What Happens to A Car Crash Victim Files A Claim Before Passing Away?
Filing a claim after a car accident occurs is just the first step of what can often be a long process. There is no set time limit on how long it might take for a personal injury claim from a car crash to move through the entire legal process. And sometimes, in the most unfortunate situations, the accident victim may pass away from their injuries from the car crash or unrelated reasons before the claim is finished.
This can raise a number of questions for surviving family members such as what will happen to the original claim that was filed and what can the surviving family members do about the accident now.
Below, we take a look at what can happen to a car crash victim claim file if they have passed away before the end of the legal process.
Note: The following is not legal advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. Speak with an attorney for assistance on your case.
What Happens to a Car Crash Victim Claim File if They Pass Away?
Ohio state law tells us exactly what happens to a car crash victim claim file after they have passed away.
According to Section 2305.21 of the Ohio Revised Code, a personal injury claim filed by the car accident victim will survive following their death.
So, if their case was pending and had yet to conclude, that means their personal injury case will continue on as what is known as a survival action.
Another important element to note about this particular section of the Ohio Revised Code is that the cause of death of the original victim does not have to be directly related to the personal injury case either. This means that the original claim can continue on.
The continuation of the car crash victim claim file as a survival action will usually be carried out by a family member or other individual that oversees the victim’s estate and affairs.
An important note on survival actions – while they do carry on the personal claim that was filed, they do focus on damages tied to things like injuries from the accident and additional pain and suffering.
If you are unsure if you might be able to continue a survival action or if you have questions tied to it, speak with an experienced Columbus car crash attorney.
Wrongful Death Claims
There is another type of legal action that family members of a loved one can file on their behalf following their death. This legal action is known as a wrongful death claim.
A wrongful death claim is something that can be sought “when the death of a person is caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default which would have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued”, as defined by Section 2125.01 of the Ohio Revised Code.
In non-legalese, when someone else’s negligence causes the death of a loved one, even months after the accident, a family member can look at pursuing a wrongful death claim.
The time frame for a family member or representative to file a wrongful death claim in Ohio is within 2 years of the victim’s death.
In some cases, you may be able to file both a wrongful death claim and a survival action simultaneously. Be sure to consult with a Columbus car crash attorney before moving forward with either option. They can provide insightful legal advice and guidance.
Differences in Compensation between Wrongful Death Claims and Survival Action
There are some differences between wrongful death claims and survival action. These differences include what kind of damages you might receive from both and how the compensation will be distributed.
For a survival action, the damages that may be recovered are tied more to the injuries and pain and suffering after the accident that the victim dealt with while they were still alive. These damages can include:
- Medical bill costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Surviving family members can file a survival action, but usually the estate of the victim will receive any compensation that is awarded.
The potential damages for a wrongful death claim include:
- Loss of support from the victim, dependent on their earning capacity
- Loss of love, companionship, and mentorship
- Lost wages
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses
- Loss of benefits such as insurance, retirement plans, and more
- The mental anguish that surviving family members suffer from the loss
Compensation awarded from a wrongful death claim will be distributed to any beneficiaries such as a surviving spouse, children, or parents of the victim.
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