Wrongful death lawsuits arise from negligent or wrongful actions that lead to a person’s demise. Victims’ families seek these lawsuits when criminal action fails or is never sought. Wrongful death lawsuits are emotionally charged and require professional guidance from an attorney.
Families are often faced with numerous financial stressors after the unexpected loss of a loved one. Family members may have the right to take legal action against the one who caused their loved one’s death. Because of the statute of limitations, time is of the essence when pursuing one of these cases.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death occurs because of the negligent or willful acts of another party. Wrongful death lawsuits arise from many incidents, including car accidents, medical malpractice, and assault. Wrongful death claims are civil lawsuits and can be filed regardless of criminal status.
Why Do People Sue for Wrongful Death?
Only specific individuals can sue for wrongful death, including spouses, children, or parents. Personal representatives of families may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the estate.
People pursue wrongful death lawsuits to recover the following:
- Medical bills
- Funeral costs
- Loss of earning potential
- Loss of companionship
- Legal costs
- Loss of inheritance
- Lost wages
Survivors may also sue for pain and suffering. Courts sometimes award punitive damages, especially in the case of gross negligence, such as drunk driving accidents. Court systems award extremely high punitive damages to deter others from taking the same actions. These incidents harm not just the victim, but their family and loved ones as well.
Indiana Wrongful Death Laws: Child Wrongful Death & Adult Wrongful Death
Every state has specific laws related to wrongful death cases. The state of Indiana has two statutes that may impact wrongful death claims.
The Child Wrongful Death Act refers to unmarried victims who have no dependents. Under this act, parents or legal guardians can file wrongful death lawsuits due to the death of a child under 20 or a student under 23. The Indiana General Assembly includes a viable fetus under its definition of “child.”
The Adult Wrongful Death Act refers to adults who are unmarried and do not have any dependents. Under this act, representatives of the estate may file a wrongful death claim to recoup losses from medical and hospital bills, funeral expenses, and other damages. This statute puts a cap on damages at $300,000.
There is also a statute of limitations to consider in Indiana. Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within two years of the death. Once the statute time runs out, family members and representatives of the estate no longer have a legal claim. There are rare exceptions to this rule, including the Discovery Rule.
Seek Help From an Attorney
No one should have to navigate the legal system while grieving the loss of a loved one. The laws are sometimes complicated, and mistakes can lead to unfair judgments.
Getting help from an attorney is wise. Many wrongful death attorneys offer free consultation appointments to help families get the justice they deserve.