In some cases, a personal injury case may turn into a wrongful death claim due to the injured party’s passing. In a wrongful death filing, the filing must be done by a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. With the help of a wrongful death attorney, any damages awarded in the wrongful death filing can be awarded to the deceased person’s spouse, children, or other dependents or relatives. If more than one person is to be awarded damages, the court will ultimately decide on the amounts.
In the case of the deceased child, the lawsuit must be filed by one or both of the child’s parents. If a divorce is involved, the lawsuit would have to be filed by the parent that had legal custody of the child. If the parents are also deceased (or they are not the legal guardians of their child) then the child’s legal guardian will file.
Any wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit and is treated as such by the courts. However, there are cases such as when a drunk driver caused the fatal accident, where the state will file criminal charges. These would be two separate filings and cases, though, and the estate of the deceased should have an attorney who provides in-depth, decisive, and personal legal services. A personal injury attorney that is familiar with the intricacies of such a case can provide the guidance you need.
The wrongful death filing, on the part of the deceased’s estate, has two main objectives:
- To establish liability on the part of the defendant who has caused the death
- To seek monetary damages
The death of a loved one is always a very traumatic event, especially if it was due to an accident or negligence. We know that nothing can bring your loved one back, but the deceased’s estate can seek justice by filing a suit. Also, the deceased’s family or dependents may be financially impacted by the death, if, for instance, the breadwinner of the home is now not able to take care of the family, then the damages received by the wrongful death suit may be necessary for their continued care. It will be tough to deal with a civil lawsuit while you, and your family, are still mourning the death of your loved one. So it is even more important to retain a personal injury firm that is thoroughly familiar with wrongful death cases.
What Events can Result in a Wrongful death Filing, and Is There a Time Limit to File?
A wrongful death lawsuit can originate from a variety of events, such as:
- Accidents on premises
- Defective products
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse
- Intentional acts of violence
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
Essentially, a wrongful death claim alleges that a person or party committed a negligent, reckless, or intentional act that caused the event that resulted in the loss of life. If you have any doubts or questions as to whether the death of your loved one was caused by another, consult with a personal injury attorney.
Indiana’s wrongful death statutes dictate that you must file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years from the date of death. In certain types of medical malpractice cases and a few other instances, the calculation of time may differ. So the estate of the deceased should consult with a personal injury / wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to ensure a lawsuit is filed before the deadline expires. If this deadline is missed, the deceased’s estate will lose the opportunity to obtain needed compensation or hold the negligent party accountable.
What Types of Damages and Compensations can the Estate Expect in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Damages awarded in a wrongful death case are intended to compensate the deceased’s family and estate for their death. Various types of compensation are awarded for the family to be adequately taken care of. The death of another due to negligence or by the direct cause of someones else is bad enough, so the family and dependents deserve to have their financial future secure.
In the case of losing a child, possibly even more traumatic and ongoing things such as family grief counseling, loss of companionship, and even love and services may be covered by damages.
Indiana, however, does not permit wrongful death cases to include such things as pain and suffering. The state also has a cap on wrongful death damages of $300,000 for unmarried adults, but if a family is involved, it could be more.
Even $300,000 may sound like a lot, but if the victim’s family and dependents are involved, they may have years or even decades to be compensated for. The time that the deceased won’t be there to financially or emotionally support the loved ones left behind should be considered by the court.
As with most all cases filed in the Indiana courts, a wrongful death case is usually complex, and the estate of the victim has to be guided through the process. Again, no amount of money can adequately compensate for the loss of a loved one, but those family and dependents left behind have the wrongful death laws of Indiana to protect them against more hardships in the future.
Most personal injury attorneys will schedule a free consultation to evaluate your wrongful death case. Many will even obtain their fee-based only on the damages the estate receives. An experienced personal injury attorney will work tirelessly to ensure that the estate gets the damages they need to move forward.