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Understand your rights after a close relative's wrongful death

If you've lost a close relative due to the negligence of another party, you may be able to file a claim under Ohio's wrongful death laws. You may also be able to file what's known as a survival action on the behalf of the deceased.

Below is what you need to understand about these two distinctly different claims.

Wrongful death actions

A wrongful death claim is all about the burden placed on the survivors of the deceased. In Ohio, the only people who can automatically file a wrongful death claim are the spouse, children and surviving parents of the deceased. All of these individuals are presumed to have lost something due to their loved one's absence in their lives — whether it's the benefit of the wages the deceased would have earned and contributed toward a household or the attention and care the deceased would have provided.

Some of the possible damages you can claim include:

  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of services
  • Loss of companionship, care and guidance
  • Loss of future inheritance
  • Emotional pain and suffering
  • Funeral expenses

It is possible for other people to file a wrongful death claim, but only if they can prove that they were somehow dependent on the deceased.

Survival actions

A survival action is all about the pain, suffering and economic damages the deceased endured from the point of injury until death.

Survival actions are less well-known than wrongful death claims and can often be overlooked by attorneys who are less experienced. Like a wrongful death action, they can be brought by the deceased person's kin or estate representative, but they have some critical difference.

In particular, in a survival action, a judge or jury can award punitive damages designed to punish the guilty party who caused the victim's suffering. Punitive damages are not available in wrongful death claims.

There are many other subtle differences between a wrongful death claim and a survival action. Our office can help you better understand more about these two distinct types of claims and your options for the future.

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