Frequently Asked Questions About a Wrongful Death Case.

Losing a loved one is heartbreaking. However, learning your family member’s death was completely avoidable, caused solely by someone else’s careless or intentional actions, is indescribably devastating.

If you recently lost a loved one, our compassionate team of wrongful death attorneys at Slater & Zurz first and foremost want to offer you our sincerest condolences. We understand that after the loss of a loved one, you and your family will be searching diligently for answers to endless questions. Below, we address the most common questions families have about wrongful death and seeking justice in an Ohio wrongful death lawsuit. If you have additional questions or wish to begin the legal process, we welcome and encourage you to contact our firm.

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When someone dies as a result of a person or entity’s negligence or intentional actions, the decedent’s estate can file a lawsuit against the party legally liable for the death. The personal representative of the estate files on behalf of the decedent’s loved ones. Wrongful death lawsuits involve a wide range of situations, including car accidents, medical malpractice, birth injuries, construction accidents, and nursing home abuse.
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Wrongful death settlements can be paid out in one of two ways; a structured settlement or lump sum.

A structured settlement is an arrangement agreed upon by both parties that provide the deceased’s loved ones with regular payments over time. The primary benefit of accepting a structured settlement is that it offers long-term financial stability. This is ideal in cases where the decedent was the primary source of income for the estate’s beneficiaries. Still, it can prevent the beneficiaries from paying off expenses or debt right away.

Receiving a lump sum, or getting the entire settlement amount all at once, has its own benefits and drawbacks. It can be beneficial because it gives the estate the means to immediately pay off any medical bills, funeral and burial costs, legal fees, and other accrued debt. However, managing a large sum of money and spending it wisely can be challenging. It is sadly not uncommon for beneficiaries to quickly spend the money they receive and soon be struggling to make ends meet.

Contact a Slater & Zurz Akron wrongful death lawyer for a free consultation. There are apsolutly no fees unless we win your case.

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Because every wrongful death case has a different set of circumstances, it is hard to estimate how long your lawsuit will take. While some settle quickly, even in as little as a few months, others can take several years to resolve. Generally, when someone isn’t working with a lawyer and accepts the initial settlement offered by the insurance company, the process is faster. However, the downside of quickly accepting the settlement is that it often leaves you with much less than what you deserve. To receive the maximum compensation in your wrongful death case, you may need to file a lawsuit and let your attorney advocate on your behalf. The process may take longer, but your chances of receiving what you rightfully deserve are increased significantly.
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Each state has different laws relating to the division of wrongful death settlements and verdicts. Ohio law attempts to divide them as fairly as possible based on the degree of damages suffered by each beneficiary. In most cases, damages are primarily given to the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, and parents. Typically, the deceased’s siblings are not included.

If others believe they are entitled to a portion of the settlement, they will need to make a claim and prove how and what they suffered. The court will make a determination based on their degree of relationship to the deceased, their financial dependence on the decedent, and to what degree of loss they suffered.

A Columbus wrongful death lawyer is standing by to take your call for a free consultation. There are apsolutly no fees unless we win your case.

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If your loved one died due to medical malpractice or nursing home abuse or neglect, you have the right to seek compensation in a wrongful death case. Though first, it is important to understand what medical malpractice and abuse or neglect are and whether you have a valid cause of action.

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, or medical facility, such as a hospital, fails to provide a patient with the appropriate level of care. This substandard care ultimately results in injury or death to the patient.

Nursing home abuse and neglect are considered any negligent action or intentional wrongdoing by a nursing home or other long-term care facility employee that results in injury or death to a resident. This includes physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse and neglect of the resident’s needs.

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It is difficult to know precisely how much a wrongful death lawsuit might be worth without first knowing the particular case in detail. We cannot provide an average settlement amount for the unique circumstances of every case to ultimately determine its value or worth. With that being said, damages in a wrongful death lawsuit may include:
  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • The loss of the decedent’s earnings
  • Loss of the decedent’s benefits, such as health insurance and pensions
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium

Although it is quite rare, some Ohio wrongful death verdicts include punitive damages. These damages are not awarded to compensate a victim’s family. Instead, they are ordered by the judge to punish the defendant for their exceptionally blatant or egregious behavior.

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The person or people eligible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit is determined by each state’s laws. In Ohio, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This representative is either the executor or administrator of the estate. In cases where the victim died intestate, or without a will, the personal representative will be legally appointed by the probate court.

The estate’s representative will file the lawsuit on behalf of the beneficiaries. If and when a settlement or verdict is reached, the amount received will be distributed to the beneficiaries as set forth by Ohio inheritance laws.

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A statute of limitations is the maximum amount of time a party has to initiate legal action from the date of the alleged offense. This time limit varies from state to state and by the nature of the offense itself. In Ohio, a wrongful death lawsuit must be initiated within two years of a loved one’s death. If the legal representative does not take action within those two years, they will likely be denied their right to pursue compensation from the liable party.
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Once you and your attorney have determined there are valid grounds to bring a wrongful death lawsuit and it is within your state’s statute of limitations for doing so, your attorney will file the necessary documents to commence a civil lawsuit. The initial document is typically the petition or complaint, which provides the legal basis or grounds for your case. Your Ohio wrongful death lawyer will also file a summons, notifying the defendant that he or she is being sued and detailing where the lawsuit will be heard. From there, the discovery process will begin. In this phase, both sides exchange requested documents and information about the case. Negotiations will ensue, where an acceptable agreement may be reached. If a settlement cannot be agreed upon, the case will go to court, where both sides will present their arguments. The judge or jury will make a determination, and a verdict will be issued.
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You have the legal right to seek justice and compensation for injuries your loved one sustained through hospital negligence or nursing home abuse. Before you file, it is best to have an understanding of what to expect during the process.

First, you will meet with your Ohio personal injury lawyer to discuss your case and determine whether you have a valid cause of action. Should you choose to pursue legal action, your attorney will begin the process by performing a thorough investigation into the details surrounding your loved one’s death.

Your lawyer will then file a complaint or petition with the court, and the defendant will be notified of the lawsuit. Both sides will gather and exchange evidence and other information. The attorneys will discuss a possible settlement; however, if they can’t resolve the matter out of court, the case will go to trial, where the judge will render a verdict.

Discuss Your Wrongful Death Case with a Qualified Attorney

We understand this is an exceptionally difficult time for you and your loved ones. That is why we want you to know the Ohio wrongful death lawyers at Slater & Zurz are here to help in any way we can.

For more than 30 years, our firm has assisted families across Ohio in seeking justice in wrongful death cases and, in doing so, has recovered hundreds of millions in compensation on their behalf. We fight relentlessly to hold responsible parties accountable for their negligent and wrongful actions, giving our clients closure after the unjust loss of their loved ones.

If you wish to learn more about filing a wrongful death lawsuit, we encourage you to reach out to Slater & Zurz and speak with one of our wrongful death lawyers to discuss your potential case; call (888) 534-4850 today to schedule a FREE, no-obligation case review.