Years ago, there was no legal recourse for those who lost a loved one in a wrongful accident. Back then, when a personal injury victim died, the right to claim damages for any resulting losses suffered by the family was lost as well. Widows, children, dependents, and next of kin were finally given justice in such cases when Indiana passed its first Wrongful Death Statute. Since passing the Indiana Wrongful Death Statute, two more relevant statutes have been passed that give wrongful death survivors additional rights to a personal injury settlement, the Indiana Adult Wrongful Death Act and Indiana Child Wrongful Death Act.
Continue reading to learn facts about all three Wrongful Death Statutes in Indiana, plus how to verify your rights to pursuing a claim after the loss of a loved one.
Indiana Wrongful Death Claims
If a person or business is negligent in a way that directly causes another person’s death, it is considered a wrongful death accident. Wrongful death accidents are caused by many types of negligence, such as recklessness, inaction, product or manufacturing defects, medical malpractice and even intentional torts like assault. When a person loses a loved one in a wrongful death accident, certain persons have a right to bring about a negligence suit for the purpose of obtaining compensation for their damages and losses. Although it varies from state to state, here in Indiana, the law specifically defines eligible wrongful death claimants to be spouses, children, and dependents.
Examples of damages and losses suffered by those who have lost a loved one to a wrongful death accident generally include pre-death hospital bills and medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, loss of financial support, loss of future earnings, loss of employment benefits, loss of consortium, loss of emotional support or care, and similar expected economic losses.
Wrongful Death Statutes of Indiana:
The Indiana Wrongful Death Statute
Indiana Code § 34-23-1 is the basic wrongful death statute of Indiana. Under this act, a “personal representative of the estate” is the party permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Such representatives include spouses, children, and dependents. Additionally, there is an established statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death suit that gives claimants two years from the date of the accident that resulted in the loss of their loved one. A unique element of the Indiana Wrongful Death Statute is that there is no cap on damages. A judge or jury can award whatever settlement they deem fit without limitations.
The Indiana Adult Wrongful Death Act
This wrongful death statute is reserved for adults, which the state defines as anyone over the age of 20, or anyone over the age of 23 but still in college, and who is also unmarried and has no dependents. Under this statute, a personal representative must also be the one to file suit, and they have two years from the date of the accident that caused the death to do so. In contrast to the general wrongful death statute of Indiana, the Indiana Adult Wrongful Death Act sets a maximum recovery cap of $300,000.00 on such cases. Additionally, there are some damages that are excluded, such as lost earnings, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and punitive damages. The judge and jury also specify how much each person gets in damages if the lawsuit involves more than one child or parent.
The Indiana Child Wrongful Death Act
Indiana Code § 34-23-2-1 wrongful death act is reserved for children who have lost their lives to a negligent accident caused by another. The state defines a child as someone not married and without dependents, plus younger than 20; or younger than 23 and enrolled in a post-secondary educational institution; or younger than 23 and attending a career and technical educational program. Parents and guardians are permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit under this statute, and they have 2 years to do so from the date of the accident. As for damage caps, the limit is not set by a monetary amount, but rather, how long the child had before they crossed over into adulthood. There are also limitation to the types of damages that can be awarded in child wrongful death cases.
Have you recently lost a loved one to a wrongful death accident in Indiana? Contact the Law Office of Craven, Hoover, and Blazek P.C. at 317-881-2700 to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Indianapolis IN wrongful death attorney you can trust. Wrongful death cases are complicated so you should obtain representation immediately. We represent clients throughout the State of Indiana.