A primer on wrongful death in Ohio

If a loved one is injured by the negligence or careless conduct of another person, you may already know that they can sue the responsible party for any losses they incur. However, if he or she is killed because of the conduct, what happens then? Although the decedent is not alive to file the lawsuit, compensation may still be sought in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Overview of wrongful death

A wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate when your loved one is killed because of the neglect, default or wrongful act of another person. To put it another way, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed virtually any time the actions of the responsible party would have been grounds for your loved one to sue them, had he or she lived. As a result, this type of lawsuit is commonly filed because of fatal car accidents, medical malpractice, dangerous or defective products and other acts of negligence.

Sometimes, the negligent acts can also be criminal in nature. In such cases, the wrongful death lawsuit is separate from any criminal charges. Because of this, your right to file or the outcome of your lawsuit is not affected by the separate criminal proceedings.

In Ohio, wrongful death lawsuits are unique in the sense that the aggrieved parties cannot file them directly. Instead, the personal representative of the decedent's estate must file the wrongful death action. However, any damages recovered in the lawsuit are distributed to eligible family members according to the law.

Under the law in Ohio, it is presumed that the spouse, children and parents of the decedent suffered losses in a wrongful death lawsuit. As a result, compensation is limited to them in most cases. However, if other family members can prove that they suffered a loss that is compensable, they can recover under the lawsuit as well.

Under Ohio law, losses that may be compensated in a wrongful death lawsuit are varied; they include losses such as:

• Loss of the decedent's earning capacity

• Mental anguish

• Loss of inheritance

• Loss of decedent's services

• Loss of instruction, care, advice and companionship

Any compensation recovered in the lawsuit is distributed to eligible parties according to the law. In a nutshell, how much each party receives depends on their degree of relation to the decedent.

An attorney can help

Unfortunately, wrongful death lawsuits cannot bring your loved one back to life. However, by allowing you to recover your financial and emotional losses, they can allow you to move on with your life more easily. To learn more about your right to recover compensation following the negligent death of a loved one, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can ensure that you receive fair and adequate compensation for your losses.