Every death is a tragedy that affects not just a decedent but also their family members. For those surviving family members, it is worth asking how this event occurred. If people are able to connect a death to the negligent actions of another person or corporation, they may have justification to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
There are two main causes of wrongful death. Many of these events occur as a consequence of an accident. Even though the at-fault party did not intend to cause harm, their poor decisions or lack of control resulted in a fatality.
Intentional actions are the other source of wrongful deaths. Here, the at-fault party may be facing criminal charges connected to their conduct.
An attorney could help family members investigate the cause of their loved one’s death and determine if that death is wrongful in the eyes of the law.
What It Means for a Death to be Wrongful
There is no doubt that every death is a tragedy. However, not every death creates legal liability. Many people die as a result of natural causes. Others perish as the result of their own reckless behavior. A wrongful death lawsuit is only appropriate under limited circumstances.
State law defines these circumstances. According to the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) §2125.01, a wrongful death occurs when a party’s actions would have entitled a victim to pursue a lawsuit for personal injury had the victim survived the incident. In simpler terms, a wrongful death lawsuit is appropriate when a party’s actions would have led to a personal injury lawsuit, but the victim dies. A lawyer can provide more clarification concerning this legal concept.
Many Wrongful Deaths Are the Result of Accidents
Accidents are a common cause of wrongful deaths. These are events where an at-fault party did not intend to cause harm. Even so, their actions were so dangerous or reckless that they may now carry legal liability for all resulting losses.
These accidents can be sudden and occur at almost any time. Typical examples of accidents that can lead to wrongful deaths include:
- Car, truck, and motorcycle collisions
- Pedestrian accidents
- Defective drug injuries
- Medical malpractice
In these cases, it is necessary to show that another party’s actions were the cause of the accident. Speeding while driving, creating a dangerous drug, or failing to provide proper care to a patient can all lead to unexpected deaths. An attorney can help family members pursue wrongful death lawsuits that come about as the consequence of accidents.
Lawyers can also help parties pursue their cases on time. ORC §2125.02 is the state law that generally gives people pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit two years from the date of the death to introduce a lawsuit in a local courthouse. Many of these cases are very complex, and it is best to get started as soon as you are comfortable.
Criminal Behavior Can Also Result in Wrongful Deaths
The other source of wrongful deaths is criminal acts. In these situations, a person acts with the intent to cause harm to another. It is important to remember that while the intent may have been to cause harm, wrongful death may still occur even if that person did not intend to kill. A death that occurs because of a punch is just as viable a reason to pursue a case as a shooting.
In these situations, the state may bring criminal charges against the responsible party. If the criminal court finds that the defendant is guilty of homicide or murder, the victim’s family can use this conviction as evidence in their wrongful death case. However, even if a prosecutor does not convict the attacker or declines to bring charges at all, it may still be possible to pursue and win a civil lawsuit for compensation.
An Attorney Could Provide More Information About the Causes of Wrongful Deaths
Whether the cause of a wrongful death was an accident or an intentional act of violence, it falls to a decedent’s family members to pursue claims that demand appropriate compensation.
The Fitch Law Firm LLC helps family members of the recently deceased understand their legal rights and fight for the payments that they may need for financial stability and emotional comfort.
Whether the death was the result of a car accident, a defective product, medical malpractice, or another negligent act, we are here to help. Give our legal team a call today at (614) 545-3930 for your free consultation. We serve Columbus and other areas of Ohio.