Yes, punitive damages can be recovered in a wrongful death case in Ohio in some circumstances. If you have questions about the damages you may recover in Ohio, you can contact a Columbus personal injury law firm for a free consultation.
If your relative lost their life due to someone else’s negligence, you might have a case to receive compensation for your loss through both compensatory and punitive damages.
What Are Punitive Damages?
The courts do not award punitive damages to help you pay for your loved one’s final medical bills or funeral costs. Such damages are “compensatory” because they compensate you for damages you suffered due to your loved one’s death.
In contrast, punitive damages are a form of punishment. They are meant to deter the defendant and others from performing bad behaviors and actions in the future. The financial penalty of punitive damages signals to others that the defendant’s behavior is unacceptable.
For example, let’s say a drunk driver ran a red light and sideswiped your loved one’s vehicle, causing fatal injuries. In this case, an Ohio court may force the drunk driver to pay your family punitive damages to discourage drunk driving from the defendant and others in the future.
Conditions for Punitive Damages Under Ohio Law
Ohio Revised Code 2315.21 allows a civil court to award punitive damages if:
- The plaintiff was eligible for and received compensatory damages.
- The defendant intentionally acted with “malice or aggravated or egregious fraud” or purposely caused the victim’s injuries.
Caps on Punitive Damages in Ohio
Ohio has a cap on the amount of punitive damages you can collect. Punitive damages can be a maximum of twice the amount of compensatory damages awarded in the case. If the defendant is a small business or individual, punitive damages are limited to 10 percent of their net worth or a maximum of $350,000. These are exceptions to the cap.
Recoverable Compensatory Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim in Ohio
While a court may consider awarding punitive damages in certain circumstances, compensatory damages are far more common. When you file a wrongful death case, your attorney will first focus on your recoverable economic and noneconomic damages. Per Ohio Revised Code Section 2125.02, these damages may include:
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of services
- Loss of companionship, care, and assistance
- Loss of inheritance
- Mental anguish of survivors
- Funeral and burial costs
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Ohio
If your family lost a loved one due to negligence, you must take certain steps if you want to pursue compensation. You should reach out to a legal representative who handles wrongful death cases to review your case. After your wrongful death attorney determines that you have a likely claim, you can start preparing your personal injury case.
Your attorney will help you file all the necessary forms to initiate your case. They will be aware of any time limitations to follow. They will gather evidence in your case, interview witnesses, and review medical records. The facts of your case will help your attorney determine where to begin negotiating your settlement.
After you are awarded compensatory damages in your case, your attorney can file a motion to collect punitive damages. Your case will go before a jury trial, where your attorney will demonstrate your qualification for punitive damages. The jury will make the final decision in your case and decide how much to award you in punitive damages.
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It can be emotionally challenging when you and your family face a wrongful death suit. When selecting representation, you deserve to work with a law firm that has successfully represented wrongful death suits in your area.
Contact Us Now for a Free Case Review
If you need help with a wrongful death claim in Ohio, contact us at the Fitch Law Firm LLC. Our attorneys understand that it can be challenging for you to face a lawsuit after a loss. We can seek to hold those responsible for the loss of your family member accountable and allow you to recover compensation for your future.
A complimentary review can help you discover your legal options to make a better, more informed decision. We can help you with your questions about your claim and if your case might qualify for punitive litigation. You can also check our case results and testimonials to learn more about our firm. Call us today to get started.
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