Copyright © 2022 Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduced with Permission.
Because the client was able to retain the services of our attorneys, reaching out to the opposing party in the Toledo wrongful death car accident case was straightforward. Attorneys familiar with these cases and proceedings are no strangers to working with other legal professionals. Much the same, if you lost a loved one because of a negligent person’s actions, you need to consider the employ of a seasoned attorney who could act as a liaison between opposing parties and you.
When people come to our office, the insurance company may or may not have contacted the family of the deceased. The reason they often wait is simply to allow the family a period to grieve and to make arrangements for the burial or disposition of their loved one. In the client’s case, our office contacted the insurance company and started the process of opening their claim and determining how much was available under the liability carrier’s policy.
When reaching out to the opposing party in the Toledo wrongful death car accident case, we specifically asked for a declaration page, which is usually the first page in an automobile insurance policy and lists the policy limits and the different coverages that are available under that specific policy.
Fortunately, we received the declaration page just a few days after we requested it, reviewed it, and shared that information with the client.
In this particular case, we did not have a discussion about filing the claim with the court right away. Most wrongful death cases are settled out of court rather quickly, especially if it is a clear liability case like the client’s.
Importantly for all Toledo wrongful death cases, Toledo is a city in the State of Ohio, and the statute of limitations in wrongful death cases is two years from the date of death. Our office tracks that to make sure that we are not coming up on the statute of limitations. In the deceased’s specific case, the widowed spouse came to us just a week after his passing, so we felt comfortable that we would have the case resolved well before that two-year time limit expired.
If an attorney misses or fails to file a lawsuit within the prescribed statute of limitations period, that is a cause for malpractice on behalf of the attorney, so we take great care in documenting all of our statutes for every case. We have a tickler calendar which reminds us when the date is a year away, then six months, and then weekly and daily as the date approaches. Everyone working on the case is made aware when we are getting closer to that date.
In every wrongful death case, a person has to open an estate on behalf of the deceased person and, if that deceased person had assets at the time of their death, they would have to distribute those assets pursuant to their will or pursuant to the rules of the descent and distribution statute in their estate if they did not have a will. Here, the deceased did not have a will, and Ohio law distributes everything to a surviving spouse at the time of death. We opened the estate and listed the house as the major asset. There was a small bank account with a small amount of money. All of those assets went to our client after the appropriate paperwork was completed. Once the case was concluded, she was the property owner of the house and recovered the monies left in a bank account from when her husband passed away.
The biggest factor in this case was the mortgage that was in place on the house. If the client had not come to our office or if she had decided to try to handle this matter on her own, she may have found herself in a position in which she was living in a house that had never been properly transferred into her name. At any point in time, the mortgage company could have come back and either instituted an action to try to sell the property out from under her even though she resided there. Technically, the mortgage company is the legal owner of that property once the person listed on the document is deceased and there is no will in place to transfer that property. The client needed a legal representative to help her navigate those waters and figure out what she needed to do to make sure that she was the proper, legal owner of the property.
The facts of the incident itself, the documentation created by the crash report, and the responding EMS workers really helped build our case. There were some witnesses who had overheard the facts leading up to the deceased’s leaving the event with this other person, and they were aware that the ride that had been scheduled prior to his attending the event fell through due to car trouble. They knew that he had entered into this other individual’s vehicle in the hopes that this new driver would drop him off at home. There was another set of witnesses who were aware that the individual who drove the victim home had been drinking that evening. All of those things helped us in obtaining the policy limits for the client on this claim.
In other cases where more money would be available, the calculation of potential damages would have taken place. In this case, we only had $100,000 available under the automobile liability policy and the defendant was not personally collectible, meaning that she did not own property in her own name and she was independently wealthy, so there was no personal claim against her that was viable. We never needed to calculate the total damages because we were working with a very limited amount of money. In a perfect world, there would have been much more money available because the victim’s claim is, of course, worth much more than $100,000.
Reaching out to the opposing party in the Toledo wrongful death car accident case was fairly straightforward. With many wrongful death cases, the blame is often ascribed to a wrongdoer easily and settlements outside of court are quite common. However, that is not always the case, and if you wish to hold a wrongdoer accountable after losing a loved one, you may need to enlist the services of a legal representative. Reach out today to start a consultation.