Experienced Ohio Wrongful Death Attorney
You can count on us after a fatal birth injury or medical malpractice death
Wrongful death lawyers understand how overwhelming and complicated such legal cases can be for families. The death of a loved one can be devastating and upsetting at any time. This is especially true if you’re mourning the loss of a newborn baby or another immediate family member, including your spouse, your child or a parent.
When such a loss occurs due to mistakes made by medical professionals or the negligence of another party, you may be dealing with what’s known as a wrongful death. Knowing what to do in such situations can be confusing. You may feel a wide range of emotions. You may be angry, confused and deeply saddened by their unexpected death.
All you probably want to do is grieve the loss of a loved one. But you often need to make important legal decisions right away. Otherwise, your family might not receive the financial support you deserve to live your lives with dignity and respect. That’s why we want to help.
Here for your family when you need us most
Ohio wrongful death lawyer John A. Lancione can help you every step of the way. For more than three decades, Cleveland attorney Lancione and his dedicated legal team at The Lancione Law Firm, LLC, have been working with families and demanding the justice they deserve after the loss of the loved one.
We focus on birth injury and medical malpractice cases in Ohio. In particular, our Rocky River law firm has years of experience handling wrongful death cases involving stillbirth and infant death as well as maternal death claims.
Our extensive experience working with families dealing with the loss of a loved one due to medical negligence has given us an in-depth understanding of the laws and the legal system that apply to such cases. You can count on The Lancione Law Firm when you need us most.
What is a wrongful death?
Wrongful death is a legal term used to describe a fatal injury that occurs as a result of someone else’s reckless or negligent actions. Each state has its own unique rules and regulations when it comes to wrongful death. In Ohio, wrongful death is legally defined as a “wrongful act, neglect, or default” which resulted in a person’s death, according to Ohio Revised Code (ORC) § 2125.01.
In terms of birth injuries and medical malpractice, wrongful death often involves medical professionals who do not follow standard medical protocols and deviate from established standards of care.
When this occurs, surviving family members often have the right to take legal action to hold the at-fault party liable (financially responsible) for their actions or inaction. Such legal cases usually involve family members filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault medical professional or institution (such as a hospital) seeking compensation for damages, a legal term for financial compensation for economic losses due to a breach of duty or violation of someone’s rights.
A wrongful death lawsuit is considered a civil action, separate from any criminal charges that might be brought by the State of Ohio in connection with the same death. In such cases, family members seek compensatory damages (money for direct economic losses) and may also be able to seek punitive damages (financial compensation meant to punish the at-fault party awarded at the court’s discretion).
All of this might seem straightforward. However, building a successful wrongful death case – especially if it involves a birth injury or medical malpractice – can often be much harder than many people realize. That’s why it’s critical that you have an experienced wrongful death lawyer on your side.
How do you prove a wrongful death?
In wrongful death cases, you need to provide proof that your loved one’s death occurred due to someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior. Such evidence involves four elements:
- Breach of Duty
This legal term means that the person who caused your loved one’s death owed a responsibility to care for them and that they broke that legal promise. In terms of medical malpractice cases, for example, this means that a doctor or another health care professional failed to follow standard health protocols designed to protect a person’s health, resulting in your family member’s death.
You and your attorney must provide evidence that a medical professional’s negligent actions directly caused your loved one’s death.
As part of your legal case, you will need to provide evidence demonstrating how the at-fault party’s actions (or inaction) resulted in causing your loved one’s death.
As explained earlier, damages is a legal term used to refer to financial compensation awarded to someone by the at-fault party. In terms of a wrongful death claim, you will need to demonstrate the direct financial impact of your loved one’s death on your family. This can include money for:
- Medical bills during their final period of injury or illness
- Funeral expenses
- Lost future income
- Pain and suffering in certain circumstances
Finding evidence to establish the four elements of a wrongful death can often be very challenging. This is especially true in cases involving medical negligence or a fatal birth injury claim. That’s why it’s critical that you have an experienced lawyer who knows how to find such evidence and how to build a strong wrongful death case.
Who investigates a wrongful death?
Like many other legal cases involving medical negligence, wrongful death claims undergo a rigorous investigation to determine why someone died. Who investigates such cases varies from state to state.
In Ohio the State Medical Board of Ohio investigates medical malpractice claims, including ones involving wrongful death. Other state and federal agencies also often conduct an investigation into whether negligence played a role in someone’s death.
Don’t be surprised if the hospital or medical professional accused of causing your loved one’s death conducts their own investigation, including hiring medical experts or attorneys to do such work. This is why it’s important to have an attorney on your side conducting a similar, in-depth investigation. Otherwise, your loved one’s death might not get the attention your family rightfully deserves.
Who decides if a death is wrongful?
Along with state and federal investigators, insurance companies for the at-fault party (including doctors, surgeons and other medical professionals) often conduct an investigation to determine whether a wrongful death occurred.
Not surprisingly, such investigations conducted by a medical professional’s insurance company often reach the conclusion that the medical professional or institution didn’t do anything wrong.
But just because they claim they didn’t do anything wrong doesn’t mean you have to accept their findings. You can – and should – hire an experienced attorney who can investigate your loved one’s death and find the facts you need to build a strong wrongful death claim. Rocky River wrongful death lawyer John A. Lancione has the knowledge and the skills you need to tackle your tough legal case.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
Only certain individuals can file a wrongful death lawsuit or claim. The rules vary from state to state. In Ohio, only the deceased person’s executor or “personal representative” can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased person’s estate, according to Ohio Revised Code (ORC) § 2125.02.
The deceased person’s personal representative is either named in the deceased’s will or appointed by a probate court judge. Often, the personal representative is an immediate family member, such as a spouse, parent or adult child, but this is not required.
Make sure you fully understand your legal rights. Talk to an experienced wrongful death lawyer to learn more about your available options.
What deadlines apply in such cases?
Several different deadlines may apply when it comes to filing a wrongful death lawsuit. These deadlines (known as the statute of limitations) vary from state to state. In Ohio, the deadline to file a wrongful death claim or take other legal action is two years from the date of a person’s death, according to Ohio Revised Code (ORC) § 2152.02(D).
However, this deadline can be extended in certain circumstances. One exception for medical malpractice cases involves what’s known as the “statute of repose,” according to Ohio Revised Code (ORC) § 2305.113(C). In order to receive such an extension, the plaintiff (the person filing a lawsuit) must provide evidence that the deceased person could not have reasonably known about their medical condition under the normal two year statute of limitations. Other rules and restrictions also apply.
Such deadlines and regulations can be confusing. This is why it’s important to talk with an experienced lawyer who knows the rules and understands how the legal system works in your state when it comes to wrongful death claims. Our Rocky River law firm can help you every step of the way.
How much is my claim worth?
Depending on the circumstances of your case, your claim may be worth thousands of dollars or significantly more.
The at-fault party’s insurance company, which is responsible for paying such claims, often tries to undervalue how much money family members receive after a wrongful death. But the reality is you should be financially compensated for all financial losses due to your loved one’s death, including future anticipated financial losses. Such damages (financial compensation) may include money for:
- All medical expenses for your loved one before their death.
- The estimated income your loved one would have earned during their lifetime if they had survived.
- Additional expenses for your family as a result of your loved one’s death, including money for:
- Childcare services
- Education costs for your children
- Loss of income if you or another family member needs to work less as a result of your loved one’s death
- Pain and suffering and loss of companionship in certain circumstances.
- Mental anguish caused by the death of a loved one.
In addition, you might be eligible for punitive damages if your wrongful death lawsuit goes to trial. In a wrongful death case, punitive damages is money awarded to surviving family members by the at-fault party which is meant to punish the at-fault party for their actions, not compensate you for a specific financial loss. Punitive damages are very rare in Ohio, but they may be worth pursuing depending on the details of your legal case.
Your family has options. Contact our Ohio law firm. We can help
Don’t underestimate the complexity or the seriousness of your wrongful death case. The sooner you talk to an attorney who understands how the legal system works in your state, the better. That way, you won’t miss out on what might be your only opportunity for justice.
Experienced Ohio wrongful death lawyer John A. Lancione can help your family every step of the way. We understand the sensitive and complex nature of such legal cases. That’s why other law firms frequently refer wrongful death cases to us involving medical malpractice.
When you have our legal team on your side, you can focus on what matters most – grieving the loss of your loved one. Let us take care of the red tape and all the legal complications that often arise in such cases. Contact our Ohio law firm and schedule a free consultation at our Rocky River office today. You can reach us online or call (440) 331-6100 or (877) 515-4369 to speak directly with Cleveland wrongful death attorney John A. Lancione. He’s here for you when you need him most.