Losing a family member or loved one unexpectedly is an awful experience that many people never get over. The situation is even more tragic when the death is caused by someone else.
Although nothing can bring your loved one back, you may want to hold the other party accountable for their actions.
Wrongful death is brought in civil court. You can pursue criminal charges and wrongful death since they are brought in different courts, but if the actions that caused the death are not enough to justify criminal charges, pursuing a wrongful death claim is still an option.
Before filing for wrongful death, you should know what a wrongful death claim means and what you must prove to succeed.
The legal standard for wrongful death
Ohio’s wrongful death law states that a wrongful death is a death that occurs due to another person’s wrongful act, neglect or default.
Wrongful acts are typically intentional acts of aggression or violence that led to someone’s death, such as assault or battery.
Neglect is usually associated with the legal concept of negligence. This happens when someone fails in their legal duty of care and that failure causes a death.
Common examples of acts of negligence that can be grounds for wrongful death actions include defective products, drunk driving and medical malpractice.
Additionally, the law specifies that a wrongful death claim is appropriate if the deceased party would have had the right to file a personal injury claim if they had survived.
Therefore, a good way to determine if you have a valid claim for wrongful death is to examine if your loved one would have had a claim for personal injury if they survived. If you believe they would have, under the law, you will likely have grounds for a wrongful death claim.
Ohio has a two-year statute of limitations
You must act quickly when deciding if you want to file a claim to make sure you file it within the statute of limitations. Ohio’s statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years. This means you must file your claim within two years of your loved one’s death.
While there are some scenarios where the statute of limitations could be delayed or suspended, there is no guarantee of this, so you should make sure to file your claim within the two-year period.
If your claim is filed outside of the two-year statute of limitations period, the court will most likely dismiss the claim. This means you and your family lose out on your chance to seek financial compensation for your loved one’s death.
The personal representative files the wrongful death claim
The financial compensation you ask for in your wrongful death claim is called damages. Although the damages are based on the losses suffered by the victim’s spouse, children or other family members, the victim’s personal representative must file the wrongful death claim.
Once you have concluded you have grounds for wrongful death and meet the statute of limitations, you are ready to file your claim. There are various steps and requirements in the process and it is always best to have guidance.