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Understanding wrongful death and survival claims

On Behalf of | Feb 9, 2023 | Injuries |

When a person dies due to the actions or negligence of someone else, no amount of money can bring them back. However, loved ones can seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages as the result of the deceased person no longer being around. That’s done through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Wrongful death suits help families seek justice for the person killed – which can be particularly important if the party didn’t commit a criminal act for which they could face legal consequences like jail time. They’re also intended to hold defendants liable for harm done to the surviving loved ones. A wrongful death suit can also help a family seek justice if the party liable wasn’t found guilty in criminal court. The OJ Simpson case is an example.

Who can file a wrongful death suit, and what damages can they seek?

Here in Ohio, a wrongful death suit can only be filed by the spouse, parents and/or surviving children of a deceased person. As noted, they can seek economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages would include:

  • Loss of future financial support
  • Loss of services provided – for example, childcare and maintaining the home
  • Loss of inheritance the deceased would have been able to leave

Non-economic damages would include things like pain and suffering by the family members and the loss of companionship, guidance and affection from the deceased.

When can a survival claim be filed and by whom?

Notice that all of those losses are suffered by the family. In many cases, a person survives for some period before succumbing to their injuries. In these cases, the executor of their estate can file a survival claim, which is separate from a wrongful death suit.

A survival claim seeks damages the person would have been entitled to sue for if they hadn’t passed away. Proceeds received in a survival claim go to the person’s estate to be distributed according to their will or, if there’s no will, state law.

These damages typically include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Pain and suffering

Because these damages pertain to the time the deceased survived following their injury, the longer they survive, the larger this claim would be.

It’s a lot to think about when your life has been turned upside down. However, getting the compensation you deserve can make a big difference as your family moves forward. That’s why it’s wise to have sound legal guidance.



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