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Your rights when a drunk or distracted driver kills a loved one

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2020 | Wrongful Death |

Motor vehicles are incredibly dangerous, but they play a major role in modern American life. Too many drivers take for granted the fact that they arrive safely at their destination when they drive, leaving them to engage and increasingly dangerous and irresponsible behaviors.

For example, a driver who gets behind the wheel after having a few drinks, taking narcotic pain medication or consuming illegal drugs likely knows their driving skills won’t be as good as they otherwise would because of their chemical impairment. People who choose to text, post to social media or email at the wheel similarly choose to ignore the risk for short-term personal benefits.

When these individuals cause collisions that claimed the lives of others, it is possible for those left behind to take civil action against the irresponsible driver responsible for their tragic loss.

Who can initiate wrongful death lawsuits in Ohio?

In many states, only surviving dependents and family members have the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the party responsible for the fatality. Only in situations where family members don’t exist or choose not to bring a wrongful death action can a representative of the estate then choose to do so instead.

In Ohio, however, the law specifically authorizes a representative of the estate to be the one to bring the wrongful death suit against the responsible party. The claim that the representative of the estate makes can include the financial and social losses suffered by spouses, children and parents of the deceased party. In most cases, those are the only family members who have the legal right to claim certain losses under Ohio’s wrongful death statute.

Are there time restrictions on wrongful death claims?

Most personal injury claims are subject to a statute of limitations that prevents someone from bringing an old case to the courts. In cases involving wrongful death, the Ohio statute generally requires that the representative filing the lawsuit must do so within two years from the date of death.

However, there may be some exceptions to this rule, such as when ongoing criminal investigations uncover a connection between an individual and a fatality after the window already closed. If you believe your family may fall in this legal great area, closer legal analysis of the situation is likely necessary.

What compensation can you claim in wrongful death cases?

When you file a wrongful death claim in Ohio, there are two general categories of compensation you can seek. The first consists of provable financial consequences, such as property damage, medical costs, funeral expenses, lost wages and lost employment benefits.

The second category of compensation will involve the impact of the death on surviving family members, including loss of support, loss of services provided by the deceased, loss of the death on surviving family members, including loss of support, loss of services provided by the deceased, loss of prospective inheritance potential future inheritance, loss of care/companionship, and the pain and suffering your family endured as a result of your unexpected grief.