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Who Is Entitled to Wrongful Death Benefits?

Apr 19, 2021 | Wrongful Death

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Losing a loved one is a challenging situation to have to go through. But when their death was due to someone else’s negligence or intentional criminal actions, the situation is even more difficult to face.

Surviving family members can file for financial restitution with a wrongful death lawsuit. These laws protect family members who lose someone due to someone else’s misconduct.

While no wrongful death benefits will bring back your loved one, a wrongful death settlement can ease the financial burdens you experience from the loss of a loved one.

In this post, we’ll answer some common questions related to Indiana wrongful death laws and explain who can file for these claims.

Who Can Seek Wrongful Death Benefits?

Indiana law is fairly specific about who can seek wrongful death benefits, also known as survivor benefits. These parties include the following who are related to the deceased person:

  • Spouse
  • Children, both biological and adopted
  • Parents

In the case of a parent losing a child, both parents must file the lawsuit unless the parents are divorced. If so, the parent with legal custody of the child can file the lawsuit.

When a child is the victim of wrongful death but both parents are deceased, the child’s legal guardian can then file a lawsuit.

Some wrongful death lawsuits include multiple parties pursuing damages. For example, if a parent passes away and has multiple children, there could be more than one party pursuing damages. In other scenarios, a surviving spouse and children might file for compensation.

When there are multiple parties, the courts will decide how the damages should be divided among all parties.

What Is the Statute of Limitations in Indiana?

Indiana Code 34-11-2-4 outlines the statute of limitations for bringing about a wrongful death case. Loved ones generally have two years from the time of the loved one’s death to file a case.

What Damages Do Survivor Benefits Cover?

Survivor benefits include five main areas of financial recovery:

  1. Funeral and burial expenses
  2. Medical expenses, including hospital bills
  3. Lost wages and benefits that the deceased individual would have made if the person had lived
  4. Lawsuit expenses, including reasonable attorney fees
  5. Loss of emotional support

One important note on Indiana law concerning wrongful death is that you cannot seek compensation for grief or pain and suffering in your settlement. Furthermore, Indiana caps damage limits to $300,000 for unmarried adults.

What Is Considered a Wrongful Death?

Indiana Code 34-23-1 defines what constitutes a wrongful death. In its simplest form, a wrongful death occurs “when the death of one is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another.”

Many situations could lead to this wrongful death, including:

  • Car accident
  • Medical malpractice
  • Product liability (malfunction)
  • Workplace accidents
  • Slip and fall incidents

A wrongful death case is a civil case and is not related to a criminal case. In some circumstances, a person’s death might include both a civil and criminal case. One example of this would be if the driver in a car accident was reckless or intoxicated, leading to the victim’s death.

You do not have to wait for the state to file criminal charges against the at-fault party before filing a civil lawsuit.

Hiring an Indiana Wrongful Death Attorney

As you work through the emotions of dealing with the loss of a loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit is probably not your first concern. However, as you slowly recover from the shock, you might start looking for ways to find restitution and restore your way of life.

Stewart & Stewart is a team of caring and trustworthy wrongful death attorneys who will be respectful and understanding as you go through this challenging time. We’ll also ensure that the person responsible for the death of your loved one pays the associated expenses, so you don’t have to shoulder that expense.

Schedule a free consultation with our office today for more information.

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