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Understanding wrongful death cases in Ohio

Most Ohioans understand that a person injured because of the negligence of another person may recover damages from that person in a lawsuit. But what happens when the victim of the accident is killed? Can anyone sue the negligent party for damages? The answer is “yes” but the case must comply with an Ohio law entitled “Action for Wrongful Death.” In this post, we will outline the key provisions of this law.

The statute creates a right to seek damages – called a “cause of action” – for a death caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default” which would have entitled the decedent to sue if death “had not ensued.” The lawsuit must be brought by the personal representative of the estate of the decedent for the exclusive benefit of the “surviving spouse, the children, and the parents of the decedent” and other next of kin of the decedent. If the person who is alleged to have been at fault has died, the case may be brought against the administrator or executor of that person’s estate.

The surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased are presumed to have suffered damages because of the death, although this presumption can be rebutted by evidence introduced at trial. Specific items of compensatory damage include loss of economic support from the earning capacity of the decedent, loss of services of the decedent, loss of the society and companionship of the deceased, loss of a prospective inheritance and mental anguish of the survivors.

Anyone who has lost a parent, spouse, child or other loved one in an accident caused by negligent or wrongful act of another person may wish to consult an attorney who specializes in such cases. A knowledgeable lawyer can provide helpful advice on the facts and law that apply to the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages.

Source: Ohio Revised Code Ch. 2125, Action for Wrongful Death, accessed on Sep. 25, 2016

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