The phrase “wrongful death” often seems like nothing more than a legal abstraction. However, a recent jury verdict in favor of a Mentor, Ohio resident demonstrates the true meaning of wrongful death.
The lawsuit was brought by the husband of a woman who died from injuries suffered in a collision with a school bus operated by the Mentor school district. The decedent was driving west on Route 84 when the east bound school bus crossed into her lane and slammed into her car. The woman died of injuries at a nearby hospital shortly after the crash.
After deliberating for parts of two consecutive days, the jury awarded $1.26 million to the woman’s husband. The plaintiff’s lawyer argued that he deserved $3 million for his wife’s pain and suffering before she died and for the loss of his wife’s companionship during her remaining life expectancy of 23.8 years. The jury found that both the bus driver and the deceased woman contributed to the crash but allocated 54% of the fault to the bus driver and 46% to the woman. The jury will now be asked to deliberate and return a verdict on the plaintiff’s request for punitive damages. After the jury finishes its work, the trial judge will allocate the total damages according to Ohio’s comparative fault statute.
An appeal in any case involving millions of dollars in damages is always a candidate for an appeal. The case is far from over, and it could last another year or longer until all appeals are resolved. Anyone who has lost a spouse or other loved one in a traffic accident may wish to consult a lawyer who handles wrongful death claims for advice on the law and facts of the case and for an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for pain and suffering and loss of companionship.
Source: The News-Herald, “Jury awards $1.26M to spouse of Mentor woman killed in school bus crash,” Andrew Cass, Feb. 10, 2017