The loss of a loved one can be devastating. This grief is often more painful when their death was due to another person’s negligence.
Wrongful death cases occur when someone’s wrongful actions cause the death of another person. Three different types of lawsuits exist, and which one you file will depend on your situation. Here are the most common types of wrongful death cases and how to fight to pursue justice.
General Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If the deceased person has dependents, you may choose to file a general wrongful death lawsuit. Damages in general wrongful death cases can cover:
- Medical expenses
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of the deceased’s love and companionship
Any damages will first go to the deceased’s estate to help pay for funeral and burial costs. After that, they will go to the deceased person’s heirs.
In Indiana, only the executor of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. Doing so can sometimes be a complicated process, so it’s beneficial to reach out to an attorney to request assistance.
Adult Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If the deceased individual was an adult but didn’t have any dependents, the type of suit is described as an adult wrongful death lawsuit. This type of case includes the same damages as a general suit, though payouts for loss of love can’t exceed $300,000. In these cases, you may not pursue punitive damages or damages for grief.
Like with general wrongful death cases, only the executor of the deceased’s estate can file a claim.
Child Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If the deceased individual was under 20 (or under 23 and enrolled in secondary education, like college), then the suit would be described as a child wrongful death lawsuit. In addition to general damages, you can also pursue damages for things such as:
- Counseling related to the child’s death
- Any debts the child had
- Administration of the child’s estate
The child’s parents or guardians must file a wrongful death claim. If the parents are divorced, the parent with custody must file; if they’re deceased, the responsibility falls to the child’s legal guardian.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
You will have up to two years after an individual’s death to file a claim. While this may seem like a long time, it’s still important to speak to a lawyer early. Doing so will give an attorney time to gather evidence and build your case.
How Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Work?
Unlike criminal cases, you don’t need to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, you need to provide a “preponderance of evidence” — that is, provide enough evidence that the jury believes it’s likely the defendant is responsible.
After you file your lawsuit, your attorney will speak to witnesses, request medical records, and more. Your lawyer may also negotiate with the opposition to try and settle outside of court. If they can’t reach an agreement, the case will go to trial. Your attorney will present evidence, and the defendant’s attorney will respond in turn. The jury will use that evidence to determine whether the defendant is guilty or not.
If the defendant is guilty, the court will award you compensation, and the amount varies depending on the situation.
Let Stewart & Stewart Assist with Your Wrongful Death Action
The loss of a loved one can be devastating. At Stewart & Stewart, we understand how difficult this situation is. Our lawyers have years of experience with Indiana wrongful death law and offer unfailing support and aggressive representation for wrongful death cases. If you’d like help filing your claim, call 1-800-33-33-LAW or fill out our contact form.