Wrongful death cases are some of the hardest and most trying cases a person can go through in their lifetime. Losing a loved one is hard enough, but to know it could have been avoided or was due to the negligent actions of someone else can make it almost unbearable.
In addition to the feelings of loss, families also must undergo the difficult road that is a wrongful death claim. Each state has their own laws regarding wrongful death, so it’s important you know how your state stands before you begin your claim.
Wrongful Death in Indiana
Here in Indiana, we follow the Indiana Code 34-23-1. In this code, wrongful death is defined as: “the death of one is caused by the wrongful or omission of another.” This means that in Indiana, if a person dies due to a negligent act—whether they performed an act or failed to perform an act—the negligent party will be held responsible for the death.
This is similar to personal injury, but in a wrongful death case, the family of the deceased becomes the plaintiff. The family will have to work to prove that the negligence occurred and that it was a direct result of their loved one’s death.
A Civil Case
In Indiana, all wrongful death claims are seen as a civil case, which means the courts do not get involved and it is instead handled directly through the estate. If there is a criminal component, for example, the death occurred due to a drunk driver, a separate criminal case will be brought into it, and separate charges will be filed. If a family wishes to gain compensation for the negligence, they must still file a wrongful death case, in addition to any criminal case that may already be occurring.
Who Receives Compensation?
Once a wrongful death claim is complete, the Indiana courts will decide who will receive compensation, and in what amount. Most often, the spouse and children will be awarded for any damages recovered, but there are always expectations to this rule. If you are not a direct dependent of the deceased, but feel you deserve the right to some of the damages, it’s imperative to get an Indiana attorney on your side.
How to File
After the wrongful death occurs, the family of the deceased must file a wrongful death claim with the state of Indiana. Within this claim, the family must be able to prove negligence and that the death was, in fact, due to that negligence. Within the claim, the family or dependents of the deceased will also have to ask for damages and then have the claim filed directly by the estate (the spouse, children or dependents). The estate of the deceased person can claim funeral expenses, the costs of filing and pursuing the wrongful death claim, medical and hospital expense, and any lost wages the deceased would have earned if they had lived.
In Indiana specifically, the family can only be awarded up to $300,000 in damages and a family cannot claim any damages for pain and suffering.
At Stewart & Stewart, we work hard to ensure that you don’t have to worry about your claim and can focus on your grieving. For more information or to file a wrongful death claim, contact us at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website for more information.