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What types of damages can be sought in wrongful death cases?

Typically, in a personal injury case the more serious the injuries suffered, the greater the compensation. At the most extreme end of the spectrum is wrongful death.

In a wrongful death case, the victim died as a result of another person’s negligence. Common examples of wrongful death incidents include fatal drunk driving accidents, trucking accidents and medical malpractice.

What these tragedies have in common is that the deceased would still be alive if not for the actions of someone else. In Ohio, the person or business that caused the victim’s death is liable for the harm they caused the victim, as well as the harm suffered by the victim’s family.

What families can seek in wrongful death litigation

Since the victim cannot bring a wrongful death lawsuit themselves, their estate’s executor must do it, along with surviving family members, such as the spouse, children and parents. Damages the estate can claim include the pain and suffering the deceased endured due to the defendant’s negligence before passing away.

Another basis for compensation in a wrongful death claim is known as pecuniary damages. This refers to the family’s loss of the deceased’s support and services, as well as the potential future inheritance they likely lost had the victim lived longer. Families can also recover for the deceased’s funeral and medical expenses.

Finally, family members can recover for non-economic damages related to the death.  These damages include mental anguish, loss of companionship and other similar harm.  This category of damages can be significant.

An example

Depending on the victim’s age, health, earning power, life expectancy and other factors, pecuniary damages can be quite high.

Imagine a 27-year-old woman who dies because of a car accident or a preventable surgical error. She was a married mother of two, she was college-educated and beginning a promising career. In a case like this, a jury might find that her family suffered millions of dollars in damages due to her death. In addition, non-economic damages for mental anguish of surviving family members can be significant regardless of the deceased family member’s education or earnings.

No legal action can change the past, or bring back a loved one. Nevertheless, wrongful death litigation can help protect you from disastrous financial problems and provide compensation for the significant emotional harm suffered by family members.