Probate refers to a court-supervised process that administers a deceased or incapacitated person's estate. Probate is also one division of the Court of Common Pleas in Ohio. Besides handling issues involving estates and the guardianship of incompetent individuals, probate courts in Ohio also hear matters involving the name change of adults and minors.
Probate Courts resolve issues including marriage licenses, minor settlements, and many other matters. While it might seem unlikely that a deceased person’s estate or other probate related matter would be involved in a personal injury lawsuit, these issues arise in a surprisingly large number of cases. For this reason, it can help to understand some basic details about the intersection of personal injury and probate matters.
Wrongful Death Actions
If a person dies in a car accident or other catastrophe that occurs in Ohio, it is possible to file a wrongful death action. Ohio law, however, requires the representative of the deceased person's estate to file a wrongful death action in probate court. The court will then appoint a representative to handle this matter unless a deceased person has appointed someone in their will or other estate planning document.
While wrongful death cases might seem like a lot of work if you have just lost a loved one, they can result in the award of helpful compensation including costs related to medical treatment received by the deceased person and costs faced by the surviving family members.
When an Accident Victim Dies Before a Lawsuit is Filed
Following car accidents and other catastrophic accidents in Ohio, victims sometimes experience serious medical complications. Sometimes, before a lawsuit can be filed, the accident victim ends up passing away. In these situations, the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate can pursue the personal injury claim.
If a will or estate planning document does not contain such a designation, this person will be appointed by an Ohio probate court. These lawsuits are often referred to as survival actions because they preserve the deceased party's right to pursue a personal injury action against the responsible party. The appointed party in this situation assumes the cause of action.
Nearly all parents want their children to remain safe and free from harm. Unfortunately, each year in Ohio, children end up harmed in car accidents, by medical malpractice, and from a variety of other types of personal injury accidents. Another area of personal injury where probate can play a role is when minor settlements are involved.
These cases occur when a child under the age of 18 receives assets from the settlement of a personal injury claim or wrongful death settlement. Before assets can be transferred to the minor’s control, the probate court must approve the settlement of the minor’s claim or right to receive the assets. Once the Ohio Probate Court approves the minor settlement, the terms of the settlement are binding on the minor.
If you have been injured don’t hesitate to reach out to a local personal injury attorney to discuss your options.