Indiana Wrongful Death and Survival Action | Everything People Should Know About Them
Wrongful death claims are often some of the most heartbreaking and complex ones to manage. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is already painful enough for the surviving family members, but also having to deal with high medical bills and funeral expenses can make things even worse.
Thankfully, those who are dealing with another person's death can file a wrongful death lawsuit to pursue compensation for all the damages caused. If the victim is able to prove the accident was caused due to the negligence of someone else, they may be able to recover money to pay for their bills.
Now, there are two types of wrongful death lawsuits: wrongful death claims and survival actions. While both aim to seek compensation after a person's death, they have a slight difference that everyone must be aware of.
Those who are interested in learning more about how a wrongful death claim works should keep reading this article.
What's a Wrongful Death and Survival Action?
Wrongful death, in essence, refers to a lawsuit that people can file to recover from any financial losses that came as a result of the death. A wrongful death claim isn't supposed to replace a loved one, but it can help surviving family members recover financially in these tough times.
Depending on the case, a wrongful death suit can help victims seek compensation for:
Anticipated income of the deceased
Loss of inheritance
Loss of goods and services provided by the deceased
Lost pension plans and other medical benefits
In special cases, a wrongful death attorney may also help the victim sue for:
Pain and suffering
Loss of consortium, love, or care
When it comes to filing the lawsuit, Indiana allows parents, non-dependent children, or a personal representative of the deceased person's estate to do it.
Wrongful Death Action
Also called "survival actions," a wrongful death action allows a person to recover money to cover any damages the deceased incurred before dying.
As opposed to a regular wrongful death claim, families can sue for the following damages:
Personal property damage
The victim's pain and suffering
Medical expenses and lost wages related to the injuries the victim got in the accident.
A particular factor about these wrongful death lawsuits is that if the victim already filed a personal injury claim before passing away, the state of Indiana allows their families to continue the claim after they die.
What's the Difference Between Wrongful Death Claims and Survival Actions?
Although both types of wrongful death claims are similar, there's a small difference that sets them apart. In a regular wrongful death claim, for example, a family can seek compensation for any financial losses that came due to the victim's death.
On the other hand, a survival action allows families to get compensated for any damages the victim sustained before they died.
Now, it's important to understand when people should file a regular wrongful death claim and when they should go for a survival action suit. Families could file for a wrongful death case if another person's negligence caused a person's death (i.e., a severe car accident).
If the car accident, for example, caused severe injuries to the person, but those injuries weren't related to their cause of death, then families may not be able to get compensated through a survival action case.
It's sometimes complicated to evaluate a wrongful death suit, as there can be several factors affecting the case. If an elderly person broke their arm or hip while they were in a nursing home and then died later, the deceased's family could argue that the broken arm/hip caused their death.
However, if the deceased suffered from other unrelated health problems, proving the death was caused due to a broken arm or hip could be more complicated.
How Can Someone File a Wrongful Death Case Correctly?
The best thing a victim's family can do is to hire a wrongful death attorney before filing their case. These professionals have all the knowledge necessary to determine whether the family can sue through a wrongful death claim or a survival action.
Moreover, a professional attorney will help families navigate their wrongful death claims much more comfortably, letting them know of their rights, how much they can get in compensation for wrongful death damages, and more.
Finally, if the deceased already had personal injury claims filed, an attorney could keep the case moving forward to ensure proper compensation.
How Much Can Wrongful Death Pay in Indiana?
There are many wrongful death laws/survival action statutes that allow families to seek compensation after an accident or negligent act that caused a loved one's death.
Some statutes include:
Child Wrongful Death Act
Adult Wrongful Death Act
The amount of money a person can get in a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death claim will vary depending on the circumstances.
Another important factor to consider here is that there's usually no cap on wrongful death damages in Indiana. There are two common exceptions:
If the death was related to/caused by a government entity, there's a damage cap of $700,000.
If the death was caused by medical malpractice, there's a damage cap of $1,250,000.
According to the Child Wrongful Death Act, if the victim was under 20 years old or under 23 years and enrolled in college, there will generally be no cap on damages, unless the claim involves a government entity or is related to medical malpractice cases.
On the other hand, families can file a wrongful death claim under the Adult Wrongful Death Act if the deceased didn't have any dependents or partners. Here, there's a cap of $300,000 on non-economic damages. Families will still be able to recover further compensation for any other expenses that exceed the cap. These expenses include:
What "Damages" Can Families Recover?
The damages that may be recovered in Indiana will depend on who passed away:
If the victim was a child, some common damages the family can seek compensation for include:
Loss of the child's services
Loss of love/companionship
Counseling for surviving family members
Expenses related to medical or attorney fees
If the victim was an unmarried adult who didn't have dependents, here are the damages that selected family members can recover:
Loss of love and companionship (which is capped at $300,000)
Finally, if the victim was a married adult or someone with surviving dependents, the family could recover the following in their wrongful death claim:
Funeral and burial expenses
Loss of love, affection, or care
Loss of the victim's future earnings
A great way to handle an Indiana wrongful death lawsuit is to call a professional wrongful death lawyer from the team at Schuerger Shunnarah. They're trained to handle wrongful death cases of any kind, and they will help surviving family members determine how much money they may be able to recover in damages.
What's the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in Indiana?
An essential thing to understand when it comes to any Indiana wrongful death lawsuit is the statute of limitations.
In essence, Indiana has a time limit for both wrongful death claims and survival actions. The claimant will have up to two years from the victim's date of death to file their lawsuit.
On the other hand, those who want to file for a survival action lawsuit must do it within two years from the date of the act/accident that caused the deceased's injury.
If the person fails to meet this deadline, their wrongful death lawsuit will likely get dismissed by a court. Still, two years is enough in most cases, so it's important for surviving family members to file their lawsuit as soon as possible to ensure a higher chance of getting compensated.
Hiring a lawyer to seek compensation will greatly increase the claimant's chances of winning. Schuerger Shunnarah's attorneys, for example, have knowledge about all the tricks and strategies other people use to offer lowball settlement offers, and they use that to turn the case around and get their clients the compensation they deserve.
Why Should Families File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit with an Attorney?
A death is often devastating for families, especially if it was caused because of someone else's negligence. In those cases, dealing with the right paperwork and evidence to file a case can easily get overwhelming, which can lead to errors that can hurt the claimant's chances of getting compensated.
By hiring a lawyer, the claimant will be able to focus on grieving while the legal counsel gathers everything they need to settle the case as soon as possible. This will help families save time and money in the long run, which will be essential in any grieving process. They can advise on questions like "Who can file wrongful death in Indiana?"
Bottom Line - Filing Wrongful Death Lawsuits with the Right People
No one wants to ever go through a wrongful death case, but it's always an excellent idea to educate oneself on what to do if it ever happens.
Regardless of the circumstances, hiring a lawyer will be the most appropriate option to ensure peace of mind during these tough times. They can also answer questions like, "How do you prove nursing home abuse in Indiana?"
The attorneys at Schuerger Shunnarah are willing to go to war for their clients, so those who are interested in getting justice after the death of their loved one should get a consultation with the team today.