Thousands of people lose their lives in accidents every year. Many of these accidents are caused by the actions of another party. Some of the most common fatal accidents include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Medical malpractice
When someone passes away unexpectedly in an accident, surviving family members may suffer emotionally and financially. Filing a wrongful death claim against the parties at fault for the accident allows family members to hold them financially accountable for the financial harm they have caused.
Wrongful death defined
Note that a wrongful death claim can also apply to cases involving intentional acts, such as a fatal assault.
Under Ohio law, a wrongful death is defined as a death caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another person. If the victim of the accident was still alive today, they would have been legally permitted to file a negligence claim against the at-fault party.
Since the victim has passed away, only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim for the benefit of the estate, as well as the benefit of the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased.
Proving a wrongful death claim generally requires you to prove that another party’s negligence caused your loved one’s accident and death. You will have to show:
- The other party owed a duty to your loved one. For example, a doctor has duty to their patients to provide care that meets the medical industry’s accepted standard of care.
- The other party breached the duty owed to your loved one. For example, a motorist runs a red light and collides with your loved one’s vehicle, the motorist breached their duty to drive in a safe manner.
- The other party’s negligence caused your loved one’s death, in that your loved one would not have suffered fatal injuries if it had not been for the other party’s negligence.
- Surviving family members have suffered damages because of the death. These damages may include medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, loss of the decedent’s income, and loss of companionship.
Under Ohio law, you have two years from the deceased’s date of death to file a wrongful death claim. An attorney can help you file the necessary paperwork and build your case.