When a loved one dies following an accident, filing a lawsuit is probably the last thing on your mind. However, Ohio does give surviving family members important rights to compensation. In a wrongful death lawsuit, you can hold the person responsible for the death legally accountable. If successful, you can force the defendant to compensate you for a variety of losses stemming from your loved one’s death.
Ohio gives the right to file this lawsuit exclusively to the estate’s personal representative. Because many people don’t know who that is, we have written this post to provide some of the basics.
Who is the Personal Representative?
When a person dies, they leave behind an estate, and someone needs to administer this estate. In Ohio, this person is called the personal representative. He or she is usually a family member, though you can name anyone in your will. The personal representative will gather assets and pay any unpaid bills the deceased had. This representative can also file lawsuits on behalf of the estate.
Under ORC § 2125.02, the personal representative is tasked with filing a wrongful death lawsuit in court. Although they file the lawsuit, any compensation is awarded to a surviving spouse, children, and parents.
To find the personal representative, locate your loved one’s will. The personal representative should be named in it. It is common practice to name a backup as well, in case the first choice has either died or is unwilling or unable to serve.
What if There Was No Will?
Many people never actually draft a will, so they die “intestate.” However, they still need a personal representative, and the probate court will appoint someone. If you want to serve, you should submit paperwork to the court. An attorney can help you.
Deadlines for Filing an Ohio Wrongful Death Lawsuit
We highly recommend that family members quickly meet with an Ohio wrongful death attorney at Groth Law as soon as possible. Although you might be feeling immense grief, Ohio only gives the personal representative two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit. That time can pass very quickly. If you go over the deadline—even by a day—you lose the ability to sue.
Our law firm can do all of the following:
- Get you appointed as the personal representative if no one is serving.
- Identify the correct defendant to sue for your loved one’s death.
- Gather evidence to establish the death was wrongful.
- File a lawsuit in a timely manner in the correct Ohio court.
Let Groth Law Help
Instead of struggling to navigate the courthouse on your own, let us represent you. We can guide you through the wrongful death process from start to finish, relieving you of stress and allowing you to focus on your loved ones during this painful time. Our legal team is often able to negotiate a settlement for wrongful death, but we also need sufficient time. Please call us as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation with our lawyers.