What are wrongful death claims and survival actions?

When someone dies in a needless event that's the result of carelessness, negligence, or outright reckless behavior, that's called a wrongful death -- it's a death that could have been easily prevented if the proper precautions had been taken.

Many people don't understand, however, how wrongful death claims work -- which can cause them to miss out on important benefits. While no amount of money can bring your loved one back to you, compensation for his or her death can help you raise your family, pay off debts accumulated after his or her death and give you time to recover emotionally. Here are some things you should know about wrongful death claims in Ohio.

1. Ohio law recognizes two types of claims for a needless death: a wrongful death action and a survival action. Most claims have to be filed within 2 years of the victim's death.

2. Wrongful death claims are family-focused. They can be brought by the representative of the deceased's estate or by the deceased's surviving spouse, children and parents. Sometimes they can be brought by other next of kin to the deceased, but generally only when that person was financially dependent on the deceased.

3. Wrongful death claims focus on the losses that the family has suffered as a result of the death. Compensation can include a variety of different forms:

-- The support dependents would have received based on the victim's projected future lifetime earnings

-- The cost of any services that the deceased did for the survivors that they now have to purchase, like cleaning or personal care

-- Loss of the victim's companionship, guidance, protection, consortium, care, advice and attention

-- The mental anguish suffered by the survivors related to how the deceased died or just the death in general

-- Costs related to the victim's funeral

4. Survival actions are focused on the victim of the needless death. If the victim died instantly and without knowledge of his or her impending death, there generally isn't any survival action available. A survival action is essentially what the victim would have been entitled to press as a personal injury claim had he or she survived, and it includes pain and suffering and hospital bills.

Anyone who has lost a close relative through a tragic but avoidable death should consider contacting an attorney for advice about a wrongful death claim.

Source: codes.ohio.gov, "LAWriter Ohio Laws and Rules Chapter 2125: Action For Wrongful Death," accessed April 12, 2017

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