It is always hard to lose a loved one. However, it is especially tragic to lose a loved one because of someone else’s negligence. If you have lost a spouse, parent, or child because another person was negligent, you may be eligible to recover all costs associated with your loved one’s death in a wrongful death claim.
Since every state has its own set of wrongful death laws, it is important to understand how Indiana works under these circumstances. Here are 3 important questions to ask to properly file a wrongful death claim in Indiana.
What Exactly Constitutes Wrongful Death?
The full legal code for wrongful death claims in Indiana can be found in Title 34, Article 23, Chapter 1. For most people, the legal jargon within Indiana law can be difficult to understand. That’s why it’s always important to consult a wrongful death attorney before making any decisions concerning a wrongful death claim.
Thankfully, experienced attorneys at Stewart & Stewart will discuss your case for free in an initial consultation.
The first reason that someone can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a loved one is if the accident causing death occurred by way of “wrongful act.” The act could have been malicious or otherwise. In many cases, the wrongful act was an inappropriate response to a situation, a gross example of negligence.
A second reason that one may file a wrongful death claim in Indiana is if the accident and/or death was the result of someone not administering reasonable care to prevent an accident or death. This is a more common example of negligence that can lead to the death of a loved one.
If the injury and death of your loved one merits a wrongful death claim, you have two years from the time of death to file your claim.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim in Indiana?
The official title of the person who files a wrongful death claim is known as the deceased’s personal representative. For a deceased adult, the widow, children, and/or dependents are eligible to receive damages in a wrongful death claim. According to Indiana law,
A parent or child who wishes to recover damages under this section has the burden of proving that the parent or child had a genuine, substantial, and ongoing relationship with the adult person before the parent or child may recover damages.
In other words, children estranged from their deceased parent may not be eligible to file and claim damages in a wrongful death case. The same is true in a case where parents lose an adult child. They must be able to demonstrate that they had a “genuine, substantial, and ongoing relationship” with the deceased child.
When children die in an accident where there was clear negligence, parents or legal guardians may initiate a wrongful death claim and receive damages.
What Is Included in Wrongful Death Damages?
Though a personal representative may not attempt to financially quantify their grief in damages, there are substantial costs that are typically included in those damages. For example, any hospitalization, emergency response, and/or other medical expenses before death should be included in the final damages amount.
Also, all costs associated with a funeral and burial are included in damages. Your attorney will be able to help you include noneconomic damages, such as the surviving loved one’s loss of companionship and affection. Noneconomic damages are especially appropriate if the deceased left young children behind that he/she had been raising and supporting financially. This is known as “loss of consortium.”
For more information about how an Indiana attorney can help you with your wrongful death case, contact Stewart & Stewart Attorneys at 800-333-3529 or visit our website.