Before there were wrongful death laws, any claims in court for injuries sustained by someone’s negligence terminated at the death of the claimant. As a result, several states, including Indiana, determined that laws were needed to help dependents and family members recover damages after the death of a loved one.
Because there are several different laws that are applicable in a wrongful death claim in Indiana, a Michigan City wrongful death lawyer could be your best asset in helping determine which laws apply. Reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney to learn about your rights and eligibility to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The three relevant laws in Indiana include The Indiana General Wrongful Death Act, The Indiana Adult Wrongful Death Act, and The Indiana Child Wrongful Death Act. The decedent’s estate must file any claim under these statutes. The damages, commonly known as recoverable losses, that are available include:
All three wrongful death laws exclude damages for pain and suffering the decedent may have experienced. There is also a cap of $1,250,000 for damages caused by medical malpractice and a cap of $700,000 for damages caused by a government entity.
Wrongful death claims should be filed within two years of the date of death to satisfy Indiana’s statute of limitations. Failure to file a claim within this two-year window could potentially eliminate an opportunity to recover for damages. However, there may be exceptions to that time limit. As a result, a spouse, child, or dependent of a decedent should consult a Michigan City wrongful death lawyer sooner rather than later to ensure that there is still a window of opportunity to file a claim.
The General Wrongful Death Act, Code 34-23-1, allows for the reasonable reimbursement for funeral, burial, and medical expenses associated with a negligent act. Furthermore, there is the potential to recover damages for loss of love and affection after the death of the decedent for surviving spouses, dependent children, and dependent next of kin.
If a negligent act was responsible for the death of a victim, but that decedent had no dependents, the Indiana Adult Wrongful Death Act, Code 34-23-1-2, provides similar options for recovering compensation. However, damages for lost earnings are not recoverable, and there is a limit of $300,000 for damages for loss of love and companionship.
For this loss of love and companionship claim, the surviving non-dependent adult or child must establish a “genuine, substantial, and ongoing relationship with the deceased.”
This separate statute applies when a death of a child occurs in Indiana. When a child is unmarried, less than twenty years old, or less than twenty-three years old and enrolled in school, an action must be brought by the parents jointly, not by the estate. Indiana Child Wrongful Death Act, Code 34-23-2-1, would apply under these circumstances.
Losing a loved one is a painful and emotional process. Often overlooked are the costs associated with medical expenses, funeral bills, and other costs related to their death. If you suspect a family member or loved one died as a result of the negligence of another party, Indiana’s wrongful death statutes may help you recover compensation for your losses and other expenses. The first step in helping navigate these complex laws is consulting with a Michigan City wrongful death lawyer. When you are ready, reach out to an attorney.