Many families who have lost a loved one will wonder about the average wrongful death settlement Ohio cases receive. The bad news is that there is no average settlement. Predicting the settlement requires a lawyer to look at many factors considered by claims adjusters and jurors.
The good news is that damages calculations are tailored to the family’s circumstances. As a result, a wrongful death settlement will reflect your loved one’s uniqueness as well as your relationship with them.
Types of Damages Available in Wrongful Death Cases in Ohio
Ohio’s wrongful death statute defines the damages family members can seek. These damages include the following:
Funeral and Burial Expenses
Funeral and burial expenses are based on reasonable amounts incurred for these services. The wrongful death lawyer will use your receipts from the mortuary to calculate this amount.
Loss of Financial Support
Family members can pursue compensation for future financial support that was lost when their loved one died. The victim’s spouse, children, and parents are presumed to receive support from their loved one. Other family members can also pursue compensation if they prove they received support.
Financial support also includes benefits obtained through the deceased person. Thus, the family can seek the value of the employment-based health insurance coverage they lost when the victim died.
Loss of Services
In addition to their financial contribution, victims also contribute services. After their death, the family members need to pay to replace these services, which can include the following:
You might even need to replace services like home maintenance and auto repair.
Loss of Prospective Inheritance
When your loved one died, their estate was distributed to devisees and heirs. If their life had not been cut short, the estate might have increased in value due to asset appreciation, investment growth, and debt reduction. Your compensatory damages include the difference in the value of the estate between the day they died and their natural life expectancy.
Loss of Society
Loss of society covers the value of the deceased victim’s involvement in your life. It can include loss of:
- Advice, guidance, and counsel
- Instruction, training, and education
These only encompass intangible losses. For example, loss of society does not include the amount spent on family vacations. Instead, it covers the emotional loss of not being able to go on vacation with the deceased person.
Mental anguish essentially covers your emotional and mental losses due to the grief you experienced. You should not discount the erosion in your quality of life while you mourn. You may lose sleep and experience depression.
Factors That Can Influence Wrongful Death Settlements
To prove your losses, a wrongful death attorney will need evidence. Some factors that can affect the size of a wrongful death settlement include:
- The victim’s age
- The victim’s salary
- The closeness of the victim to the family
- The victim’s financial contributions to the family
- The non-financial contributions by the victim
Younger victims lose more years from their expected lifespan. As a result, they have greater losses. Similarly, high-net-worth victims often have greater losses than middle-class victims.
Examples of Past Settlements
The average wrongful death settlement Ohio litigants can expect will depend on the facts in their cases. It is helpful, then, to look at case examples to learn what people have recovered previously in real cases.
One example is two parents who filed a wrongful death claim against the manufacturer of a car seat after it malfunctioned, causing their child’s death. They secured a $1.4 million settlement after the court ordered the parties to attempt mediation.
Another example is when the family of a lineman filed a wrongful death case against a subcontractor hired by the electrical company to inspect its utility poles. The subcontractor skipped some poles, killing the lineman when a rotted pole fell on him. The family won $27 million.
Negotiation and Settlement Process
Wrongful death cases start with insurance claims. The family’s attorney will file using proof of losses and try to negotiate a settlement. If the insurer refuses to settle, the lawyer can file a lawsuit.
Once the lawsuit is filed, the insurer must decide whether to pay lawyers to fight the lawsuit or settle the claim. If the lawyer builds a strong liability case, the insurer will often lean toward settlement.
Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure
Many settlement agreements include confidentiality and non-disclosure clauses. These terms often require the parties to keep the terms of the settlement secret. At most, the parties can publicly state that the lawsuit was settled on mutually agreed terms. These contractual clauses complicate any attempts to gather information about wrongful death settlements in other cases.
The Importance of Working With a Lawyer
A lawyer assembles the evidence to prove liability. This evidence gives them the leverage to push for a settlement. From there, the lawyer uses their negotiating skills to try to find a settlement number that both the family and insurer can accept.
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions:
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Ohio, the victim’s personal representative files a wrongful death lawsuit. This person is usually the executor of the victim’s estate.
What Happens if the Deceased Person Is Partially Responsible for Their Fatal Injuries?
A claims adjuster can pin a portion of the blame on the victim for contributing to their injuries. The losses are reduced in proportion to the victim’s share of the blame.
Is There a Deadline to File Wrongful Death Claims?
Family members usually have two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit. That said, the statute of limitations has several exceptions that may require legal analysis.
Speak to a Wrongful Death Lawyer
There is no average wrongful death settlement Ohio claimants can expect. Instead, your settlement will depend on the facts of your case and your lawyer’s negotiating skills. Contact The Moore Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss your family’s situation and your wrongful death claim.