Damages family members may seek in an Ohio wrongful death case

When someone dies as a result of someone else's actions or behavior, the family members of the decedent can seek recompense through a wrongful death action. It may be either willful wrongdoing or gross negligence that causes the death, and the defendant in a wrongful death case can be either an individual or a larger entity. The family members must demonstrate that they have suffered damages as the result of the death. Ohio state law presumes that certain individuals suffer direct loss as a result of a loved one's death and therefore have grounds to bring a wrongful death suit. These individuals include the decedent's children, spouses and parents.

According to FindLaw, in some wrongful death cases, another individual's criminal behavior causes the death. An example would be if the decedent died in a motor vehicle accident caused by someone who was driving under the influence. Other accidents that could result in a wrongful death case include fires, medical malpractice, defective products or exposure to harmful substances during the course of employment.

Damages awarded can include the loss of support from the decedent's income or loss of future inheritance. The damages can also be more intangible, however, such as the loss of the decedent's guidance, protection or companionship, as well as emotional distress caused by a family member's death.

Ohio law further stipulates if the decedent's children are minors, a representative will bring the suit on the minor children's behalf, and a child who was born subsequent to the decedent's death but conceived prior is still a beneficiary. If a minor child is the decedent, the child's parents may bring a wrongful death suit. However, a parent who abandoned the minor prior to his or her death may not benefit from action taken in a wrongful death case.

For a wrongful death claim to be valid, no more than two years can have elapsed since the time of the death. The personal representative of the decedent's family can file a wrongful death suit in Ohio even if the illegal or negligent act that caused the death occurred outside the state.


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