A sudden death can be devastating, robbing you of someone you love without allowing you to prepare for it. This loss can be even sharper when it is the result of somebody else’s negligence. A moment of carelessness can be all it takes to cut a valued life short and leave a grieving family behind to sort through the wreckage.
While nothing can ever bring your loved one back, you may be able to alleviate the financial burden of an unexpected passing in Indiana through a wrongful death claim, though the state places numerous restrictions on these sorts of cases. To increase your chances of success, get in touch with the Indiana wrongful death attorneys at Hensley Legal Group, who have been advocating for mourning Hoosiers for over a quarter century.
You can schedule a free consultation with an Indiana wrongful death lawyer by calling us at (317) 472-3333, chatting with us online, or filling out our contact form.
What Is an Indiana Wrongful Death Case?
Under Indiana law, a death is classified as “wrongful” if it is “caused by the wrongful act or omission of another.” When a wrongful death occurs in the state, the “personal representative” of the deceased could file a claim, provided that the deceased might have done so as well “for the same act or omission” that led to the death.
Indiana imposes constraints on the allocation of wrongful death damages, and there may be limits on the nature and extent of damages available to a wrongful death claimant.
Our Indiana wrongful death attorneys are ready to explain what you should expect if you are contemplating a claim.
Are You Eligible to Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim in Indiana?
While the loss of one life can impact countless others, the fact is that very few of those impacted have the right to make a claim over that loss. An Indiana wrongful death plaintiff generally needs to be a close family member, though the deceased’s age will largely determine which family member it is.
Child decedents – When the deceased is a child, one or both of that child’s parents need to file the wrongful death lawsuit. If the deceased’s parents were divorced, the suit must be filed by the parent with legal custody. When both parents are deceased as well or their parental rights are terminated, the decedent’s legal guardian may file suit. For the purpose of wrongful death claims, a “child” is defined in Indiana’s Child Wrongful Death Statute as:
- An unmarried individual age 19 or younger without dependents;
- An unmarried individual age 22 or younger who has no dependents and is enrolled in a college, a technical or trade school, or a similar training program; or
- A fetus that has reached viability.
Adult decedents – For a wrongful death involving a legal adult who does not meet any other criteria for child decedents, the personal representative of the deceased or the executor of his or her estate has to file suit. This role is mostly filled by the decedent’s spouse, adult children, or parents.
Hensley’s Indiana wrongful death lawyers can assess whether you are a suitable plaintiff and discuss your potential remedies.
Challenges in Indiana Wrongful Death Cases
Aside from determining a claimant’s eligibility, the deceased’s age may affect what the claimant can receive. In the case of a child decedent, compensation may be recoverable for:
- Medical, hospitalization, funeral, and burial expenses, outstanding debts, and estate administration costs, all of which must go to the estate for repayment;
- Reasonable costs of counseling for parents or minor siblings;
- Loss of the child’s services; and
- Loss of the love and companionship of the child.
For an adult decedent without dependents, a plaintiff may be compensated for:
- Medical, hospital, funeral, and burial costs, which must be repaid by the estate; and
- Loss of the deceased’s love and companionship – which is capped at $300,000.00.
Indiana law prohibits courts from awarding punitive damages or damages for grief or loss of future earnings for the heirs of an adult without dependents. Moreover, the deceased’s parents or nondependent children have “the burden of proving that the parent or child had a genuine, substantial, and ongoing relationship with the adult person” to qualify for damages.
For an adult decedent with dependents, the survivors may recover for:
- Funeral, burial, medical, and hospital expenses, to be repaid by the estate;
- Loss of the decedent’s future earnings; and
- Loss of love, affection, guidance, training, and care.
The total amount of damages may be curtailed by the degree to which decedents were at fault for their deaths. Under Indiana’s comparative fault laws, a plaintiff “is barred from recovery if the claimant’s contributory fault is greater than the fault of all persons whose fault proximately contributed to the claimant’s damages.”
If the decedent was not more than 50 percent at fault for his or her own death, there could still be a wrongful death claim, though the award may be reduced by an amount equal to the deceased’s level of blame. However, if the decedent was more than 50 percent at fault, a claim may not be viable.
Finally, wrongful death plaintiffs have a narrow window in which to act, known as the Statute of Limitations. The Statute is two years from the date of death for most Indiana wrongful death claims, though it could be shorter in cases against government bodies, with other restrictions that may apply under Indiana’s Tort Claims Act.
Failure to meet all statutory requirements and deadlines could forever bar a plaintiff from full recovery – an oversight that will never happen under the watchful eyes of Hensley Legal Group.
Leading Types of Indiana Wrongful Death Cases
Many circumstances may provide grounds for a wrongful death claim, though the leading types of Indiana wrongful death cases involve:
Automotive accidents – Motor vehicle collisions are the top causes of wrongful death, with 955 traffic-related fatalities in Indiana and nearly 43,000 nationwide in 2022 alone. Most automotive deaths are the result of driver negligence, which may involve:
- Traveling too fast
- Improper use of phones and handheld devices
- Reckless driving/drag racing
- Ignoring traffic signals and signs
- Inadequate response to poor road or weather conditions
Our Indiana wrongful death lawyers will uncover the causes of a fatal crash and every party liable for it.
Product liability – The State of Indiana requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of products to ensure their safety before bringing them to market, but too many companies prioritize their profit margins over the public good and release hazardous items that may inflict harm. When this occurs, an injured consumer could open a product liability claim, usually by alleging one of three kinds of negligence:
- Design defects – A product was unsafe from its conception.
- Manufacturing defects – A product’s design was safe but it was produced in a way that made it unsafe.
- Warning defects – A customer was not made aware of the unsafe aspects of an otherwise safe product.
A fatal product injury could warrant a wrongful death lawsuit, for which plaintiffs may benefit from the assistance of Hensley’s Indiana wrongful death attorneys, who can convey complex technical information in a clear and compelling fashion.
Medical malpractice – Patients harmed by their caregivers often initiate medical malpractice cases against them. Each year, there are approximately 17,000 medical malpractice claims filed across the country, about 940 of them in Indiana courts. Many of these cases are brought by the surviving families of patients killed because of medical negligence, which may involve:
- Failure to diagnose
- Inaccurate or delayed diagnosis
- Improper medication
- Anesthesia mistakes
- Errors during surgeries and non-surgical procedures
- Malfunctioning medical devices
- Birth injuries
Malpractice-based wrongful death cases need to prove that a practitioner’s deviation from the accepted standard of care caused a patient’s demise. Fortunately, our Indiana wrongful death lawyers are adept at identifying actionable breaches of duty by medical providers.
What Our Wrongful Death Attorneys Will Do for You
A negligent death can overwhelm you with a tidal wave of emotions, including sorrow, confusion, fear, and, perhaps most of all, anger – anger because this death didn’t need to happen, anger because an important life was taken by the thoughtless actions of a thoughtless actor.
At a time like this, you need attorneys who can redirect your emotions towards more productive ends and ensure that the ones who hurt your family are held accountable. You need the Indiana wrongful death attorneys at Hensley Legal Group, who have been getting justice for the everyday people of Indiana since 1998.
If you choose to hire Hensley, we will thoroughly investigate your loved one’s death and everyone at fault for it, acting swiftly to secure the materials to support your case and prevent their destruction when the situation demands it.
If there is evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the defendants, our Indiana wrongful death lawyers will work tirelessly to find it.
Obtain the Maximum Recovery Possible
After putting together an airtight case against the liable parties, we will attempt to negotiate a settlement that reflects the totality of your losses, including (when applicable):
- Medical, funeral, burial, and estate costs
- Termination of economic support
- Psychological treatment
- Lost love and companionship
- Punitive damages
Indiana law may curb how much may be awarded for a wrongful death, but Hensley Legal Group will always strive to obtain the maximum recovery possible.
You Won’t Pay Unless We Win
Your family’s pocketbook may already be stretched to the breaking point, but our firm works on a contingency basis, so you won’t have to pay us anything unless our Indiana wrongful death attorneys win your case.
It might be hard to imagine what tomorrow may bring, but we will do everything in our power to get you the future the departed would have wanted for you.
Reach Out to an Indiana Wrongful Death Lawyer
Hensley Legal Group has been fighting for the everyday people of Indiana for more than 25 years. If you are reeling from a premature loss, reach out to an Indiana wrongful death lawyer to explore your legal options.
Call us at (317) 472-3333, chat with us online, or fill out our contact form to arrange a complimentary case review with our dedicated Indiana wrongful death attorneys.
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