What Is Wrongful Death in Ohio?

Wrongful death is a legal cause of action that can be used to obtain compensation when someone dies as a result of the negligence of others. This cause of action addresses the general type of situation when an individual is killed and leaves behind loved ones, such as a spouse or children, who are harmed because of the wrongful death of the individual. This situation can happen because of car accidents, such as drunk driving crashes, truck accidents, and even medical malpractice.

The Ohio Survival Statute and Wrongful Death Statute

Wrongful death is an available cause of action when “the death of a person is caused by wrongful act, neglect, or carelessness which would have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages” had they not died. Wrongful death damages recoverable under the Ohio Wrongful death statute compensate the family members for their loss in the event of the person’s death. You can think of it as the legal system’s way of tying to preserve a way to right a wrong that would otherwise have expired with the harmed individual. The claim would be filed on behalf of the deceased person or in the name of the estate. Family members in Ohio can also recover money and damages for the pain and suffering that the individual who died suffered before his/her death in a separate claim under Ohio’s Survival Statute.

Who Can Recover Compensation Under a Wrongful Death Claim?

The personal representative of the estate, usually a spouse or family member, may bring suit and seek compensation on behalf of surviving family members. The people who are presumed to be harmed by an individual’s death, and therefore may seek compensation, are the spouse, biological and adopted children, and parents. A parent who abandoned the deceased child cannot recover, however, and a personal representative who knows or has reason to know the parent abandoned the deceased must notify the court. Siblings, grandparents, cousins, nieces, nephews and others are not presumed to be harmed, but if they can show there is some compensable harm, they may be able to seek compensation.

Types of Harms You Can Recover From Wrongful Death

The Ohio statutes state that you can recover for five types of damages:

  • Loss of support from the reasonably expected earning capacity of the decedent;
  • Loss of services of the decedent, which includes things like household chores, yard maintenance, and caring for children
  • Loss of the society of the decedent, including loss of companionship, consortium, care, assistance, attention, protection, advice, guidance, counsel, instruction, training, and education, suffered by the surviving spouse, dependent children, parents, or next of kin;
  • Loss of prospective inheritance to the decedent’s heirs at law at the time of the decedent’s death;
  • The mental anguish incurred by the surviving spouse, dependent children, parents, or next of kin; and
  • The pain and suffering that the individual who died suffered prior to his or her death.

In general, you only have only one year from the date of a person’s death to file a claim under Ohio’s Survival Statute, and two years from the date the individual passed away to file a claim under Ohio’s wrongful death statute, so do not sit on your rights. Attorney Tom Robenalt will sit down with you and talk about what legal options you may have in your unique situation. Contact our Cleveland, Ohio law firm today for a free, confidential consultation at (216) 223-7535 or fill out our online form.

Categories: Wrongful Death