If the wrongful actions of another person killed someone you loved, you may wonder if the legal system can provide you with justice. In Indiana, the deceased’s beneficiaries can file a wrongful death action.
Wondering if the Legal System Can Provide You With Justice in a Wrongful Death Case?
While you grieve, you may not realize the importance of acting promptly to investigate a potential wrongful death action. Crucial evidence needed to prove your case can disappear through delays. Someone needs to interview witnesses immediately, while their memories are still fresh. And it may take time to correctly determine all of the responsible parties.
The damages in a wrongful death action vary and depend on many factors, including:
- Pain and suffering and mental anguish
- Loss of future earnings
- Loss of services, companionship, care, protection, and guidance
- Medical bills or funeral expenses relating to a lost loved one
If your spouse, parent, or child died a wrongful death due to the fault of another person or a company, call me today for your free consultation, or complete the online questionnaire. Please let an experienced Indianapolis wrongful death attorney help you through these difficult times.
If your loved one was unmarried and left behind no living parents or children, you still may have a wrongful death action. Please call me so that we can discuss your potential claim.
If you are already talking to an insurance company about a claim related to the loss of a loved one or if you have questions about giving a statement to a claims adjuster or documents someone is asking you to sign, I can help.
A FREE consultation can provide you with peace of mind. Merry Fountain will personally ensure you understand your rights and the legal consequences of your decisions.
I am always personally available to meet with people I represent. There’s never a fee until your case is settled. I am committed to obtaining the best possible settlement for you. Call the Fountain Law Firm today.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
People can sustain fatal injuries in many—including in completely accidental and unpreventable— ways. In some situations, the deceased may have partially caused the accident. In many cases, however, another party incurs liability for the accident and the resulting death.
Indiana law defines wrongful death as a death caused by another party’s wrongful act or omission. Generally speaking, wrongful deaths take place because someone else acted in an intentional or negligent manner that resulted in the fatality. Common causes of wrongful death include:
- Car accidents
- Commercial truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse
- Construction accidents
- Dog attacks
- Violent assaults
This is not an exhaustive list, however, and if you believe that another party caused the death of your loved one, do not hesitate to discuss what happened with an experienced Indianapolis wrongful death lawyer who can advise you of your rights.
Criminal Case vs. Wrongful Death Case
In some cases, a death constitutes a homicide, and the party who caused it may face criminal charges, such as in cases of fatal drunk driving accidents or fatal assaults. While you may expect the criminal case to provide some compensation for your family, this process is mostly focused on punishing the party who caused the death and not on supporting the family of the victim. Instead, the family must pursue a civil claim to receive financial compensation for the death.
Indiana Wrongful Death Laws
While all states generally define wrongful death in a similar manner, they do set out different requirements and limitations regarding wrongful death claims. The following information deals with wrongful death laws in Indiana.
Who can file a wrongful death claim? While some states allow surviving family members to file wrongful death claims, Indiana requires that the personal representative of the estate of the deceased victim files the claim. While this may seem strange to some people, think of it this way: An injured accident victim could file a personal injury claim against the liable party. However, deceased people cannot file lawsuits, so Indiana law requires their estates to step in and file lawsuits on behalf of deceased victims.
Even though the estate officially files the wrongful death lawsuit, the proceeds of any settlement or award will go to qualified surviving family members, including a spouse, children, other dependents, or the parents of a deceased child. The court will determine how to divide damages among the eligible family members.
How long do you have to file a claim? After a sudden death, you have a lot to worry about. Not only must you deal with your emotional grief, but also planning for services for the deceased and adjusting to the loss. This can challenge you, but think about discussing a possible case with a wrongful death attorney as soon as you can. Indiana only gives you two years to file a wrongful death case, and this time limit applies even if a criminal case regarding the death is still pending.
These cases take time to investigate and prepare, so never wait until just before the two-year deadline to contact an attorney. If the statute of limitations passes, you will lose your chance to recover compensation for your losses.
What damages can you seek in a wrongful death case? Indiana is stricter than many states when it comes to the damages available in wrongful death claims. The state does not allow damages for grief or emotional loss, but instead only for:
- Expenses for hospitalization and medical care prior to the death
- Costs of a funeral and burial
- Income the deceased person would have earned and contributed to the family
- Attorney’s fees and costs of filing the lawsuit
The at-fault party or insurance company pays damages for financial losses from medical, funeral, and burial bills directly to the estate, which then settles the bills directly. The court distributes damages for lost financial contributions to the surviving family members who would have benefitted from that income. In some cases, parents of a deceased child may recover additional compensation for the loss of the child’s companionship and to cover counseling bills for the surviving family members.
All in all, Indiana law only allows a maximum of $300,000 in damages in wrongful death cases. While this cap may frustrate some people, this amount of money can help you cover bills and move forward with a greater sense of justice regarding your unexpected loss. Attorney Merry Fountain will always seek the maximum possible settlement or award in your wrongful death claim, so please call today for more information about how she can assist you.
Proving Your Wrongful Death Claim
Just like in any type of personal injury case, a plaintiff in a wrongful death case must prove that the defendant acted in a negligent manner (or intentional manner) that caused or contributed to the death. The evidence needed to prove negligence or wrongdoing will vary from case to case and may include:
- A criminal conviction for the homicide
- Evidence of dangerous driving or traffic violations
- Evidence of unsafe conditions at a business, store, or workplace
- Surveillance video showing unsafe behavior
- Witness statements
You need a law firm handling your claim with the resources to identify all liable parties and obtain evidence to prove that the wrongful death.
Consult an Indianapolis Wrongful Death Lawyer for Free Today
The Fountain Law Firm provides dedicated and skilled representation in all personal injury and wrongful death cases. To discuss your legal options, please call attorney Merry Fountain today at (888) 242-HURT (4878) or contact the office online for a free case evaluation.