Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Ohio, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by the estate of any person who died as the result of the negligent, intentional or wrongful misconduct of another person, a medical professional, or a company.
A wrongful death lawsuit in Ohio can also be filed where there is no misconduct, but the death occurred because the decedent was mortally injured by an unreasonably dangerous product. A product can be unreasonably dangerous if it was manufactured with a dangerous defect, or because the product’s design is unreasonably dangerous. A product can also be unreasonably dangerous if it is marketed without proper warnings and instructions for the safe handling of the product.
The people who are entitled to compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit are the decedent’s children, surviving spouse or parents. If the decedent died without a surviving spouse, child or parent, then the decedent’s “next of kin” are entitled to compensation. The term “next of kin” means the next closest relatives of the decedent, after accounting for the decedent’s spouse, children and parents (i.e. brother, sister, grandparents, etc.).
Wrongful death lawsuits in Ohio must be filed by the decedent’s estate within two (2) years of the date the decedent died. If it is not filed within that two (2) year period, under Ohio law the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit will be forever extinguished.
Wrongful death lawsuits provide compensation for the following types of losses and damages:
- Loss of support from the reasonably expected earning capacity of the decedent;
- Loss of services of the decedent (e.g. the economic value of the household activities the decedent performed);
- Loss of the society of the decedent, including loss of companionship, consortium, care, assistance, attention, protection, advice, guidance, counsel, instruction, training, and education, suffered by the surviving spouse, dependent children, parents, or next of kin of the decedent;
- Loss of prospective inheritance to the decedent's heirs at law at the time of the decedent's death;
- The mental anguish incurred by the surviving spouse, dependent children, parents, or next of kin of the decedent;
- Funeral and burial expenses.
In addition to filing a wrongful death lawsuit for the damages suffered by the decedent’s family, the estate of a decedent can also file a survival lawsuit under Ohio law. A survival lawsuit seeks compensation for the injuries, damages, pain and suffering the decedent experienced prior to his or her death. For example, if a person suffers a severe burn injury that ultimately leads to that person’s death, a survival lawsuit can be filed to compensate the burn victim for the pain and suffering he or she experienced while still alive. The time for filing a survival action can be as early as one (1) year if it arises from a medical malpractice or medical negligence. Non-medical claims must be filed within two (2) years.
If you think you are entitled to compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one, or if you think a potential survival action should be pursued for the pain and suffering experienced by a deceased loved one, you should contact us as early as possible to make sure the claim is properly investigated and to assure that the a lawsuit is filed within the applicable time limits.