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Michael J. Duber and Brandon T. Duber

Proving negligence in a wrongful death case

Jul 6, 2023 |

Losing a loved one unexpectedly can ruin an entire life, especially if the death is caused by someone else’s negligence. Victims are often left struggling financially and emotionally, with pain that never goes away.

While nothing can bring back your loved one, pursuing a wrongful death action can potentially provide you with some compensation for your damages. Some forms of damages you could recover in Ohio include past and future medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Duty of care

Prevailing in a wrongful death action requires proving negligence. This means you must prove that the person or entity responsible for your loved one’s death failed in their legal duty of care and that failure caused the death.

For example, if your loved one is killed in a car accident by a drunk driver, you must show that the driver had a duty to drive soberly, and they did not.

Actual and proximate cause

You must then prove that their drunk driving caused the accident. There are two types of cause that you must show: actual cause and proximate cause.

In the drunk driving example, actual cause means that showing the vehicle driven by the drunk driver hit and killed your loved one. Proximate cause means the drunk driver must have foreseen that their action of driving drunk would cause harm.


Finally, you must prove your damages. This is usually done through documentation that backs up the amount of compensation you are asking for.

Examples of documentation include medical bills, wage statements or receipts of any other expenses associated with the death. In cases involving pain and suffering, testimony or reports from a therapist or counselor could help prove your damages.

Putting a dollar value on human life is extremely difficult, and a judge examines various factors when calculating damages. Having a professional on your side can increase your chance of a favorable outcome.