Like every other state, Indiana has its state laws that dictate wrongful death claims. Wrongful death, according to Indiana’s wrongful death statute, is defined as a situation in which the death happened (or was caused) by the wrongful act or neglect of another person.
Wrongful death claim
The easiest way to explain this claim is to see the wrongful death claim as a personal injury claim only, in this case, the injured person has died. Since this person is dead, they cannot be the plaintiff, so the estate of the deceased person can seek claims and establish liability on the part of the defendant whose negligent actions caused the death.
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit and is filed by the estate directly, and that fault is expressed only in terms of civil damages. There are cases where criminal charges may be filed by the state based on the same events. Let’s say the death was caused by a car accident in which the driver who caused it was intoxicated. The state will then file criminal charges against the driver (under Indiana’s vehicular manslaughter law). But, the criminal case is a separate claim from any wrongful death claim. To collect damages for negligence, the estate should first file a wrongful death case, even if a criminal case is already proceeding.
Can you file a wrongful death claim in Indiana?
In this state, the wrongful death claim must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. The damages may be given to the dead person’s spouse, children, or other dependents. If there is more than one person who is eligible to collect the damages in a wrongful death case, the court will determine how to split up the total damages award.
If the wrongful death claim involves the death of a child, the claim must be filed by one (or both) parents. In case the parents are divorced, the claim must be filed by the parent who had legal custody of the child. If the parents are dead or their parental rights have been ended, the case must be filed by the child’s legal guardian.
Statute limitations for filing a wrongful death claim in Indiana
A wrongful death claim in Indiana has a time limit of only two years of the date the death occurred. If the claim is not filed within the two years time limit, the court will not accept to hear the matter. The surviving family members are at risk of losing a great chance to seek the damages for the wrongful death of their loved one.
The time limit remains the same even if the case involves the death of a child or if a criminal law case is occurring at the same time.
Wrongful death case damages in Indiana
The fault in a wrongful death case is expressed in terms of civil damages, that should compensate the surviving family members for death-related losses. Indiana has specific rules about what types of damages may be collected in a wrongful death case and the available amounts.
Indiana lets the deceased person’s estate (spouse and children) to collect the damages if liability is established in a wrongful death case. Here are the options:
- funeral and burial costs
- medical and hospital costs
- lost wages and benefits the dead would probably have earned if they had lived
- costs of proceeding the wrongful death lawsuit.
Indiana does not allow paying of wrongful death lawsuit damages based on “grief” experienced by surviving family members. The claims for an Indiana wrongful death case are limited to $300,000.
Damages for hospital medical, funeral, and burial costs must be paid directly to the estate. The estate is responsible for using the money to pay any medical, hospital, funeral, or burial expenses. Claims for lost wages are divided among the surviving spouse and children.
If the wrongful death case is about a child, the parents may get damages for medical expenses, hospital, funeral, and the costs of pursuing the wrongful death case claims for the loss of the child’s services, love, and companionship. Parents may also demand damages for the costs of counseling (their own or of the siblings) after the death.
If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death case, you can begin the process of getting your wrongful death compensation claim. Call our office today and schedule your initial consultation with our wrongful death attorneys. We are expecting you.