A “wrongful death” occurs when a person dies due to the negligence or misconduct of another individual, company or entity. Unlike a personal injury case where the injured person is one of the plaintiffs, a wrongful death action belongs to the victim’s immediate family members. Often times, it is the victim’s surviving spouse, children, beneficiaries or dependents who are the plaintiffs and are entitled to monetary damages that result from the victim’s death. Actions for personal injury, conscious pain and suffering, or expenses incurred prior to the decedent’s death are also brought by the personal representative. The damage awards from these actions belong to the estate and may pass to different parties as directed by the decedent’s will or the probate court.
Wrongful death claims can involve every area of tort practice, such as the following situations:
• Medical malpractice
• Automobile or airplane accident
• Trucking disasters
• Nursing home negligence
• Dangerous products on the market
• Occupational exposure to hazardous conditions or substances
• Injury due to hazard on another’s property.
Various types of monetary damages may be recovered in a wrongful death action. These include damages for loss of companionship, sorrow and grief, which may be sought in such an action. It is common to take the victim’s earnings at the time of his or her death and calculate the remaining years that person was expected to live to determine future lost earnings using life expectancy tables as well as experts who figure what is known as present cash value as well as the investment value of that money.
If you believe someone you loved died as a result of another’s negligence, your first step should be to consult with Petersen & Petersen, who are experienced wrongful death attorneys. They will help determine who is the personal representative authorized to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the estate of a deceased person against the persons or entities responsible for the victim’s death. Laws in Ohio govern the time frame in which a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed. Anyone with a potential case should consult with Petersen & Petersen immediately to determine which laws apply to them.
We look forward to putting our experience to work for you. Because they can be complex cases, it is important to select a wrongful death lawyer with a proven track record. The following are two recent results:
$17,000,000 Wrongful Death Settlement in Gas Explosion Trial
Attorneys Susan and Todd Petersen recently obtained a $17 million settlement for the death of an 87 year old man and his surviving 89 year old wife who were victims of a natural gas home explosion and fire on day five of trial. Two and a half months before the explosion, the couple had purchased an electric dryer from a retailer. As part of the purchase price , they paid for removal and haul away of their existing gas dryer. Explosion investigators discovered that the gas line in the basement, which sat directly behind the new dryer had been left uncapped and the valve to the line was found partially open. Capping of unused gas lines is required by law in Ohio, not to mention being the most basic of appliance installation rules. Through sworn depositions and via discovery of internal documents, the Petersens uncovered evidence that the retailer had cut expenses in its delivery and haul away services, forcing subcontracted companies to do more with less. The Petersen firm alleged that all of the entities in the chain of delivery were responsible for the tragic home explosion and resulting death and injuries to the widow and this entire family. The lawsuit included claims for negligent removal of the gas appliance, negligent hiring, training, supervision and retention, and punitive damages.
$2,000,000 Wrongful Death Settlement in Negligent Prescription Case
Petersen & Petersen is proud to report obtaining a confidential settlement of the policy limits available in a wrongful death case against a physician and practice for negligent drug prescribing. The physician prescribed the drug Aldactone, a diuretic and antihypertensive medication, after the patient complained of hair loss, despite no research into off-label usage of the drug. The prescription was given for purely cosmetic reasons. The drug was contraindicated for this patient based upon the drug manufacturer’s warnings, but the physician prescribed anyway. Punitive damages were alleged based upon evidence that the doctor – in the month before the patient’s death – increased the dosage, despite having lowered it at a prior visit with knowledge of an elevated potassium level that caused her to be hypokalemic – a dangerous condition that impacts the electrical activity of the heart. The doctor then failed to order timely lab work to monitor her potassium level. Less than one month on the contraindicated high dose, the woman suffered an arrhythmia and cardiac arrest due to hypokalemia. She died within days of the event.