Policy Limit Recovery On Ohio Wrongful Death Case

by Dean Pavick on August 29, 2019

We represented the estate (Plaintiff) of a divorced father with two adult, financially-independent children who was killed on a four lane highway when his motorcycle struck a car which was traveling across an intersecting country road. The father was killed instantly. There were arguments presented that the motorcycle was speeding, that the deceased lost his right-of-way by driving on a prohibited freeway with a temporary motorcycle restrictions permit which also required the wearing of a helmet. There were arguments presented that, as the father died instantly, there was no survival action (damages recoverable on behalf of the father). Additionally there were legal arguments presented that, even if there were damages recoverable in the wrongful death case, the amount of monetary damages were small as the adult son had an extremely  minimum relationship with his father and that the adult daughter was financially independent and, for the most part, only saw her father on an occasional basis. We presented evidence, through independent witnesses, that the father screamed before impact consciously aware that he was about to die or suffer substantial bodily harm(recovery in survival action case). We also presented evidence that the adult daughter had recently formed a more frequent relationship with her father before his death establishing loss of society and mental anguish. We presented, to a lesser extent, similar damages suffered by the adult son. Additionally, we presented legal evidence that the Ohio Highway Patrol accident reconstruction expert determined that the deceased’s speed was only slightly above the speed limit, that the Ohio statute regarding restrictions imposed by a temporary motorcycle restrictions permit pertained to criminal cases (ie. vehicular manslaughter) rather than civil Ohio personal injury cases; that the testimony of the independent witnesses and the findings of the accident reconstruction expert established that the defendant suddenly drove her car directly into the path of the motorcycle and that the deceased had absolutely no time to stop, lay down the bike or avoid the collision. The defendant (with minimal assets) carried a $250,000 single policy limit under her auto insurance. The wrongful death and survival actions were ultimately settled for the $250,000 policy limits with approval by the probate court. The approved settlement proceeds were divided between the surviving daughter and son as the other statutory beneficiaries waived their recovery rights.

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