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Wrongful Death Claims

What is a wrongful death?

A wrongful death is a death caused by the negligence or misconduct of a person or company.

What are wrongful death laws?

All states have wrongful death laws that provide compensation to the surviving spouse, minor children, and parents of a deceased adult. Some states permit other relatives to recover compensation if they depended on the deceased person for support or services. In some states, grandparents or members of the extended family can also recover damages for their loss.

Who can file a wrongful death action?

In most states, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the person or company that allegedly caused the death.

Is there a time limit for filing a wrongful death action?

A statute of limitation is a law setting the time period during which a lawsuit has to be filed. Each state has its own statute of limitation for wrongful death actions. The limitation period generally begins to run from the date of the deceased’s death. For example, the Ohio wrongful death statute provides that a lawsuit must be filed within two years after the death occurs. However, there is a legal principle called the delayed discovery rule, which extends the time period for filing a wrongful death suit. Under the delayed discovery rule, the statute of limitations does not start to run until the person filing the suit knows or should have discovered that the death was caused by the negligence of the defendant. A wrongful death claim may be dismissed if it is filed after the limitations period has expired.

What damages can be recovered in a wrongful death action?

Medical costs, funeral expenses, and any other actual losses are recoverable in a wrongful death suit. Also, the surviving spouse generally is compensated for the loss of affection, companionship, support, and services of the deceased. Minor children can usually recover for the loss of affection, guidance, support, and services of the deceased. In addition, the survivors can also receive compensation for the deceased’s potential future earnings and lost benefits such as pension and health insurance.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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