One of the most difficult and emotionally trying times that a family can experience is the loss of a loved one. Even when this loss is due to a terminal disease or old age, the impact is often felt for years. When this loss is unexpected, however, the results can be catastrophic.
Whenever a death is caused by an accident or intentional act that can be attributed to the actions of another party, the family of the deceased have the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit with the help of a dedicated personal injury attorney. A Chesterton wrongful death lawyer could work with the families of the recently deceased to pursue their cases in a compassionate but powerful manner. En Español.
In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff in the case is the person who was injured. Of course, this cannot happen in a wrongful death claim, so Indiana law provides for alternate plaintiffs in the state’s wrongful death statute. Contained in Indiana Code 34-23-1-1, the statute explains that the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can serve as a plaintiff in a wrongful death claim.
A personal representative is usually named in a person’s will, but may be appointed by the Court if the decedent died without a will. This representative pursues the claim on behalf of the estate instead of for their own gain, but the representative may still be a family member.
In general, a wrongful death can happen in any situation that could otherwise lead to a personal injury. The plaintiff—in this case, the personal representative—must be able to prove that the defendant caused the death through either an accident or intentional act.
Each specific type of accident has their own elements that a plaintiff must be able to prove to win their case. The procedure for this will be identical to those where the plaintiff is merely injured, but the plaintiff must allege that the negligence caused a death.
Other wrongful death cases can come about from criminal acts. A defendant is charged with murder, manslaughter, or even vehicular homicide may face criminal charges, but the outcome of any criminal case is entirely independent of any civil claim.
Even if a defendant is acquitted at trial of the actions that led to the death, a civil case may still be successful. In the same vein, a conviction in criminal court cannot guarantee that a civil court will order the defendant to pay damages.
The statute of limitations is the timeframe in which a claimant must either file a lawsuit or settle the case. If neither is done at the end of the given time period, they lose the right to sue. In general, the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death case is two years from the date of the accident that caused the death. It does not necessarily begin on the date of death itself. For example, if an individual was in a car accident and remained hospitalized for six months before passing away, the two-year statute of limitations would still begin on the date of the accident. A Chesterton lawyer could keep track of the applicable statute of limitations and help a plaintiff file their wrongful death case on time.
A survival action is meant to compensate an individual for the period of time from the injury up until death. If death is immediate, there would be no survival action, but if the person lived for any further period of time after the accident, there could be a survival action paid out until their passing. The statute of limitations for the survival action begins on the date of the accident.
The Indiana wrongful death statute also outlines the potential compensation that an estate can claim in its case. The main core of the case will often focus around collecting compensation for outstanding medical bills, funeral costs, and burial expenses. These payments are only intended to pay off any costs associated with the death that are not covered by insurance.
A second category of compensation is lost future earning potential. These payments are not as easily measured as medical or funeral costs, but nonetheless must be accounted for. A wrongful death attorney in Chesterton could work with economic experts to properly estimate the lost earning potential for the family that resulted from the death.
The statute also imposes a strict statute of limitations on when a representative can bring a wrongful death claim. The law says that a plaintiff has only two years from the date of death to file a case in court. This is a short period of time, especially for such an important matter, so contact a Chesterton wrongful death lawyer today.