The devastating loss of a loved one can leave you and your family struggling to cope with severe emotional and financial consequences. However, if the death of your loved one was the result of another party’s negligence or wrongdoing, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses.
For over 40 years, our Cincinnati wrongful death attorneys have helped fellow Ohioans recover losses caused by the wrongful death of a loved one. We have brought those responsible to justice, providing our clients the opportunity to heal. We take these cases very seriously and do everything we can to get our clients the resolution they deserve. If you have recently lost a loved one, contact our dedicated and compassionate legal team at Slater & Zurz to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death claims are brought against an individual or entity when they cause another person’s death, either through negligence or intentional wrongdoing. Under Ohio Revised Code 2125, surviving family members can pursue compensation from the party who is legally liable for their loved one’s death. In Ohio, only the estate’s personal representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit. If they successfully recover, the compensation is distributed between eligible family members. These family members generally include a surviving spouse, children, parents, and in certain cases, the decedent’s siblings.
Causes of Wrongful Death
A wrongful death claim can be brought after a death that occurs as the result of another party’s “wrongful act, neglect, or default.” Wrongful death can arise from intentional acts, such as assaults, road rage, and shootings. However, most are a result of an accident. The most common circumstances that lead to wrongful death are listed below.
- Car accidents – The highest percentage of wrongful death claims involve automobile accidents. Car accidents are often caused by drunk driving, distracted driving, reckless driving, and unsafe road conditions.
- Truck accidents – Due to a truck’s large size and capability of producing a high degree of force, accidents involving trucks or “semis” often result in fatalities.
- Motorcycle accidents – Motorcyclists are incredibly vulnerable while riding because they have very little protection. In the event of an accident, they are at high risk of sustaining fatal injuries.
- Pedestrian accidents – Drunk driving, aggressive driving, and distracted driving can all lead to accidents involving pedestrians. When a pedestrian is involved in a collision with a motor vehicle, the injuries are very often fatal.
- Medical malpractice – Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional fails to provide an acceptable standard of care to his or her patient. Medical malpractice that often leads to wrongful death claims includes birth injuries, surgical errors, and medication errors.
- Workplace accidents – Accidents that happen on the job are another common cause of wrongful death. Fatalities can result from hazardous conditions, including caustic chemicals, dangerous or defective machinery, and unsafe work environments.
- Product liability – Fatalities can occur from products that are poorly designed, or improperly manufactured or marketed. Responsible parties generally include the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of the defective product.
- Nursing home abuse – Nursing home abuse takes place when a resident of a nursing home or other long-term care facility is neglected or abused. Nursing home abuse and neglect can result in fatal injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, bedsores, and infections.
- Premises Liability – Property owners have a legal responsibility to maintain their so as to prevent injuries to others. When they fail to do so, it can result in the victim’s wrongful death. Premises liability matters include slip and fall accidents, accidental drowning, fires, elevator accidents, stair or balcony collapses, and injuries resulting from inadequate security.
Compensatory Damages in an Ohio Wrongful Death Case
A wrongful death lawsuit allows family members of a deceased victim to recover compensation for their losses. The types and amount of compensation vary from case to case but generally include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost earnings of the deceased
- The loss of the decedent’s services, such as childcare and home maintenance
- Lost benefits, such as health coverage and pensions
- Loss of potential inheritance
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship
Call 888.534.4850 to discuss your legal options with a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney in Ohio.
Statute of Limitations for Ohio Wrongful Death Claims
Ohio sets a time restriction for filing a wrongful death claim in civil court. The personal representative of the decedent’s estate has two years from the time of the fatality or the date the death was deemed wrongful to file a lawsuit. If a claim is filed after two years, it will generally be dismissed, leaving the surviving members with no right to seek financial recovery. That is why it is essential to begin the process as soon as possible by contacting a qualified wrongful death attorney.
How a Cincinnati Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help
Wrongful death lawsuits can be complicated and emotionally charged. Having an experienced wrongful death attorney on your side can make this challenging process less stressful and your case’s outcome more successful. Your attorney will begin by performing a detailed investigation into your loved one’s passing, identifying the cause of death and all responsible parties. Then he or she will work with a team of medical and financial experts to accurately assess the damages in your wrongful death claim and negotiate skillfully to recover maximum compensation. If a fair settlement can’t be reached through negotiation, your attorney will expertly represent your best interests in court.
Wrongful Death Frequently Asked Questions
Can I still pursue a wrongful death claim if my deceased loved one was partially at fault?
Even if your loved one was partially at fault for the accident that caused their death, you might still be able to recover a portion of the damages. Under Ohio’s comparative fault law, you and your family are entitled to damages as long as your deceased loved one was found to be 50% or less at fault. Though your final recovery will be reduced by your deceased loved one’s percentage of fault.
What is the difference between a medical malpractice lawsuit and a wrongful death lawsuit?
A medical malpractice lawsuit is one in which a medical professional’s negligence or carelessness causes injuries to the victim. If medical malpractice leads to the victim’s death, the family will likely pursue a wrongful death claim.
In a wrongful death claim, the victim dies to the negligence of another person. These claims can arise from medical malpractice, but can also be caused by other situations, such as car accidents, nursing home abuse, and workplace accidents.
In simple terms, medical malpractice can lead to a wrongful death claim, but not all wrongful deaths stem from medical malpractice.
Can I file a wrongful death lawsuit if the person responsible for my loved one’s death is also being criminally prosecuted?
Although many wrongful deaths are caused by negligent acts, some causes may be criminal in nature. In these cases, the law considers a wrongful death lawsuit separate from the defendant’s criminal case. Therefore, your right to file a civil suit is not affected by the at-fault party’s separate criminal proceedings.
Contact a Cincinnati Wrongful Death Attorney at Slater & Zurz
The loss of a loved one can take an immense emotional toll on you and your family. That is why we fight so diligently to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions and to obtain maximum recovery on your behalf.
We understand these times are also financially challenging, so we take all wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you and your family will not have to pay any up-front fees, and you will owe us nothing unless we recover damages. If we obtain compensation, our fees are taken from a portion of the total recovery. In the unlikely event we are not successful, you will owe us nothing.
We also offer free initial consultations to ensure you understand your legal rights and options. At Slater & Zurz, we are committed to honoring your loved one’s memory and helping you and your family in any way we can. Learn more by calling our Cincinnati wrongful death attorneys at 888.534.4850.