Dispelling Common Wrongful Death Misconceptions
Wrongful death is one of those areas of personal injury law that many people have heard of but aren’t entirely sure what it entails. Consequently, there are many misconceptions about wrongful death suits, including what wrongful death even is. Unfortunately, confusion surrounding these topics can lead to people not getting the legal support they need when wrongful death accidents occur.
Misunderstandings about wrongful death typically revolve around:
- Who can file a suit
- What damages can be sought
- Whether there is a cap on wrongful death compensation
- The time limit for filing a suit
Under IC 34-23-1-1, wrongful death is defined as “when the death of one is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another.” When this occurs, the deceased’s personal representative may bring an action (file a lawsuit) against the person whose wrongful act caused their death. One of the core challenges of a wrongful death suit is meeting the legal standard of proving that the other party’s negligence is what caused or contributed to the death of your loved one.
Keep reading for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about wrongful death suits in Indiana.
For What Can Damages Be Sought in a Wrongful Death Suit?
According to Indiana law, damages may be sought for several expenses associated with the accident that resulted in the deceased person’s death. Losing someone is devastating. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the deceased’s loved ones may be left dealing with more than just the pain of their loss. Significant medical bills, funeral expenses, and losing their loved one’s economic support can create a serious financial burden. Filing a wrongful death claim is often the best and only option for families to recover financially from their loss.
Damages can be sought for:
- Medical expenses
- Hospital expenses
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost income of the deceased person
- Loss of love and companionship
Is There a Cap on Wrongful Death in Indiana?
Yes, in Indiana, the general monetary limit on wrongful death claims is $300,000 for unmarried adults. In wrongful death cases, damages are determined by either the court or a jury. Even in cases where a jury awards the plaintiff damages exceeding $300,000, the courts will reduce the damages down to $300,000 to meet this cap. The damages associated with this cap are those exclusive of punitive damages and damages awarded for grief.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Indiana?
Under the aforementioned statute, IC 34-23-1-1, the deceased’s personal representative has two years to file their wrongful death claim. If you are unsure if you qualify to file a wrongful death claim, speak with one of our attorneys for guidance. We are available to review your case and help you identify your best path forward.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Indiana, only the deceased individual’s personal representative may file a wrongful death claim. This personal representative does not have to be a family member. As the personal representative, they act on behalf of the deceased individual’s estate and their surviving family members, such as their widow/ widower, dependent children, and/or dependent next of kin. The surviving family members are beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate, and any recovered damages will be dispersed to them as such.
Typically, only the spouse, children, or dependent next of kin can recover damages in a wrongful death case. However, in some cases, parents may also qualify to recover damages in a wrongful death suit.
In situations where the deceased individual has no surviving spouse or dependent next of kin, damages may be dispersed to:
- Those providing hospitalization or hospital services related to the deceased’s last illness or injury
- Those providing medical or surgical services related to the deceased’s final illness or injury
- The funeral director or funeral home providing funeral and burial services
- The personal representative for costs associated with administering the deceased’s estate as well as pursuing the wrongful death claim
Generally, in cases with no surviving spouse or dependents, damages are awarded in the amount needed to cover the expenses mentioned above.
No one should have to lose a loved one because of someone else’s negligence. Tabor Law Firm, LLP has experience representing clients in wrongful death suits in Indiana, and we are prepared to use our experience to help you, too. Call our law firm at (317) 236-9000″>(317) 236-9000 or send us a message online to discuss your situation.
To learn more about wrongful death claims in Indiana, review these blog posts: