, child or sibling destabilizes a family and often creates immediate financial hardship at a time when people are struggling with the changed reality around them. Putting lives back together after a tragic event is a delicate task.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death claims are those which involve a cause of action brought by certain family members of a decedent. The death must have been precipitated by the wrongful conduct of another. A wrongful act is one caused by conduct that was negligent, reckless or even intentional. It is irrelevant what the intention of the wrongdoer was at the time of the harmful event.
In Ohio, the surviving spouse shares in any recovery with the surviving children and others. The court will consider the full value of the life of the decedent, as well as their lifetime income and the value of their enjoyment of living. Beyond this, counsel for the administrator or executor of the decedent’s estate may also argue for the medical bills, as well as possible physical pain and mental suffering incurred before death.
The majority of all cases, including wrongful death cases, are settled prior to trial. Some will be settled before a lawsuit is even filed. Others will proceed through the entire litigation process, and settle just before the jury enters the courtroom.
These claims are always ultimately processed through Probate Court and are signed off by the judge or a magistrate.
Establishing a Wrongful Death Case
In order to prove a wrongful death lawsuit in Ohio, a few elements must be shown.
- The death must have been the result of someone’s negligence.
- A duty of reasonable care was violated.
- The dependents left behind are suffering as a result of their loss.
Entitlements in a Wrongful Death lawsuit
The damages to be asked for in a wrongful death claim include those losses that the decedent and their family have suffered.
- Loss of current earnings from the deceased family member
- Loss of future earnings
- Loss of prospective inheritance
- Loss of consortium by the surviving spouse and children
- Loss of household services
- Physical pain and psychological suffering
- Medical expenses
- Death and funeral expenses
Preparing for the Wrongful Death Claim
Many wrongful death claims involve multiple statutes of limitation. These can make representation of these claims treacherous. An Ohio statute of limitations requires that a claim be filed, as a lawsuit action, within a designated timeframe. If this does not occur then all rights will be forever lost.
There even can be a separate statute of limitations for the conscious pain and suffering experienced by the decedent before they died. Observing time limits can be a real hardship, when the surviving family members experience clinical depression. Just processing through the grieving process is consuming for them. Having to protect their legal rights adds to their extreme stress and complication.
Ohio law requires that an executor or administrator bring the wrongful death claim, as representative of the family and heirs. Legal counsel will first have to open an estate in Probate Court. This will take place in the county in which the decedent resided. The Probate Court judge or magistrate will have full power to accept or reject the terms of any settlement offered by the insurance company of the person who caused the death.
The Probate Court will also dictate how the proceeds will be distributed among the next of kin and the heirs. This may well include those persons who did not have a particularly close relationship with the decedent. Usually family conflicts can be avoided if the administrator or executor is carefully guided by legal counsel. If all heirs and next of kin are included in the entire process, there is rarely a problem. Resentment and power dynamics can be avoided with kindness and sensitivity shown toward all prospective recipients of funds.