Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim in Ohio

Death is a tragedy, no matter the cause, but some are particularly devastating because they would not have happened were it not for someone else’s negligence. Though no amount of money can bring back your loved one, Ohio law allows surviving relatives to bring a wrongful death claim against the responsible party.

At Bensinger Legal Services, our seasoned legal team is ready to help you fight. We will collect evidence, construct your claim, and calculate damages. Contact us at (419) 455-1410 today for a free consultation.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim provides an opportunity for surviving relatives to hold the party who negligently or intentionally caused their loved one’s death responsible.

Ohio law states that surviving relatives can bring a wrongful death claim against the party whose wrongful act, neglect, or failure to act caused the death of their loved one if their loved one would have been able to bring an action for damages had they not been killed.

How Do You Prove Wrongful Death in Ohio?

The elements of a wrongful death claim are usually very similar to those of a personal injury case—duty, breach, causation, and damages. You must establish each of these to be successful in a wrongful death claim.

Duty of Care

The surviving relatives must prove that the party they are suing for the death of their loved one owed them a duty of care. For example, if another driver killed your loved one in a car accident, the driver responsible for the accident had a duty to drive safely and follow the traffic laws.

If your loved one died in a slip and fall accident, the owner or operator of the premises had a duty to keep their premises free from dangers and repair any defects.

Breach of Duty

Next, you must prove that the party you are suing breached their duty of care. In the car accident example, you must prove the party did not drive safely or disobeyed the traffic laws. Driving while intoxicated, speeding, and distracted driving are all ways a driver can breach their duty of care.

For the slip and fall example, suppose a property owner or operator knew a shelf was loose and did not repair it. Later, it falls and strikes a customer on the head. Or, suppose the owner or operator failed to put a “wet floor” sign. These are examples where the owner or operator failed to correct a known issue and thus breached their duty of care.

Speak with an experienced Ohio Wrongful Death lawyer for help


For causation, you must prove that the party’s breach of duty directly caused the accident that led to the death of your loved one. 

For a car accident, you must prove that the driver’s speeding or distracted driving caused the accident. In the slip and fall, you must establish that the accident would not have occurred had the premise owner or operator not failed to warn of the wet floor or repair the loose shelf.


Lastly, you must prove your loved one suffered injury directly caused by the other party’s breach of duty. Ohio law allows for recovery of the following damages:

  • Loss of decedent’s financial support,
  • Loss of decedent’s services,
  • Loss of companionship,
  • Loss of consortium,
  • Loss of care and assistance,
  • Loss of protection,
  • Loss of advice and guidance,
  • Loss of training,
  • Loss of education,
  • Loss of inheritance to decedent’s heirs, and
  • Mental anguish.

Damage calculations can be complex. Our seasoned legal team knows how to prove wrongful death and calculate damages.

How Long Do You Have to Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Ohio?

Ohio law provides a two-year statute of limitations to bring a wrongful death claim. Once this deadline passes, the law prevents you from bringing a claim, except for certain exceptions. The two-year deadline usually starts to run on the day of your loved one’s death. 

Note the start date is not the day of the accident or incident that caused their death. For example, suppose your loved one slipped on a wet floor at a coffee shop and fell down the stairs. They suffered a traumatic brain injury and died as a result three weeks later. The wrongful death action starts to accrue on the day of their death, not the day of the accident three weeks prior.

Get Answers from an Experienced Ohio Wrongful Death Attorney

Wrongful death claims can get complicated quickly, especially if there are multiple parties involved. Don’t try to navigate these murky legal waters alone. Get help from Bensinger Legal Services.

Founder Aaron L. Bensinger’s mission is to help victims and families get the justice they deserve. Let us put our years of experience to work for you and your family. Contact our office at (419) 455-1410 for a no-risk, free case evaluation today. 

Author Photo Aaron L. Bensinger

Aaron L. Bensinger is an Ohio attorney serving personal injury and civil litigation clients. He has extensive trial experience and makes client service is his primary focus. As a partner at Balyeat, Leahy, Daley, Miller & Bensinger, LLC, Aaron happily works in Lima, OH, and serves the entire Northwest region of the state and beyond.

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