Who Can Recover for Wrongful Death?

Wrongful Death Dan - December 10, 2019
Fort Wayne Wrongful Death

Suddenly losing a loved one is an extremely traumatic experience. While there is no way the law can turn back the clock and change the past, it can compensate surviving family members for their losses. As a surviving family member of a person who has lost his or her life due to the wrongful act or omission of another person, Indiana’s wrongful death statute may allow you to receive compensation. To find out whether you are eligible, call Blackburn & Green today to discuss your case with an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Fort Wayne.

Filing the Wrongful Death Claim

Each state has its own laws that dictate who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim. Indiana is one of the few states that does not allow family members to directly file the claim if the deceased was an adult. Instead, the law requires the claim to be filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate.

If the accident victim had a last will and testament, that document should designate who will serve as the personal representative. If there was no valid will in place, the probate court will need to appoint someone to this role. In that case, the probate estate should be opened as soon as possible because there is a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death case. 

A “child” for purposes of a wrongful death action is a person less than twenty years-old or less than twenty-three years-old if enrolled in college or a vocational school. Either parent or both parents of the child will need to file a wrongful death case. If the parents are not married, the parent who had legal custody of the child should be the one to file a wrongful death claim. If there are no living parents or the parents had their parental rights terminated, the legal guardian of the child at the time of the child’s death should file the claim.

Recovering Damages for Wrongful Death

Just because family members do not file a claim in their own name for the death of an adult does not mean that family members cannot receive compensation. Family members who might recover in a wrongful death case in Indiana include:

  1. Surviving spouse
  2. Dependent children
  3. Other dependents
  4. Parents 
  5. Non-dependent children or next-of-kin

However, parents and non-dependent children or next-of-kin may only recover damages if the deceased person was unmarried and had no dependent children.  In a case for the wrongful death of a child, parents and grandparents may receive compensation depending on who had custody of the child.

If more than one person can recover damages, the court will be in charge of determining how to divide the overall award, often based on the relationship and degree of dependence on the deceased. Family members can recover for the lost earnings and financial support of the deceased person. The estate will receive damages for medical, funeral, and burial expenses, and the estate will need to pay these outstanding bills directly.

Consult with a Fort Wayne Wrongful Death Attorney About Your Options

At Blackburn & Green, we understand how important it is for survivors to obtain justice after losing a loved one because of someone else’s negligence or intentional acts. We will review the facts of your case at no cost to you and let you know whether we think you will be able to recover. In addition, we will never collect legal fees unless we win your case. To schedule your free case evaluation with a wrongful death lawyer in Fort Wayne, call Blackburn & Green at (260) 422-4400 or send us an email through our online contact form.

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