The Administrator of their estate.
Let’s start out with an example. Joe is hit by a truck, has serious injuries, and survives for a week before he dies from the injuries.
If Joe had not died, he would be able to recover money for his medical bills, his pain and suffering, and the wages he lost for that week. Joe obviously cannot file suit – he is dead. But under Ohio law, his estate – which is run by an administrator appointed by the court – is allowed to bring a lawsuit for the medical bills, pain and suffering, and the lost wages.
This is called the “survival” lawsuit – because the right to file a lawsuit survives Joe’s death, and belongs to his estate. Once the money is recovered for this, it is paid to the estate, and the administrator distributes it consistent with Joe’s will (if he has one) or consistent with the Ohio law for distributing property if there is no will.
But when someone dies, other people are hurt too, and maybe more.
Joe’s wife –and his children – no longer have his financial or emotional support. They – and possibly other relatives – are entitled to recover money from whoever killed Joe. In Ohio, these claims also must be filed by the administrator of the estate, who is acting on behalf of the wife, the children, or – if they are entitled to a claim – the other relatives. These claims are called the “wrongful death” claims.
The administrator – who is represented by a lawyer – has the job of presenting the claims to the insurance company for the person who caused Joe’s death, and taking to trial (through the lawyer) or settling both the survival claim and the wrongful death claims. The administrator must get approval for the settlement of the claims, and their amount, and the distribution of the settlement proceeds, from the probate court.
But who is the administrator? If Joe has a will, he has probably designated an administrator in the will. If Joe has no will, the law provides that his surviving spouse is the preferred administrator. If he has no spouse, or his spouse doesn’t want to be the administrator, then a relative may be serve.
But even if the will designates an administrator – or an executor, which is the same thing – the probate judge must formally appoint him to serve.
If you have someone who recently died because someone else made a mistake, this is very difficult. I can help you. Give me a call. I am Bill Strubbe, and I am a Cincinnati Personal Injury Lawyer.
There is no charge for talking to me. If you decide to hire another lawyer, or not to file suit at all, that’s Okay. But I can help you.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.