Wrongful Death Attorneys in Akron, Ohio | Willis, Willis & Rizzi | We Have The Answers!
What is considered a wrongful death?
A wrongful death case is the result of personal injuries to your loved one that resulted in their death whether immediate or over a period of time, and the death was due to the conduct of another party. At Willis, Willis & Rizzi we have dealt with a wide variety of wrongful death cases. In some cases, it’s very clear what the cause of death was such as a motor vehicle crash or some other traumatic event such as a fall or something falling on an individual. We have also handled cases where there was an environmental or chemical exposure, ground water issues, industrial accidents, or other various causes which take time to develop and/or are not so obvious.
What happens, legally, when someone dies?
When someone dies, there is a non-human entity created in the legal world. It is called an “estate”. A corporation is another form of a non-human legal entity. When someone dies, an estate is created in the law for the purposes of handling the affairs of the deceased. The estate will pay bills that are owed, collect money that is due, conduct business and/or prosecute or defend legal claims; including claims for injuries. Estates are watched over by the probate courts. The probate court will ensure that all matters related to the deceased individual’s estate are handled correctly and that all necessary parties are included in the case. A fiduciary/manager/ trustee will be appointed by the probate court to be the representative of the estate and conduct business on its behalf. The fiduciary will report to the probate court on the affairs of the estate.
Who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim?
In Ohio, like other states, there exists a wrongful death statute. If a person dies as a result of their personal injuries, the estate has a claim (on behalf of the deceased) for the injuries, lost earnings, other damages and medical bills that were incurred. Additionally, the statute says there is a certain class of people that are presumed to be injured by the death of a loved one. The statue specifically identifies parents, a spouse and/or children as members of a class that are presumed to be injured people who also have a claim for their damages and injuries due to the death of their loved one.
The probate court will determine who is eligible to make a claim, and what the value of that claim will be based on the details of the relationship. For example, a minor child who loses a parent may not only have the emotional loss of love, care and comfort , but also the loss of financially providing for their needs and care moving forward into the future.
What is gained by filing a wrongful death claim?
When a wrongful death claim is made, it provides the opportunity to discover what is out there in the way of recoverable assets. At Willis, Willis & Rizzi we recently had a case where an elderly woman was killed in a car crash, and the insurance company of the at fault driver did not want to reveal how much insurance coverage was available. By law, we are entitled to know that information if we file a lawsuit. If we don’t file a lawsuit, the insurance company doesn’t have to reveal the amount of insurance coverage. Often times we have seen insurance companies play games like this in an attempt to conceal how much insurance coverage is available. By filing a wrongful death claim and lawsuit, it provides the power of the court system through subpoenas to research and determine the full extent of what is recoverable on behalf of the estate.
What if minors are involved in a wrongful death claim?
In a wrongful death claim if there are minor children and their parents are killed, a guardian will be assigned by the probate court. Often times the parents would have had a will that names a guardian to care for their children. Typically, the probate court will go along with this request but ultimately the court has the power to appoint whomever the court feels is the best guardian for the children.
Money that is recovered through a wrongful death case can be set aside by the probate court to be used to provide the necessary care for the children as they grow up.
Are there time constraints in filing a wrongful death claim?
When considering making a wrongful death claim it’s important to remember that each state has a prescribed time limit within which claims can be brought. It is important to figure out early on what that time limit is. This is another reason to consult with competent legal counsel.
Why should I hire Willis, Willis & Rizzi as my personal injury attorneys to handle my wrongful death claim?
In any type of personal injury situation, if you have medical bills or miss time at work, you are going to need a personal injury lawyer. In this type of situation there will be multiple legal issues involved and you simply will not be equipped to deal with or recognize those issues. In a wrongful death claim situation, there will be even more entities and claims involved. It’s important to have professional and experienced advocates arguing on your behalf for the best possible outcome. Remember also that insurance companies will not simply hand you money on a wrongful death claim. Insurance companies will also want the power of the probate court to document and protect their interests as well.
At Willis, Willis & Rizzi we have a vast amount of experience in dealing with wrongful death claims. We have handled wrongful death claims in multiple states for all types of injuries from traumatic to environmental or chemical exposure.
In a wrongful death case, at some point there will be a hearing at the probate court, and the probate court will being looking at the personal injury attorney or attorneys who handled the wrongful death claim for the estate. The court will either have confidence in what the personal injury law firm has done in the past, or the court will not. At Willis, Willis & Rizzi we have handled enough wrongful death claims over the years that the courts are comfortable with us doing the work and accepting what we present to them. This only comes from years of experience and trust between the probate court and the personal injury law firm.