My name is Darryl Isaacs, and I practice personal injury law. In my decades of representing clients who have been injured by the carelessness of others, I’ve seen a lot of tragedy. There’s nothing worse than losing a beloved family member because somebody didn’t care enough to do the right thing. I’ve seen the emotional trauma people face, and though I cannot imagine how you feel, I know that at least part of the pain is caused by a sense of powerlessness. You want the truth about what happened, and you want whoever caused your loved one’s death to be held accountable.
On top of the pain of losing a family member, you’re financially devastated. You’re facing medical costs and funeral expenses, and you lost the support your family member’s income provided. The legal theory behind tort law is to make the injured party whole again. Though nothing in the world can bring your loved one back, Ohio law is very strict in wrongful death cases. The state of Ohio truly tries to make a family whole again, at least financially.
Ohio Wrongful Death Damages
In Ohio law, you are suing on your loved one’s behalf for injuries, which they could have filed a lawsuit for had they lived. Ohio allows for broad damages family members can recover, including:
- Loss of support your deceased family member’s income provided
- Loss of companionship of a spouse
- Loss of the love and guidance of a parent
- Loss of potential inheritance, had your family member lived
- Loss of the services of your family member (child care; yard work; chores)
- Mental anguish and grief
- Cost of therapy for traumatized survivors
Punitive Damages are not allowed in an Ohio wrongful death suit. But punitive damages are allowed for the behavior that caused the death and for which your loved one could have recovered punitive damages had he or she lived. Punitive damages are to punish a tortfeasor (liable party in a civil lawsuit) for gross negligence or criminal acts. For instance, if somebody drives drunk, a jury may award punitive damages in a lawsuit to punish the wrongdoer and discourage similar behavior. Juries have been known to award punitive damages of tens of millions of dollars, especially when the negligent party was an unethical business.
Ohio Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death
Channel 5 News aired a shocking investigative report last November which revealed the prevalence of medical malpractice in Cleveland and around the country. According to the News 5 report, one Vietnam veteran died from infection after having a minor surgical procedure for dental implants at the Cleveland VA. He swallowed a piece of gauze during the surgery, and doctors, who knew what happened, did not tell anybody about it.
The patient’s wife found out after she sought a second opinion at another hospital when her husband became seriously ill after his dental surgery. Though his VA medical record showed he had swallowed the gauze, the medical staff did not inform the patient or his wife about the gauze in his stomach, and by the time the patient found out, he was ill beyond recall. He died six months after his dental implant surgery. Clearly the doctors were grossly negligent. However, even if his widow brings a wrongful death lawsuit, there’s a cap of $500,000 on noneconomic damages for medical malpractice in Ohio.
According to the News 5 report, one doctor on staff at the Cleveland VA caused the death of between 10 to 15 patients. The records were kept secret until lawmakers forced disclosure of internal investigative findings.
If your family member dies after a routine medical procedure, you may not ever find out the truth about what happened unless you file a wrongful death lawsuit. Even if you do file a lawsuit, it is very hard to force hospitals to disclose records. But, by filing a lawsuit, you can expose wrongdoing and demand accountability from medical professionals. You will not have to be the one who fights with the hospital over disclosing records. Your wrongful death attorney will fight that battle for you.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Ohio, a representative of the estate who is a human being, not a corporation, may bring a lawsuit for wrongful death on behalf of the estate. The lawsuit can seek damages on behalf of the family members and the estate.
Compensation will be split among:
- Surviving spouse
- Surviving children, including adopted
- Surviving parents
Other family members may recover damages but have the burden of proving that the family member’s death caused them financial loss. For instance, if your grandparents had guardianship of you and were killed in a car wreck, you may be presumed to have lost their support and any potential inheritance. There are a multitude of situations where a family member who is not a biological parent provides support and guidance.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Can Expose the Truth
When you file a lawsuit, you are empowered to demand information that nobody is obliged to give you outside of a civil lawsuit. You and your aggressive legal team acting on your behalf can:
- Subpoena witnesses, including employees, to testify under oath at a deposition and at trial
- Demand production of all related records, including electronic files, social media passwords and cell phone transcripts and texts
- Propound questions (interrogatories) to be answered under oath and in writing
- Inspect all tangible evidence, including factories, vehicles, and medical facilities and equipment
- Request the defendants to admit the truth of facts relating to the death of your loved one under penalty of perjury
In some instances, evidence uncovered during the discovery phase of a wrongful death suit have led to criminal charges being filed.
Statute of Limitations for Ohio Wrongful Death Lawsuits
In Ohio, the estate has a time limit of two years from the date of death to file a lawsuit. However, waiting until the time limit expires may not be a good idea. Wrongdoers have been known to alter records and otherwise engage in cover-ups to avoid liability for a wrongful death. Though we realize that contacting an attorney may be the last thing you want to do at this time, the sooner you do so the faster your attorney can begin a thorough investigation into the cause of your family member’s death before:
- Evidence is altered or disappears completely
- Witnesses forget what they saw, or move away
- The wrongdoer has time to stage a successful cover-up
Isaacs & Isaacs Wrongful Death Law Firm Will Fight to Obtain Justice
At Isaacs & Isaacs, we feel that when people are allowed to get away with actions that endanger and kill members of our communities, nobody is safe including our own families. We are not afraid to stand up to big companies and demand accountability and justice in these cases.
We have helped grieving family members to obtain a sense of justice and closure in wrongful death actions, and we have helped them to have the financial resources to go forward and rebuild their lives. We are on call around-the-clock to be there for you in your legal emergency.