Published in Personal Injury on July 5, 2018.
Indiana’s wrongful death law allows family members to receive compensation when someone else is responsible for the death of a loved one.
The purpose of the law is to force the person at fault to shoulder the financial burden of your loved one’s death. Read on for more information about how to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
Who Can File?
This part is easy. The estate’s personal representative files the lawsuit on behalf of the family members. The personal representative is typically the next of kin, which often includes a spouse, adult child, sibling or parent.
However, if a minor child was killed, then one or both of the child’s parents must file the wrongful death lawsuit, not the personal representative.
Who Receives Any Compensation?
Although the personal representative files the wrongful death lawsuit, any money received from the lawsuit typically goes to family members:
- Surviving spouse
- Dependent children
- Dependent next of kin
If none of the above exist, then parents and siblings can typically receive compensation if the lawsuit is successful.
The deceased person’s estate will also receive compensation to reimburse it for the following:
- Reasonable medical or hospital expenses to treat the deceased for their final injury
- Funeral expenses
- Burial expenses
How Much Compensation Can Family Members Receive?
There is no precise amount. Instead, survivors typically receive compensation for lost wages and benefits that their loved one would have likely earned had they lived. For example, if your husband made $30,000 a year, you were probably counting on receiving that salary to support you and your family in the future. The jury can award you an amount in damages to make up for the wages you will no longer receive.
In addition to lost wages, family members can receive compensation for:
- Loss of guidance which children would receive from their parents
- Loss of household services, such as taking care of children, cleaning, cooking, etc.
- Loss of love and affection from a deceased spouse
In some situations, the state will cap the compensation you can receive. For example, damage caps apply if your loved one died because of medical malpractice. Other limitations might apply if your loved one was an adult child who did not have a spouse or children.
When Must the Lawsuit be Filed?
The estate’s personal representative does NOT have an unlimited amount of time to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Instead, they must file within two years of your loved one’s death. If they wait too long, then the party at fault can ask the judge to dismiss the case.
What are Examples of Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another person. Some common examples we see include:
- Automobile or trucking accidents where the driver’s negligence causes a crash
- Defective products cases where an unreasonably dangerous product kills someone
- Premises liability cases, where someone dies by tripping, slipping, or falling
- Medical Malpractices cases involving death
Contact an Indiana Wrongful Death Attorney
If you have lost a loved one in an accident, do not delay contacting an attorney.
At Eskew Law, we have helped numerous grieving family members get the compensation they need so that they can face the future without their loved one.