Why You Need a Wrongful Death Attorney
Losing a loved one is absolutely devastating—especially true if the loss was unexpected and preventable, or caused by another person.
When a loved one passes away due to negligence or even intentional harm, surviving family members also often feel the need for justice. Justice can sometimes be accomplished through the criminal justice system. However, what many don’t know is that justice can also be found through a wrongful death claim in civil court.
What is a wrongful death claim? When can you bring a wrongful death claim to court? And why might you need a wrongful death attorney?
Today, we discuss all you need to know about this type of claim as well as how a skilled attorney can help you seek justice for your loved one.
What is wrongful death?
A wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury lawsuit. It’s brought up against a person (or party) whose misconduct or negligence caused someone else’s death.
A wrongful death claim can help surviving family members hold the person who caused their loved one’s death responsible. If the claim is successful, the court may award damages including:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of financial support, according to reasonably expected earnings from the deceased
- Loss of services from the deceased
- Loss of prospective inheritance
- Loss of companionship, protection, guidance, and instruction from the deceased
- Mental anguish suffered
Funeral and burial expenses, future wages, and future inheritance are damages that can be calculated or estimated. Loss of companionship and mental anguish could never be measured in dollars, of course. Since emotional distress is subjective, the damages awarded depends on the facts of the case.
When can someone bring a wrongful death claim?
Under Ohio law, a wrongful death claim can be brought “when the death of a person…caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default…would have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued.” This essentially means that, if the deceased person had not passed away, he or she could have filed a personal injury lawsuit. Because a deceased person cannot file a lawsuit, Ohio law allows a family member file for damages on his or her behalf.
Like in personal injury claims, a wrongful death claim may be filed in situations like medical malpractice, car or motorcycle accidents, falls, accidents caused by defective products, etc. A wrongful death lawsuit may even be filed following a criminal action.
The most iconic example of a wrongful death case involves the O.J. Simpson trial. Simpson was acquitted of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in a criminal trial. However, this did not prevent the surviving family from filing a civil lawsuit against him. The family won their wrongful death claim and was awarded damages.
This is possible because criminal and civil courts have different standards for proof. Because criminal trials involve possible incarceration, the standard of proof is higher (“beyond a reasonable doubt”). But because civil trials involve money, the standard is lowered to a “preponderance of evidence.” (In layman’s terms, this means that the evidence is, more likely than not, in favor of one side.)
Why do you need a wrongful death attorney?
A wrongful death lawyer can be an enormous help in the difficult time following a loved one’s death.
Having an experienced attorney on your side can lift the burden of dealing with a wrongful death alone. An experienced attorney can perform important tasks including:
- Investigating the circumstances that led to your loved one’s death. In situations that aren’t always cut and dry—like medical malpractice and accidents—an investigation can help determine what really happened and who was at fault.
- Determining legal liability. Following an investigation, a wrongful death attorney can determine who can be held legally and financially responsible for the death.
- Advising you of your rights. A knowledgeable attorney will advise you of your rights and help you understand your options.
- Filing a lawsuit on your behalf. Your attorney can handle all of the details and aspects involved in filing a claim, so you don’t have to.
In addition, using a wrongful death attorney can increase your odds of success in your claim. A skilled attorney will have the knowledge and experience needed to handle your claim and will do everything in their power to achieve a favorable outcome.
No amount of money can ever replace a loved one. However, a wrongful death claim may help your family find justice, some sense of closure, and financial security.
If you have questions about filing a wrongful death claim on behalf of your loved one, we can help. The experienced and compassionate wrongful death attorneys at our firm are here to answer your questions and guide you.
Contact us today for a free consultation at one of our convenient locations. We have offices in Cincinnati, Dayton, Hamilton, and Middletown to serve you.