Wrongful death is a civil claim filed against a defendant who has caused someone’s death, either through negligence or as a result of some intentional action. Wrongful death claims allow the estate and/or those close to a deceased person to file a lawsuit against the party who is legally liable for the death. When an unexpected death occurs, families are left with daunting bills ranging from medical bills to burial and funeral expenses. In a wrongful death action, the family looks to be compensated for their loss. The law varies from state to state but ordinarily, the immediate family—children, spouses, siblings, and parents, are permitted to file a wrongful death claim.

When is a wrongful death claim applicable?

Wrongful death claims may result from personal injury accidents, automobile accidents, pedestrian accidents, pharmaceutical errors, medical malpractice, vicious or and dangerous animal attacks, dangerous and defective products or work accident. Automobile fatalities are the most common wrongful death claims seen to date followed by medical malpractice claims as the second.

Who can file a wrongful death claim?

Each state has its own set of laws controlling wrongful death claims, and the legal and procedural rules vary from state to state. In Ohio, the time period (statute of limitations) to bring a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of death. Examples of scenarios and who can file the claims are: a spouse can file a claim on behalf of his or her deceased spouse, parents of minors file a claim if one of their children is killed, and minors can collect compensation over the death of a parent. States tend to disagree when a more distant relative files a claim.

What must be proven?

The surviving member or their legal representative must prove the four key elements to win a wrongful death claim:

  • Negligence – There must be proof that the death of their loved one was caused (in part or in whole) by the recklessness, carelessness, or negligent actions of the defending party.
  • Breach of Duty – It must be proved that the defendant in the claim owed a duty to the deceased victim.
  • Causation – It must be proved that the defendant’s negligence caused their loved one’s death.
  • Damages – The damages refer to the physical and emotional injuries ‘pain and suffering’ of their loved one’s death, funeral and burial costs, medical treatment costs, and loss of deceased loved one’s income.

The surviving member or their legal representative must prove these points and provide sufficient evidence along with the testimony of an expert witness, in order to bring a strong convincing case against the defendant.

If your loved one has recently experienced sudden and wrongful death, it would be wise to hire a tested and trusted attorney, or personal injury law firm, to present your case in court. Schedule a consultation with our firm and let’s discuss the details of your case and how you can seek justice for your loved one!