A person's wrongful death is often an avoidable event. They may have gone to a medical provider for a general surgery and suffered from complications from medical errors. They might have been driving when they were t-boned by another driver. Regardless of the cause, their death shouldn't have happened and is now something you can file a lawsuit for.
A wrongful-death lawsuit is designed to help victims' families get compensation. There is a lower standard of proof in these cases, which means that even if there is no criminal case, the family and loved ones still have the opportunity to seek compensation. The lower standard of proof is very important, since criminal cases are sometimes difficult to prove.
For example, if the criminal case is unable to prove that the person driving a vehicle was intoxicated, the case might not result in a conviction. However, that doesn't negate that the person was negligent in some way, so you can still pursue a claim despite the lack of criminal charges. On the other hand, if criminal charges are pressed and a conviction is made, you have an even stronger case against the person responsible for your loved one's death.
What kinds of damages can you receive in a wrongful-death lawsuit?
In a wrongful-death lawsuit, you can receive a pecuniary award. A pecuniary award is an award for financial injuries suffered as a result of the person's death. The court includes in these injuries:
- The loss of support
- Loss of the prospect of inheritance
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of services
Laws require that any damages awarded be fair and just compensation for any financial injuries that occur because of the individual's death.
Other damages you can seek are punitive damages. Punitive damages are special, because they are an additional punishment for the person who caused the incident. There are limits on the amount of compensation you can receive in Ohio when it comes to punitive damages. Usually, the damages can't exceed two times the compensatory damages. There is a state cap of $350,000 for punitive damages as of 2016. Attorney fees awarded to the claim aren't considered part of the $350,000 cap, which means that it may be awarded in addition to all other expense awards.
If your loved one is killed, it is a devastating truth to come to accept that nothing is going to bring them back. However, a wrongful death claim can help you and your loved ones stabilize your finances and get the most out of this tragic situation.