The death of a loved one is often a time of profound grief and sadness. If their death was caused by the negligence of someone else, these feelings may be mingled with anger and the desire to hold the other person responsible. Indiana law allows for wrongful death actions to be filed by surviving family members of the deceased. An experienced attorney can help guide you through this process, protecting your rights while you focus on emotional healing.
The first consideration when filing a wrongful death lawsuit is making sure it is filed by the correct person. If the deceased was an adult, the claim must be filed by the person who has been designated the “personal representative” of the deceased’s estate. Generally, this will be a spouse, child, or next of kin. In the case of the death of a child, a wrongful death claim must be brought by the child’s parent(s) or guardian. Indiana defines a child as anyone from a viable fetus to an unmarried person without dependents, 20 years of age or less or 23 years of age or less, if attending school full-time. If the child’s parents are married, either one may initiate the lawsuit individually. It is important to remember, however, that the other married parent must be joined in the lawsuit.
There are several types of damages that may be awarded in a wrongful death case. Medical expenses and the costs of funeral services may be compensated, as well as the costs associated with bringing the wrongful death lawsuit itself. Depending on the age of the deceased and his or her relationship to the person bringing the wrongful death claim, other economic and emotional damages are available. A surviving spouse may seek compensation for lost wages and for loss of consortium. A child who loses a parent may be compensated for the support the parent would have provided, both monetary and emotional.
Although a diverse range of compensation is available to surviving family members of wrongful death victims, it is important to note that punitive damages are not allowed. Compensation in wrongful death claims is designed to make the victim’s loved ones whole, not punish the defendant.
If you have ever lost a loved one, you need to contact an experienced lawyer. Our experienced personal injury attorney at Blackburn & Green will work to protect your legal rights and help you and your family obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us today for a consultation.