People often wonder what kind of compensation do Indiana families get following a loved one’s wrongful death. Every state has laws governing wrongful death claims but they’re all a little different. If you’ve lost a loved one due to another party’s negligence, you may be wondering what you can claim in Indiana. Nothing will bring your loved one back. However, the law provides opportunities for you to get relief from the financial challenges caused by their passing. It may also help you to feel a sense of justice even if the responsible party also faces criminal sanctions.
What’s Considered Wrongful Death in Indiana?
Wrongful death is covered under Indiana Code 34-23-1. It is a situation in which the death of one person is caused by another person’s wrongful act or omission. A wrongful death claim is quite like a personal injury lawsuit. However, since the injured person died, they can’t be the plaintiff. Instead, their estate can step in and take action. The estate can establish liability on the part of the negligent entity and seek monetary damages.
A wrongful death claim is a civil action. However, the state can bring criminal charges against the defendant in some cases. This often happens in fatal car crashes. The criminal case is separate from the civil one. The deceased person’s estate has to file a wrongful death claim even if a criminal case is underway.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim?
The personal representative of the victim’s estate must file the wrongful death claim in Indiana. However, the individual’s spouse, children, and other dependents can receive damages. If more than one person is eligible to recover damages, the court will decide how to divide the total amount.
When the deceased is a child, one or both of their parents must file the case. In a situation where the parents are divorced, the parent with legal custody needs to file the claim. If the parents are deceased or they no longer have parental rights, the child’s legal guardian must file. If you have any concerns about what should apply in your situation, reach out to an experienced Indianapolis wrongful death lawyer.
Regardless of who is filing the claim, they must do it within two years of the individual’s death. If they don’t do so, the court will refuse to hear the case. If you think you may want to file a claim, you should reach out to an attorney immediately. They will ensure you know all the deadlines which are relevant to your case. You don’t want to lose the opportunity to recover damages simply because you weren’t aware of the statute of limitations.
What Damages Can Families Recover?
Damages are intended to compensate survivors for losses they suffered following a death. Indiana places limits on the types of damages you can obtain and how much you can get. Let’s look at the possible categories of damages before discussing the limits. You may be able to recover:
- Medical expenses. You can compensation for medical expenses if the individual incurred costs which you now have to pay.
- Funeral and burial expenses. If these costs were overwhelming, you can include them in your claim.
- Loss of financial support. This applies if your loved one was the main breadwinner in your home. You can also claim damages for loss of financial support if your quality of life was dramatically reduced.
- Loss of household services. Do you now have to find someone to take care of the home and children? You may be able to get compensation.
- Loss of parental guidance. This is applicable if the survivors are minors.
- Loss of love, care, and affection. If you lost someone with whom you shared a large part of your life, you can file for damages.
- Legal fees relating to the lawsuit.
Damages in an Indiana wrongful death case are capped at $300,000. All medical, funeral and burial expenses for adults are paid directly to the estate. The estate is then responsible for paying the relevant bills. Meanwhile, damages for lost wages are distributed among the eligible survivors.
If the deceased is a child, the parents can recover damages for all the losses they’ve suffered. This includes those mentioned above as well as the cost of counseling for themselves or any siblings.
Contact the Attorneys at Stewart|Phelps|Wood Today!
If you’ve lost a loved one due to negligence, you need to contact a wrongful death attorney in Indianapolis. Coming to terms with the loss and dealing with the financial consequences will be difficult. Our attorneys will do everything they can to help you get fair compensation. Call us today to schedule a consultation.