Chapter 4: Wrongful Death of a Child

Wrongful death of a child in OhioFew events in life are more tragic than the death of a child. Clearly no amount of money will ever bring back the child or make up for such a devastatingly sad loss.

Nevertheless, the law recognizes such a claim and gives a parent specific rights against the responsible party. The recovery of monetary compensation may play a part in holding the responsible party accountable for the death and prevent a similar occurrence from happening to another child in the future. A wrongful death claim may also help the parents throughout their grieving and healing process.

Ohio authorizes a parent to recover damages for the loss of a minor child if the parent has regularly contributed to the support of that child.

The issue of whether a parent regularly contributed to the support of their child is considered legally as a question of fact. This indicates that there is no specific definition of what it means to regularly contribute to the support of the child. Any determination will depend on the specific facts of the case. In the end, a judge or jury will weigh the evidence and the facts to determine whether a parent has proven that he or she supported the child during the child’s lifetime.

Wrongful Death of an Unborn Fetus

Ohio wrongful death laws apply to an unborn fetus if the fetus was viable. Usually a viable fetus is one that was healthy and capable of independent life—carried for approximately 24 to 28 weeks. The wrongful death of that fetus is a recognized cause of action under the law.

Damages for Wrongful Death of a Child

The damages recoverable for the death of a child include medical, hospital and medication expenses, and the loss of consortium (love, companionship, services and support) that the child provided to the parents. The parents are also entitled to recover damages for the loss of financial support that the parents may have received from the child.

To recover lost financial support the parents will usually have to show a history of receiving support from the child before the child’s death.

The parents may also recover damages for the loss of love and companionship of the child and for injury to or destruction of, the parent-child relationship. The actual amount recoverable will depend on the facts of an individual case but will typically depend on factors such as the age, health, and capacity of the child as well as the particular situation of the surviving parents.

Damages for the loss of love and companionship of the child and for injury to or destruction of the parent-child relationship may also encompass recovery for the parents’ own grief, mental anguish, or suffering caused by the death of their child. These damages may be reflected in each parent’s need for individual expenses caused by the child’s death such as the expense of reasonable and necessary psychological treatment, counseling, and medication. Oftentimes it will be important to present expert psychiatric or psychological testimony to support the parent’s claim for these damages.

Selecting an attorney in a case involving a child is very important as they should have experience settling or litigating these delicate types of cases. One challenging aspect of a case involving the wrongful death of a child is in proving the amount of damages the parents may be entitled to receive.

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