State pays out millions in wrongful death claims

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Newly-revealed information shows that the state of Ohio has been deemed at least partially responsible for more than 20 wrongful deaths during the past 10 years. Since 2003, the state has paid cash settlements to 22 plaintiffs’ families, according to recent reports, with more than $13.9 million awarded in non-medical wrongful death cases.

Two of the largest payouts occurred during the early months of 2013, when the Ohio Department of Transportation was sued for negligence. That department is among the most embattled, as it is most likely to be sued in connection with injuries and wrongful death incidents. Twelve cases are currently pending against ODOT, which has been sued more than 50 times and spent $9.8 million on settlements in the past decade.

A May 21 ruling awarded the family of a Muskingum County woman some $4 million after her car was hit by a falling tree in 2008. The woman’s young son was injured in the incident; it was proven that the state knew about the tree’s instability but failed to fix the problem. Another $3.3 million award was awarded to the family of a woman who was killed in a head-on collision in 2008. The other driver had swerved to avoid potholes that had been left unfilled by ODOT. Appeals are possible in both cases.

Still, winning a wrongful death suit against the state is a relative long shot. Nearly three-quarters of cases are dismissed before they ever get to trial. The state is most likely to settle those cases that appear bound for trial, with 17 plaintiffs receiving money before presenting in front of a jury.

If your relative has been injured or killed because of state negligence, consider seeking the assistance of a skilled personal injury attorney. These professionals can help determine whether your case is likely to be considered valid by the courts. They can also fight for your rights, helping you get the money you need and deserve in the aftermath of tragedy.

Source:  www.dispatch.com, “Wrongful deaths cost taxpayers millions” Randy Ludlow, Jun. 15, 2013