On September 29, 2016, Warren Stevens, 75, of Urbana, Ohio, as killed in an auto accident at the intersection of North Ludlow Road and Kanagy Road in West Liberty, Champaign County, Ohio. The accident was caused when the driver of a 1998 Ford Expedition, traveling westbound on Kanagy Road, failed to stop at the stop sign. The vehicle struck the 2014 Honda Accord going northbound on North Ludlow, which was being driven by Warren Stevens. The collision caused Mr. Steven’s vehicle to spin and strike a third vehicle, a 2003 Dodge Ram 2500, which was traveling southbound on North Lodlow Road, and was being driven by Tracy Leighty.
In addition to the fatal injuries incurred by Mr. Stevens, Tracy Leighty, Pauline Reed, and Kristen Reed also reported injuries.
Mr. Steven’s family should be able to recover for his wrongful death (see legal commentary below).
Source: Dayton Daily News
Legal Analysis on Wrongful Death and Survivorship Claims
You may be wondering if a person’s family can recover for the death of a loved one who died in an auto accident. The answer is that there are two related, yet distinct claims that can be made when a loved one dies in an auto accident that was not his fault.
The first and better known action is wrongful death. A wrongful death claim can be brought for the benefit of the decedent’s spouse, children, and parents, all of whom are presumed to have suffered by the death. The claim is brought by the administrator or executor of the estate. Ohio law dictates that compensatory damages for wrongful death can be calculated using the following five criteria: (1) Loss of support from the reasonably expected earning capacity of the decedent; (2) Loss of services of the decedent; (3) Loss of the society of the decedent, including loss of companionship, consortium, care, assistance, attention, protection, advice, guidance, counsel, instruction, training, and education, suffered by the surviving spouse, dependent children, parents, or next of kin of the decedent; (4) Loss of prospective inheritance to the decedent’s heirs at law at the time of the decedent’s death; (5) The mental anguish incurred by the surviving spouse, dependent children, parents, or next of kin of the decedent. Funeral and burial expenses are also compensable. You can read more about wrongful death claims here.
Many times a wrongful death claim is accompanied by a survival claim. A survival claim is based on the decedent’s personal injuries, pain, and suffering that he or she endured before death. If the death was quick and relatively painless, the survivorship claim may not have much monetary value. This claim is also brought by the administrator or executor of the estate; however, its benefits go to the estate itself. Frequently the same people will recover under both the wrongful death action and the survivorship action, but this is not always the case.
Legal Commentary on the Above Accident
In the above case, based on the available facts, the driver of the 1998 Ford Expedition’s insurance company should compensate the victims, especially Mr. Stevens’ family, but also Tracy Leighty.
The full extent of the wrongful death damages are difficult to calculate even with more information, but his age would indicate that his reasonably expected earning capacity might be low. However, that does not mean that a potential wrongful death claim wouldn’t have high damages. He was quite likely providing service and society to his family, and his death certainly caused others mental anguish.
The above article in the Dayton Daily News is unclear as to whether Mr. Stevens died instantly or, if not, how long he survived after the accident. If he died instantly, it is possible that the recovery for the survival claim may not be very high. Alternatively, the survivorship action recovery would be greater if Mr. Stevens initially survived the crash and died later.
Alex Freitag is an Ohio personal injury lawyer. He offers a free consultation. To get his help call 937-306-6410 or 1-800-447-6548. Find out what it feels like to get help from a lawyer that cares.
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