The loss of a loved one is always a difficult time for a family, especially when the death is unexpected. The deceased’s family likely needs to make arraignments for the immediate future as well as for their long-term finances. Depending on the circumstances of their loved one’s death, a major part of this plan may be the pursuit of a wrongful death lawsuit.

Not every death can be the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit, but whenever a death is caused by another party’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional act, the decedent’s family has the right to pursue compensation. A Porter County wrongful death lawyer may be able to help families bring some financial stability and peace of mind back into their lives by providing advice and legal assistance with this sensitive process. Contact an experienced attorney today.

Wrongful Death Definition

Most deaths are the result of natural causes or the decedent’s own actions. To prove that a death was wrongful, a personal representative of the deceased must prove that the defendant’s actions led to the death. This can be the end result of an accident or another person’s intentional act.

Negligent Wrongful Deaths

Deaths that result from an accident are most commonly pursued using the legal theory of negligence. In many respects, a case alleging a wrongful death resulting from an accident is similar to any other personal injury case.

The plaintiff needs to prove that the defendant owed a duty to protect the deceased, and their subsequent failure in this duty directly caused the person to pass away. Common examples of accidents that can lead to a death include:

  • Car accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Slips and falls
  • Nursing home abuses
  • Commercial vehicle accidents

Intentional Wrongful Deaths

The other major source of wrongful death suits is intentional acts. Whenever a person is killed in an act of homicide, their surviving family members have the right to pursue the killer for monetary compensation.

It is important to remember that even if a criminal court tries and convicts the defendant, the court cannot require the defendant to compensate the family of the victim. Instead, a separate but related civil suit must be filed by the decedent’s personal representative.

Indiana law provides rules specifically stating that only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file lawsuits. Indiana Code §34-23-1-1 states that this personal representative can file lawsuits on behalf of surviving family members. A personal representative is generally named in a person’s will.

If a person dies without a will, the court appoints a representative to administer to the legal needs of the estate, including the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit. These lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date of death, so timing is important.

Damages

The measurement of damages in a wrongful death lawsuit is almost always difficult. However, the plaintiff in these claims needs to place a specific value on the case when it is filed in court in order for their case to be accepted and considered.

The law states that there are two categories of compensation in a wrongful death case. Economic damages associated with the death mainly consist of outstanding medical bills associated with treating the deceased and funeral costs.

Lost earning potential is often more difficult to calculate. To determine these values, plaintiffs must often consult with expert economists to evaluate the lost future earnings to the family because of the death. Additional non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and loss of consortium can be claimed as well. A wrongful death attorney in Porter County can assist the plaintiff with recovering damages.

Porter County Attorneys Fight for Families

The unexpected loss of a family member can have a profound impact on a family, both now and in the future. In many instances, though, this burden can be alleviated somewhat through the pursuit of a wrongful death lawsuit designed to provide economic stability to the families of the deceased.

A Porter County wrongful death lawyer could help the personal representatives of a deceased person’s estate to pursue the at-fault parties in court for compensation. Whether the death was the result of an accident or a criminal act, a skilled attorney could handle your case with compassion and diligence.