July 15, 2019

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Common Law Marriage and Wrongful Death in Ohio

Common law marriage is not as simple as people often believe. Ohio no longer allows common-law marriages to be formed, but recognizes those formed in the state prior to October 10, 1991 as well as those that are legally formed in other states that still allow it. So, the first real question is whether you had a legally binding common-law marriage. If so, you are the surviving spouse. If not, wrongful death compensation is not available to you, but you may benefit from a survival action.

Ohio Wrongful Death

In Ohio, the spouse, children, and parents of the deceased can receive wrongful death compensation. They are presumed to have suffered losses as a result of the death. Other family members are allowed to recover compensation if they can prove that they have suffered losses.

Examples of wrongful death damages include:

  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Loss of services, such as child care and home maintenance
  • Loss of companionship and affection
  • Your mental anguish

Punitive damages are not available in Ohio wrongful death lawsuits.

Survival Action

A survival action is representative of the damages the deceased could have recovered if they had survived their injuries. This includes:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages

Money won in a survival action is paid to the estate. If you discover that you do not qualify as a spouse because you did not have a valid common-law marriage, or if you are unable to prove that you had a valid common-law marriage, a survival action can increase your inheritance if you are named in the will.

Learn more about Ohio wrongful death and common-law marriage by contacting an experienced Ohio wrongful death lawyer.

About Sandra Dalton

With a background as a paralegal, focusing on criminal defense and civil rights, Sandra Dalton launched her freelance writing career in 2000 with a weekly column on Freedom for Suite 101 and pro bono projects for individuals and organizations supporting causes close to her heart. One of her first projects was for the Police Compliant Center writing about police misconduct. Sandra’s legal writing quickly expanded to include personal injury, animal welfare, criminal defense, disability discrimination, family law and much more.

Sandra’s other writing around the web includes a broad range of topics such as food, pet health, feral cats, music and film. Sandra is also a fine art photographer, helps with animal rescue and TNR in her community, and volunteers as a DJ at her local radio station.