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Are Pain and Suffering Relating to a Wrongful Death Compensable?

Dec 29, 2021 | Wrongful Death

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When pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit in Indiana, you can file for both economic and non-economic damages. 

Economic damages are expenses with a specific bill or dollar amount, such as medical bills, loss of income, and funeral expenses.

Noneconomic damages can include the pain and suffering your loved one endured, loss of your loved one’s love and affection, or loss of parental guidance if the deceased is your parent.

Recoverable Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The areas of compensation that you can pursue in a wrongful death lawsuit will vary based on the relationship of the person filing the lawsuit and the deceased.

Any eligible plaintiff can pursue reasonable medical and funeral expenses for the loss of their loved one. And anyone pursuing a wrongful death case can seek expenses related to administering the estate of the loved one who passed away, except for parents who lose a minor child to wrongful death, as children do not have an estate to administer.

Based on who is filing the case, here are some additional damages you might be eligible to list on your wrongful death case:

  • Surviving spouses or dependents of the deceased can seek lost wages and future earnings. They can also pursue loss of affection.
  • Surviving spouses can pursue loss of household services.
  • Surviving dependents can pursue loss of guidance.
  • Parents and nondependent children can add attorney’s fees to their economic damages. And these parties are eligible for loss of love and companionship.
  • When a person passes with no dependents and no next of kin, their personal representative can seek attorney’s fees.
  • Parents who lose a child can also seek several unique damages. These include the loss of love and affection, mental health challenges for the parents and any surviving siblings, payment for the child’s uninsured debts, and loss of household services. The state does not cap these damages so long as the child was under the age of 20 or pursuing a college degree while under the age of 23.

Indiana Wrongful Death Lawsuit Maximums

Indiana does place caps on wrongful death compensation though, so depending on the extent of your economic damages, you might max out your wrongful death lawsuit amount before adding in pain and suffering.

Here are a few maximums you should know about when deciding how much to pursue in a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • Wrongful death compensation that results from medical malpractice is capped at $1.25 million.
  • Government entities responsible for a wrongful death only have to pay out a maximum of $700,000.
  • An unmarried adult with no dependents pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit can claim a maximum of $300,000 for loss of love and companionship.

Eligible Loved Ones Who Can Recover Wrongful Death Damages

Not just anyone can recover damages after a wrongful death. You must be an eligible claimant, which includes the following:

  • Spouse
  • Dependent children
  • Parents of deceased non-dependent adult children who have no dependents of their own
  • Parents or guardians of dependent children
  • The personal representative of a deceased adult who has no next of kin or dependents

The impacts of a wrongful death can be far-reaching. While the economics of losing a loved one are, of course, devastating in their own way, so are the emotional and mental traumas associated with this loss. Indiana law does permit most loved ones to seek emotional pain and suffering based on their relationship with the deceased.

But the law is also quite complicated and requires careful analysis to understand what applies and what does not. You need a skilled attorney to aid you in ensuring compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit is fair based on your relationship to your lost loved one and the events they experienced before their passing. Stewart & Stewart will be a trusted legal team during this difficult time for you. Schedule your free case evaluation now.

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