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Elements of a Wrongful Death Case

Published in Personal Injury on January 30, 2020.

elements of a wrongful death suit

Wrongful death is when someone is killed because of someone else’s wrongful act or omission. 

When a wrongful death occurs, the deceased person’s loved ones have the right to seek monetary compensation.

The rules about who can bring a wrongful death claim and what kind of damages are available vary significantly from state to state.

An experienced wrongful death attorney will be familiar with the laws in your state. They can help you hold wrongdoers accountable for the death of your loved one.

What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Suit?

The elements of wrongful death are generally the same no matter what state you are in.

To obtain compensation, a plaintiff needs to prove the following wrongful death elements:

  • A person died,
  • The death was the result of the wrongful act or omission of another, and
  • The estate and/or family members of the deceased suffered damages.

A plaintiff who establishes these wrongful death elements can receive compensation for the loss they have suffered.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Suit in Indiana?

State laws vary widely on who is allowed to bring a wrongful death suit and who can be compensated. Some states permit recovery only for the person’s heirs or dependents; others permit the estate to recover damages.

In Indiana, if the deceased person is an adult, only the personal representative of the estate may initiate a wrongful death suit. Typically, the personal representative is a surviving spouse or a close family member. 

The statute of limitations requires plaintiffs to file their wrongful death claims within two years of the death.

What Damages Are Available for Wrongful Death in Indiana?

Damages may be awarded once the wrongful death elements have been established. Indiana law permits specific types of damages for wrongful death. Many of these damages go to the deceased person’s estate. Other types of damages may be awarded to certain family members.

Categories of damages under Indiana law include the following:

  • Medical and hospital expenses for the deceased, awarded to the estate;
  • Funeral and burial expenses for the deceased, awarded to the estate;
  • The deceased person’s lost future earnings, awarded to a dependent spouse, dependent children, or dependent next of kin;
  • Loss of the love and companionship of the deceased person, awarded to their spouse, parents, or children;
  • Psychological counseling expenses incurred by the parents or siblings of a deceased child, awarded to the parents; and
  • Costs of administering the estate and attorney fees incurred prosecuting the wrongful death action, awarded to the estate in some circumstances.

Indiana law does not award damages for grief or punitive damages in wrongful death cases.

How Do I Start a Wrongful Death Claim?

Nothing can truly compensate for the loss of a loved one. But if your spouse’s, child’s, or parent’s death was caused by someone else’s wrongdoing, you can pursue justice.

The experienced wrongful death attorneys at Eskew Law can help you with an out-of-court settlement or take your case all the way to trial. You won’t pay us anything until you get your compensation. Call 317-208-5573 today to schedule your free case review or contact us online.

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