Losing a family member is probably one of the hardest moments in a person’s life. Not only are you trying to figure out how to emotionally move forward but now you may be facing unexpected expenses such as funeral costs.
If the person that passed away was the primary earner in the family, you are probably also concerned about how your family will recover financially. Thankfully, Ohio law recognizes that if someone has passed away because of another person’s negligent actions then their estate can sue that person to recover for that loss, with assistance from a skilled personal injury attorney.
After any money is received from that action it will be put into the deceased person’s estate. Then, the money will be distributed based on Ohio’s inheritance statute or through the person’s will. Since you are already reeling from the loss of a family member, you should speak with a Swanton wrongful death lawyer as soon as you can so you can get your family on the path to recovering from this painful loss.
Swanton Wrongful Death Statute
Ohio state law allows an estate of a deceased individual to sue another person if the death happened because of someone else’s wrongful conduct or negligence. This will include accidental deaths and purposeful acts such as murder.
To start a wrongful death case, the executor or administrator of the estate will have to start proceedings. In some of these cases, there may be a criminal case pending as well but that will not stop an individual from proceeding with their civil case. However, sometimes it may be to a person’s benefit to wait until the criminal case is over.
Standards of Proof
The standard of proof in a criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt, but there is a lower standard in civil cases called the preponderance of the evidence (meaning more likely than not). So, if the criminal case found the other person guilty it will be easier to use that to recover in a civil case. Even if the person is found not guilty for a criminal trial, the proof used may still meet the civil standard. The most famous example of this is the O.J. Simpson case.
For a wrongful death suit based on negligence, the Swanton wrongful death attorney will aim to prove the four elements of negligence. These elements are:
- There was a duty of care
- That duty of care was breached
- Causation, both actual and proximate cause
Generally, people owe each other a duty of care to act as a sensible person would act under similar circumstances. This duty is breached when the person fails to act reasonably. Actual causation means that if it had not been for the other person’s negligent act, then the deceased person would have never died.
Proximate cause looks at foreseeability — that the person who died and the way they died was foreseeable based on the actions of the negligent person. Also, it looks at whether there was an intervening cause of the death and the other person’s negligent act. Finally, the last element requires that there were damages which in this kind of case would be the person’s death and the consequences of the death.
Talking to a Swanton Wrongful Death Attorney
Ohio has strict deadlines under which a person has to bring their claim to court. For a wrongful death claim, individuals have two years from the date of the death to sue the other party. However, if the wrongful death claim is based on a product liability claim, a person may have up to ten years from the day the product was used or purchased. To find out exactly which deadline applies to your situation and how you can move forward with your case, you should speak to a Swanton wrongful death lawyer as soon as you can.