According to Columbus police, a homeowner shot and killed a burglar who was breaking into his home on October 17. As police continue to investigate, the incident raises questions about whether the estate of a burglar can file for a wrongful death in a case such as this one.

Ohio wrongful death law states that wrongful death lawsuits can be brought in cases that might also be considered “aggravated murder, murder, or manslaughter.” However, the law also states that

No action for the wrongful death of a person may be maintained against the owner or lessee of the real property upon which the death occurred if the cause of the death was the violent unprovoked act of a party other than the owner, lessee, or a person under the control of the owner or lessee, unless the acts or omissions of the owner, lessee, or person under the control of the owner or lessee constitute gross negligence.

Which leads us to wonder several things about this particular case that can only be resolved with further police investigation. First, is the attempted burglary construable as a “violent unprovoked act”? Next, could the homeowner be considered grossly negligent in some way in the circumstances of this case?

If you have lost a loved one in a violent incident, it can be hard to know whether you may be able to file a wrongful death over the incident at first. Once the criminal case is resolved, you may have a better idea based on the information that has come forward, but it is important that you do not wait too long in filing your case, as the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit is only two years.

For more information about your legal rights and options after the death of a loved one, please contact Robert W. Kerpsack, CO, LPA today for a free case evaluation.