Losing a loved one in a tragic accident is difficult enough. And on top of that, you may face the financial difficulties of that person's funeral, loss of income, and more. You may be owed compensation for these losses and the significant grief you have suffered.
Too often, the negligence of others causes the loss of companionship, support, and love of a family member. When this happens, a wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate.
A successful wrongful death case may result in substantial compensation for the surviving family members. You may be wondering how to calculate wrongful death damages. Our skilled Cincinnati wrongful death attorneys at The Moore Law Firm know how to calculate your potential damages and seek them on your behalf. We know what you have been through and are here to help.
Evidence Needed To Prove a Wrongful Death Claim
The plaintiff is required to prove certain elements of a wrongful death claim. Most wrongful death claims stem from another party's negligence, which means you and your attorney will seek to establish:
- Duty: The defendant had a duty or responsibility toward the deceased family member.
- Breach: The defendant breached the duty they owed.
- Causation: The breach of duty led to the victim's death.
- Damages: The surviving family members suffered damages due to the decedent's death.
A dedicated attorney can help investigate the cause of death, calculate the costs you suffered, and seek the fullest possible compensation for your family.
What's Involved in Wrongful Death Calculation?
There are three main components in determining damages for wrongful death. Each is an essential part of the compensation you may be owed.
Economic damages refer to the financial harms you have suffered, such as:
- The decedent's expected lifetime earnings
- Potential inheritances
- Services and goods provided by the decedent
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Lost benefits the decedent would have earned (pension, medical coverage, etc.)
These damages have a specific monetary value that may be assigned to them, making them easier to prove in many circumstances.
Non-economic damages compensate you for the non-financial losses you have suffered. These may include:
- Mental anguish, emotional distress, and grief
- Loss of advice, care, and support
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
In some cases, punitive damages may also be appropriate. These punish defendants for particularly egregious conduct, such as extreme recklessness or intentional behavior.
Court and Legal Representation Expenses
In some cases, you might receive compensation for your court costs, attorney's fees, and interest. This will depend on the unique circumstances of your wrongful death case. Your wrongful death attorney can help you understand the damages that may be available to you and your family members.
The Average Amount Awarded in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Wrongful death settlements or jury awards vary widely. They depend largely on the circumstances of the wrongful death and the impact it will have on the surviving family members. Many factors will affect how much is awarded as part of a settlement or jury verdict.
These factors may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The decedent's income
- The medical costs from the decedent's injuries before their death
- The decedent's position in the family (i.e., primary caregiver or income source)
- Emotional damages suffered by the family
- Whether the decedent had children that relied upon them
- The decedent's training and education
- The decedent's health before their death
- The decedent's age
- The circumstances of the wrongful death (accident, intentional acts, medical malpractice, etc.)
The amount awarded will also depend on who the defendant is and what their resources are. Lawsuits against insurance companies, businesses, and other large entities may result in more significant awards because they have the assets to support larger verdicts. Ultimately, your wrongful death attorneys will seek fair compensation to help your family through this trying time.
How Wrongful Death Settlements Are Dispersed to Recipients
Family members may receive a wrongful death settlement in several ways. Qualifying family members will receive appropriate portions of the verdict or settlement under Ohio law. Generally, family members — such as a spouse, children, parents, or siblings — may be eligible under Ohio wrongful death law. Who is entitled to the share of the settlement will depend on the factual situation of the case. A knowledgeable attorney can fully explain how this works in your unique situation.
Settlements may be dispersed as a lump sum from the lawsuit's net proceeds. This is usually done via your attorney through a trust account that receives the compensation from the other party. Your attorney then pays those proceeds to the surviving family members.
Another type of settlement is a structured settlement. This means family members receive smaller payments over a longer period of time. This is often for a larger amount than they could win in a lump sum.
Understanding Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is a specific time period by which you must file your wrongful death action. If it is not filed by the statute of limitations deadline, the case will likely be dismissed by the trial court, regardless of whether it would have been successful if filed on time.
Ohio Revised Code Section 2125.02(D)(1) requires that most wrongful death cases be filed within two years of the decedent's death. There are a few exceptions to this rule that may lengthen this time period, but they are rare. The best course of action is to speak with a licensed wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to avoid losing potential compensation in your case.
Discuss Wrongful Death Compensation With an Experienced Attorney
Losing a loved one is tragic and difficult. You should not have to face the complexities of the Ohio legal system alone when pursuing the compensation you are owed.
Our experienced wrongful death attorneys at The Moore Law Firm know how to handle your case with care and sensitivity. We know the law and will always seek a fair settlement or resolution of your case.
Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you. Our attorneys will meet with you and discuss your options.