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Damages Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Action


In Ohio, the personal representative of a person who dies because of the negligence or wrongful act of another party may file an action for wrongful death on behalf of the decedent's surviving spouse, children, parents and next of kin. The action must be filed within two years of the person's death. A judge determines the damages that are awarded unless the action goes before a jury, at which time the jury makes the decision on damages.

The recoverable damages that a court or jury might award in a wrongful death action include compensation for the mental anguish that the surviving family members have suffered and their loss of the decedent's services. The survivors could be awarded money for the loss of reasonably expected financial support and prospective inheritance from the decedent. A court or jury may also award compensation for the survivors' loss of consortium, guidance, protection, advice and training.

In addition, a court or jury might award the reasonable funeral and burial costs that the survivors incurred because of their loved one's death. The personal representative in an action for damages could present evidence regarding annuity costs as well to secure a larger award for recoverable future damages. If the court or jury considers the evidence, the cost of the annuity is its value at the time it is presented as evidence.

If a person dies in a factory blast, for example, and the cause of the blast is determined as the negligent or wrongful act of the operator of the factory, the personal representative for the deceased has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the operator on behalf of the survivors. The surviving spouse, for instance, might be awarded compensation for funeral and burial costs and for the loss of financial support. Damages for the loss of potential inheritance could be awarded if the worker had children.

Source: Ohio Laws and Rules, "2125.01 Action for wrongful death.", October 13, 2014