How to Prove a Wrongful Death Occurred Under Ohio Law
Establishing Negligence in a Wrongful Death Claim
There are several factors in a wrongful death case, three of which are:
- An event caused by the negligence of another party resulted in the death of a human being;
- Surviving family members suffered damages due to the death of their loved one; and
- A personal representative has been appointed to bring a wrongful death action.
Negligence is a major factor in the first steps of proving you have a wrongful death claim. The first detail you must establish in a wrongful death case is that the defendant owed your loved one a duty of care.
The nature of the relationship between the liable party and the deceased must be such that the liable party had a responsibility (duty) to keep your loved one from coming to harm (care). An example of duty would be the doctor-patient relationship, and the care would be that a doctor is expected to take every precaution to prevent harm to the patient.
Going with the doctor-patient example, if you believe a doctor caused the death of your loved one due to negligence, you must have proof to support that accusation. For wrongful death cases due to medical malpractice
, evidence of negligence often comes from medical records and expert witnesses.
Wrongful deaths that occur from personal injury accidents such as car wrecks or slip and falls rely on evidence gathered from the accident scene, such as photographs and witness statements. If a defective product such as a space heater with faulty wiring causes a death, the product itself is often proof enough that a manufacturer is liable for a fatal injury that resulted from proper use of its product.
When a fatal accident occurs where another party may be liable for the death, plaintiffs also must address any degree of fault the deceased had in the accident. If the decedent was 51 percent or more at fault for the accident and his or her fatal injuries, Ohio’s comparative negligence laws
prevent recovery of damages. If less than 51 percent at fault, then plaintiffs can collect compensation, though it is reduced by the decedent’s percentage of fault.
The task of proving a wrongful death lawsuit does not have to fall on your shoulders alone. Your attention belongs on your family, not on paperwork and courtrooms. At Ryan, LLP, we assist clients in Cleveland and the surrounding areas when cases of wrongful death arise. Contact us
to schedule a free consultation today at (877) 864-9495.