Wrongful death claims are adjudicated differently in each state concerning who actually has the standing to file. While some states only allow the decedent’s estate to file, others make allowances for the survivors to file a separate claim aside from any estate inclusion. Ohio law is specific regarding who can file a wrongful death action as the state allows families to file separate legal claims against any grossly negligent actors in addition to any potential personal injury claim for damages between the time an injury occurred and the eventual death.
Immediate family standing
The first person in line with the right to sue for wrongful death is the legal spouse of the decedent. Many times, the spouse will also include the children as well when claiming loss of consortium, future financial support, and a relationship with a spouse and parent. The standing to sue can also extend to those who are directly dependent on the decedent for financial support, including adults with guardianship over their support and personal affairs. This legal action is separate from any personal injury claim the decedent may have pending.
There are also situations in which a wrongful death victim will have no immediate family who is automatically granted standing under Ohio law. Sans any immediate family, the standing to represent the estate is then assigned to either the parents of the decedent, if they are still alive, or any siblings if the parents are deceased. This standing also applies as a personal representative in any personal injury or probate cases that also exist in the aftermath.
The assignment of standing when it comes to suing for wrongful death can also be contested when there is little to no family with automatic standing. Case filings can easily become very complicated when legal standing to sue is in question.