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Wrongful Death

Columbus Wrongful Death Lawyer Acting as Your Advocate During a Difficult Time

Wrongful Death report and gavel in a court.

It is always difficult to lose a loved one. When the death was caused by another person’s negligence or wrongdoing, surviving family members may feel confused and overwhelmed by the legal process. It is common for those left behind to feel unsure of what steps to take next. A Columbus wrongful death lawyer at Malek & Malek Law Firm can help you and your family gain adequate justice for your loss.

Ohio’s wrongful death statute, which is codified at Section 2125.01 et seq. of the Ohio Revised Code, permits an individual to file a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased person when the death is a result of negligence or a wrongful act. It is a distinct cause of action that provides monetary compensation for damages suffered after a death occurs. Some common causes of action include medical malpractice, car accidents, elder abuse, and defective products. Anytime a death was caused by another’s willful or negligent act, there is potential for a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death case is very complicated, as such, it necessitates a competent and caring Columbus wrongful death attorney.

Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim in Ohio? 

Ohio law specifies that a wrongful death lawsuit must be brought by the fiduciary of the deceased’s estate. Wrongful death cases are filed by the estate representative on behalf of the victim’s heirs and beneficiaries. This usually means a spouse, children, or other close family members. If there is a will, the executor will represent the estate in the wrongful death case. In the absence of a will, the court-appointed administrator is responsible for bringing a wrongful death case.

To bring a successful wrongful death claim, the estate must prove that the death was wrongful. This involves demonstrating that it was caused by negligence. It must also be shown that the death would not likely have occurred had the wrongdoer not committed a negligent act. Once that is established, the estate must show what damages the survivors have incurred.

A Columbus Wrongful Death Lawyer Explains Statute of Limitations

Most legal claims, except for some criminal acts such as murder, have a set period before which you must file your claim. In other words, if you don’t file your claim within X number of years, you will lose your right to file any claim at all. These periods are known as “statutes of limitations.”

The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Ohio is set by statute at two years from the date the victim died or from the date it was discovered that the death was wrongful. It’s always a good idea to file your claim as soon as possible, not only to satisfy the statute of limitations but also to prevent witnesses from forgetting exactly what they saw and to gather other types of evidence that may mysteriously disappear.

A Columbus Wrongful Death Lawyer in Ohio Explains Fatal Work-Related Accident Cases

Workers’ compensation law provides financial benefits to any worker and their dependents when the worker is injured or killed on the job. However, as a trade-off, workers’ compensation protects employers from being sued for job-related injuries or deaths, even if the employer was negligent or contributed to a dangerous workplace environment. In other words, workers’ compensation benefits are the only remedy an injured worker has, even if the employer was negligent in causing the injury.

However, if the workplace death was caused by a third party, such as an independent general contractor, subcontractor, or defective equipment manufacturer or seller, the surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against such third party rather than the employer. Unfortunately, this rule is complex and includes various exceptions. That’s why it’s important to immediately contact a Columbus wrongful death lawyer at Malek Law Firm to help you understand and enforce your rights.

To file a wrongful death suit, surviving family members must prove that:

  • Their loved one died due to someone else’s negligence or intentional act (such as a negligent equipment manufacturer).
  • The family has suffered harm because of their loved one’s death, including economic damages such as lost income or earning capacity, as well as non-economic damages such as lost partnership, reduced quality of life, pain and suffering, and so forth.

This is particularly important because workers’ compensation does not provide benefits for these types of non-economic damages.

Wrongful Death Claims vs. Survival Claims

A wrongful death claim focuses on the family of the deceased person and allows close family members to file a civil suit for damages. In other words, wrongful death claims allow the family member of the deceased person to recover for damages caused to them by the loss of the deceased.

A survival claim (typically known as a “survival action”) focuses on the suffering of the deceased person rather than the grief and financial losses of the family. They are similar to what the deceased person could have recovered in a personal injury lawsuit if they had survived. Any compensation is dispersed through the deceased person’s estate rather than distributed directly to surviving family members.

Causes of Wrongful Death Liability in Ohio

In Ohio, the most common accidents leading to a wrongful death lawsuit  are similar to those of most other states and include:

Fatal Car Accidents

Each year, car accidents claim tens of thousands of lives in Ohio and across the United States. Tragically, the vast majority of these accidents are avoidable. Driver negligence is the most common factor in fatal car accidents, and vehicle and road defects play a role in many fatal car accidents as well.

Our wrongful death lawyers handle fatal car accident claims against auto insurance companies, drivers’ employers, bars and restaurants, vehicle manufacturers, government agencies, and other entities. While most successful fatal car accident claims settle out of court, we will not hesitate to take your family’s case to court if necessary.

Wrongful Death Claims Involving Criminal Violence

If you have lost a loved one to criminal violence, your family could possibly have a claim against a variety of different parties. While one option is to pursue a claim against the perpetrator himself or herself, individuals who commit fatal acts of violence often do not have the resources needed to adequately compensate victims’ families for their losses. When engaged to represent families in wrongful death cases involving criminal violence, we examine all possible grounds for seeking financial compensation—from selling a gun to someone who is ineligible to providing negligent security.

Dangerous Premises

Falls account for more than 20 percent of all preventable fatal injuries according to the National Safety Council (NSC), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that an older adult dies from a fall every 20 minutes. Many of these falls are the result of dangerous premises.

Several premises-related risks can lead to fatal falls. This includes everything from loose handrails and malfunctioning escalators to slippery surfaces and walkway obstructions in nursing homes. Regardless of the circumstances involved, if you have lost a loved one in a fatal fall in Ohio, you should speak with a lawyer about your family’s legal rights promptly.

Defective Products

Hand writing inscription Product Recall with marker

Product defects are to blame for a significant number of fatal accidents each year. When we buy products, we expect them to be safe for their intended use. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Companies routinely recall dangerous and defective products, but sadly their recalls often come too late. Our lawyers represent Ohio families in wrongful death cases involving all types of defective products, including (but not limited to):

  • Cars, motorcycles, trucks and SUVs
  • Children’s toys, clothing and furniture
  • Equipment and machinery
  • Foods and medicines
  • Home appliances
  • Medical devices
  • Playground equipment
  • Power tools

Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents are 29 times more likely to result in death than accidents that solely involve cars, trucks and SUVs. Even when motorcycle riders are wearing full riding gear and observing the rules of the road, this is not necessarily enough to protect them from the consequences of driver negligence, motorcycle defects, and other dangers.

Just like car accidents, when motorcycle accidents result in death, victims’ families have several potential sources of financial recovery. As your family’s lawyers, we will assess all possible claims, and we will pursue a strategy focused on helping your family recover maximum compensation.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents

Pedestrian and bicycle accidents also result in death at disproportionately high rates. If your spouse, child, parent or another member of your family was killed while walking, jogging or riding a bike in Ohio, you should hire a wrongful death lawyer to determine what claim (or claims) your family can file. While many fatal pedestrian and bicycle accident cases involve claims against negligent drivers, there are other possibilities as well.

Truck Accidents

When 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, box trucks and other large commercial trucks collide with passenger vehicles, occupants of these passenger vehicles are often helpless to protect themselves from fatal injuries. When trucking companies are responsible for fatal accidents, they deserve to be held accountable, and family members deserve justice for their loved one’s untimely death.

Our lawyers handle fatal truck accident cases throughout Ohio. Whether your loved one’s accident happened on I-70, I-71 or in downtown Columbus, we can use our experience to pursue all available claims on your family’s behalf.

Our Columbus Wrongful Death Lawyers Can Also Assist with Claims for Death Benefits

No one should face fatal injury risks at work. Yet, each year thousands of people suffer fatal injuries on the job. If you have lost a loved one in a fatal work accident, your family’s legal rights will depend, in part, on whether your loved one qualified for workers’ compensation benefits.

Eligible families can obtain death benefits under Ohio’s workers’ compensation law. But, since these benefits do not cover all of the financial and non-financial costs of a spouse’s or other family member’s untimely death, it is important to assess your family’s other options as well. We have significant experience handling serious and fatal work accident cases, and we can use this experience to seek the full financial recovery your family deserves. 

Remember, a Columbus wrongful death attorney can speak to you about any accident that resulted in the untimely death of a loved one. Your situation is unique and may differ from the common examples provided above.

How A Columbus Wrongful Death Lawyer At Malek Law Firm Can Help

A death in the family is by definition a very painful and stressful time. Nonetheless, the future of the remaining family members may depend on being able to collect all of the damages your family is entitled to. You only have one chance to secure your future.

A Columbus wrongful death lawyer at Malek Law Firm can help you, among other things:

  • Review your claim facts and help you decide what the best options for your particular set of facts may be, which may include negotiation or wrongful death and/or survival claims,
  • Review and analyze all of your existing documentation and advise you as to what documents still need to be obtained and how to obtain them,
  • Act as your representative with your insurance company,
  • Act as your representative with your employer if a work-related injury or illness was involved,
  • Advise you as to exactly what steps you should take regarding any workers’ comp claims,
  • Examine your potential claims and advise you as to what claims are most appropriate for your particular facts and situation,
  • Prepare any legal claims, such as wrongful death claims or survivor claims,
  • Negotiate a fair settlement for you or bring your claim(s) to court,
  • Act as your attorney in any lawsuit you decide to bring,
  • Bring all of your related claims to a successful conclusion, and
  • Offer your practical advice, compassion, and understanding. 

What Compensation is Available in an Ohio Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In a successful wrongful death claim, the family members may recover the following types of damages when you work with a Columbus wrongful death lawyer at Malek Law Firm: economical and non-economical. Economic damages, which include the value of the financial contributions the deceased would have made to the survivors if he or she didn’t die, may include:

  • Medical and funeral expenses connected to the death
  • Loss of the victim’s expected earnings
  • Loss of benefits, such as pension plans or medical coverage
  • Loss of an inheritance caused by an untimely death, and
  • The value of the goods and services that a victim would have provided

Non-economic damages may also be recovered, including:

  • Damages for the survivors’ mental anguish or pain and suffering
  • Loss of the care, protection, guidance, advice, training, and nurturing from the deceased
  • Loss of love, society, and companionship from the deceased, and
  • Loss of consortium from a deceased spouse

Finally, the estate may be able to recover punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and interest.

In a successful survival claim, the family members may recover the following types of damages:

  • Medical and hospital expenses that are related to the injury
  • Pain and suffering of the deceased caused by the injury
  • Lost wages from the time of the injury until the time of death
  • Emotional distress caused by the injury
  • Funeral expenses and estate administration costs

What does “wrongful death” mean?

A death is considered “wrongful” under Ohio law if it results from someone else’s negligence, intentional misconduct or other violation of the law. For example, many wrongful death claims involving fatal car accidents are based on driver negligence. Family members who lose loved ones to crime can hire a Columbus wrongful death lawyer to file a claim as well, as can those who lose loved ones in accidents involving defective products and fatal animal attacks.

Who can file a wrongful death claim?

In Ohio, only the victim’s personal representative has the ability to file a wrongful death claim. The personal representative files a claim on behalf of the victim’s estate, and any damages awarded (or obtained via settlement) will be distributed in accordance with the victim’s estate plan. If the victim did not have an estate plan at the time of death, then any compensation received will be distributed to eligible family members under Ohio’s intestate succession laws.

What can I expect in our initial legal consultation for my wrong death claim?

When you schedule an initial legal consultation with a Columbus wrongful death lawyer, your lawyer will explain everything you need to know in order to make informed decisions about your next steps. Your lawyer will also provide a preliminary assessment of your legal rights and help you decide whether to move forward with conducting a thorough investigation.

Can you sue for wrongful death in Ohio?

Yes, you can sue for wrongful death in Ohio in many circumstances. If you have lost a loved one under any circumstances in which you believe that someone else (or a company) may be responsible, you should schedule a free initial consultation with a Columbus wrongful death lawyer promptly.

What are the damages for wrongful death in Ohio?

In wrongful death cases in Ohio, the victim’s personal representative can seek to recover several types of damages on behalf of the victim’s estate. These include damages for both financial losses (i.e., medical expenses, funeral expenses and lost earnings) and non-financial losses (i.e., pain and suffering, loss of care and protection, and loss of consortium). When you hire a lawyer at Malek & Malek Law Firm to handle your family’s wrongful death claim, your lawyer will carefully calculate the damages that are available based on the unique circumstances of your loved one’s untimely passing.

Who is entitled to wrongful death benefits in Ohio?

The answer to this question depends on whether the victim had an estate plan at the time of his or her death. If so, then the estate plan will determine how any wrongful death benefits that are recovered will be distributed. If not, then the distribution of any benefits recovered will be determined based on Ohio’s intestate succession law. This means that the victim’s spouse and/or children will be entitled to financial compensation in most (but not all) cases.

Are wrongful death settlements taxable in Ohio?

Wrongful death settlements generally are not considered to be a form of income, and this means that they generally are not taxable. However, there are some exceptions. When you hire an experienced Columbus wrongful death lawyer to handle your family’s claim, your lawyer can help mitigate any potential tax consequences to the fullest extent possible.

What are wrongful death suits typically filed against?

Wrongful death suits are typically filed against insurance companies and other companies that are liable for surviving family members’ losses. For example, filing a wrongful death claim after a fatal car accident in Ohio will involve dealing with the auto insurance companies in most cases. But, there are several other possibilities, and it is important to work with an experienced Columbus wrongful death lawyer who can file the right claim (or claims) on your family’s behalf.

How long do you have to file a claim against an estate in Ohio?

As a general rule, family members have up to six months to file a claim against a loved one’s estate. However, there are several exceptions—including exceptions that apply when it takes time to obtain financial compensation for wrongful death.

Who is considered next of kin in Ohio?

Usually, a fatal accident victim’s spouse, children or parents will be considered his or her next of kin. If an accident victim does not have a surviving spouse, children or parents, then more-distant relatives may be considered next of kin. While this is important for certain purposes, there are additional factors involved in determining who is entitled to financial compensation for a family member’s wrongful death in Ohio. A Columbus wrongful death lawyer at Malek & Malek Law Firm can explain everything you need to know. 

Your Columbus Wrongful Death Lawyer Will Fight For Compensation 

Money can never really make anyone completely whole again after such a devastating loss, but the law attempts to compensate family members for the pain and suffering endured as a result of wrongful death. Damages include loss of companionship, services, prospective inheritance, and support. It is also possible to receive compensation for medical bills, funeral costs, and mental anguish suffered by survivors.

Unlike personal injury lawsuits, damages in wrongful death cases are immune from estate tax and creditors’ claims. Instead, compensation is distributed directly to the estate’s beneficiaries and there is no limit on the amount of damages the estate can recover. 

The wrongful death lawyers at Malek Law Firm will aggressively and compassionately strive to bring justice for your loss. We’ll work for what you deserve in workers’ compensation and personal injury cases.

Contact the Malek Law Firm for a Free Consultation

For additional information regarding our quality legal representation services, or to schedule a free case evaluation, call us today at 888-444-7440 or contact us online. Let Malek Law Firm be your secret weapon in cases of workers’ compensation and personal injury.