Wrongful death claims are common in Ohio following an auto accident where negligence is present. Wrongful death claims can arise from a variety of reasons, including truck accidents or reckless driving cases, but many are the result of a DUI accident. Excessive speeding or wanton endangerment can result in wrongful death litigation as well. Details of the case matter significantly in wrongful death claims, and the mere fact that someone died in an accident is not always strong enough evidence to justify an affirmative verdict from a sympathetic jury. Awards are effectively a form of punitive damages intended as financial recovery for mental anguish and financial support impact for dependent family members.
Who can file a wrongful death action
Wrongful death claims in Ohio can only be filed by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. If they were married, the spouse automatically becomes the individual with standing to sue. If they are single, next in line would be dependent children. In other circumstances, the court will appoint a representative who will represent the estate as well as the affected family members.
Possible damages in a wrongful death action are not the same as in a personal injury lawsuit. In Ohio, they are actually two different cases even though they are connected. Proceeds from a wrongful death action are essentially punitive damages based on the egregious behavior of the defendant. They can include financial recovery for loss of consortium, loss of future financial support for dependent children, and loss of a relationship with a parent.
While parents are only allowed standing to sue with the death of a dependent child, they can represent the estate in some instances. However, financial awards tend to be substantially less than a typical claim, and insurance protection only applies to the liability limits of the defendant’s auto policy.