Here are examples of the kind of wrongful death claims being filed in Ohio.
A wrongful death suit was filed in Cleveland, Ohio in mid-January 2013 by a man whose 28-year-old spouse was killed in a head-on collision last April. The driver of the car that collided with the deceased driver is a 54-year-old woman who has been charged with vehicular homicide and faces a trial this April stemming from the fatal accident. The young woman killed was traveling with her two children in a minivan and one of the children was injured in the crash.
Another Cleveland wrongful death case which was settled recently for $1.45 million involved a young man who lost his life when he was trapped in a high-rise apartment fire. Although the settlement may sound like a huge amount, lawyers said it cost $175,000 just to retain experts needed in the lawsuit.
A Columbus, Ohio wrongful death case, recently settled in Franklin County, involved a 20-year-old pregnant woman, Kelsey Young, who developed the H1N1 virus near the end of her pregnancy (also popularly known as ‘‘swine flu.’’)
Pandemic warnings had been circulated to hospitals and national health agencies that pregnant women were at high-risk for the flu and should be given Tamiflu. When Ms. Young went to the hospital exhibiting symptoms of the flu, however, she was sent home and not given the proper medication. She returned to a different hospital a few days later and gave birth prematurely, then was diagnosed as having the H1N1 virus, but it was too late.
She began to decline rapidly and died when her daughter was a week old. Her daughter survived and is being cared for by her mother.
The death occurred in August 2009. Kelsey’s family sued Dublin Methodist Hospital, Ohio Health and a local physician in January 2010. Terms of the settlement are confidential.
In Portage County, Ohio another wrongful death case is that of a widow who sued for the wrongful death of her husband. He was working alone one night when he became trapped inside the laser-cutting machine he was working with and suffocated. The insurance company contested complete liability alleging the deceased had been trained in how to use the machine and knew not to stay inside of it. The insurance company eventually wound up paying $3 million in the suit including $1 million in punitive damages.
As illustrated above, wrongful death can occur in a variety of ways including car accidents, fires, workplace accidents, explosions and much more. Although no amount of money can ever bring back a loved one who has been lost, a verdict or settlement can defray the costs associated with the death and hold the wrongdoers accountable for their wrongful act(s) of carelessness or negligence.
Insurance companies will often try to say other factors caused your loved one’s death or that there was a pre-existing condition. At Slater & Zurz LLP, we fight these contentions and investigate until we discover what really happened. Even if there has been summary judgment (case is effectively dismissed) in favor of the defendant, there may still be hope for your case.
Ohio recognizes two separate and distinct forms of compensation for someone who dies as a result of another’s party’s negligence. These are commonly called wrongful death claims and survival actions—both are brought by the estate of the deceased person.
A wrongful death claim is family-focused and is brought by the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate for the purpose of compensating the decedent’s family. The wife and children (and sometimes even parents, sisters and brothers) can be compensated for the loss of companionship, affection and support the accident victim would have provided if he had lived. The judgment is not subject to the distribution of a will, but is split between the eligible parties.
Survival actions focus strictly on the decedent. It is recognized to compensate the accident victim for the pain, suffering and medical bills he accrued up until the moment he or she passed away. As these are technically damages accrued during the decedent’s life, they will be added to his estate and distributed as outlined in his will (or through intestacy statutes).
Over the years Slater & Zurz LLP has handled a variety of wrongful death incidents and our Ohio wrongful death lawyers understand the different sources of recovery and theories of liability involved in wrongful death cases.
From our four offices located in Ohio, we represent people statewide and have convenient locations in Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Columbus where you can have a free consultation meeting with us if you so desire. Call us at 1-888-353-0379 to set up an appointment.
A wrongful death claim in Ohio must be brought within two years of the date of the death. Ohio has a “comparative negligence” law which may permit the family of the deceased to recover damages even if the victim was partially at fault in the death.