Under state law, wrongful death suits are brought in the name of the executor of the decedent’s estate in the name of various beneficiaries. A beneficiary is someone who is entitled to financial compensation should the case be proven.
In Ohio, beneficiaries in Toledo wrongful death cases are relatives of the decedents, such as the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, parents, and siblings. If a court had previously determined that they had abandoned a minor child, they may not be a beneficiary in a wrongful death claim should the child die.
The probate court judge determines how a settlement or award is to be distributed among the potential beneficiaries based on the relationship to the decedent and the degree of loss to the beneficiary. A compassionate wrongful death lawyer can help you begin your lawsuit on behalf of your loss.
Damages Available to Beneficiaries
Though it is little consolation to people who have lost a loved one, the way the court system compensates the beneficiaries of a decedent is by awarding money. The term damages is used to refer to the various reasons for which financial compensation can be awarded – are available for the estate for the damages of the decedent and to the beneficiaries. The estate of the decedent can be compensated for the medical bills incurred to treat the decedent prior to death and for the pain and suffering the decedent experienced as a result of the accident or wrongdoing.
Under state law, the following damages are available to the beneficiaries are loss of support, services, society, prospective inheritance and mental anguish. Loss of support refers to the lost earning capacity of the decedent had they did not die. The factors taken into consideration for loss of support would be the salary at the time of the decedent’s death as well as the amount of money the decedent reasonably could have been expected to earn in the future had the death not occurred. Charts called life tables are used to calculate how long the decedent would have been expected to live based on such factors as age at the time of death, gender, and race.
What is Loss of Services and Loss of Society?
Damages for loss of services are available to beneficiaries in Toledo wrongful death cases. It is a sort of vague claim, but essentially the law allows beneficiaries to collect compensation for services the decedent provided the beneficiaries. If someone was killed as the result of another’s negligence. If the deceased once provided daycare for someone’s child, that parent could seek compensation for the money it cost them to secure daycare. That is not to say that the estate must show all the claimed lost services are attached to a specific dollar amount. The jury can determine a dollar figure for each lost service.
Under loss of society, beneficiaries can seek financial compensation for such things as the loss of companionship, care, assistance, protection, advice, guidance, and education provided by the decedent. It is difficult to put a dollar figure on these types of damages because they are not easily quantifiable. For instance, one cannot look in a book to find a figure that would fairly compensate a spouse deprived of decades of a future with their deceased partner.
Defining Mental Anguish
Family members can be awarded compensation for the mental anguish they endured as a result of the loss of their loved one. Like loss of society, this may be a hard figure to quantify because there’s no formula for setting a dollar value on one’s pain. Nonetheless, it can account for a significant amount in a damages award because most people can relate to the grief experienced as the result of the death of a family member.
Speaking with an Attorney
The job of an attorney to place a dollar amount on the loss of a decedent’s society and to justify that amount with a reasoned argument to a jury. Though it is not readily quantifiable, it is certainly a huge and legitimate loss to beneficiaries in Toledo wrongful death cases. Meaning, it is a loss for which they deserve to be compensated. Under loss of prospective inheritance, beneficiaries can seek financial compensation for the inheritance they might have received from the decedent had the decedent lived a normal lifespan.
Making a case for mental anguish is similar to asking for pain and suffering damages in a routine personal injury case. A wrongful death attorney could ask the jurors to award money based on the anguish endured over a set time period such as months or years. Your lawyer may take a different approach by not suggesting a formula and simply asking the jurors to determine a fair figure to compensate family members for the mental anguish they have suffered.