Indiana Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations – What Victim's Survivors Should Know
Under Indiana law, the surviving family members of a person who died due to an individual's or entity's acts or behavior are entitled to financial compensation. Moreover, they can get legal assistance to hold at-fault parties accountable for their loved one's death.
However, claimants should consider the statute of limitations to know when to file a wrongful death action.
How long do victims' survivors or estate have to file a claim after the wrongful death occurred? Here's all the information affected parties should know!
Understanding What Is Wrongful Death in Indiana
Indiana laws define "wrongful death" as the death of a person that resulted from another party's negligence, wrongful act, carelessness, or intentional behavior.
The situations that often cause wrongful deaths are generally similar to those that result in personal injuries, including the following:
Motor vehicle accident
Unsafe premises incidents
Unsafe products accidents
What Is the Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
Anyone who has the grounds to file a wrongful death suit in Indiana and plans to take legal action against at-fault parties should understand the potential impact of the statute of limitations on their case.
Essentially, the statute of limitations is a law that limits how long people have to take legal action after the incident that caused their injury or the death of a loved one.
Under the Indiana legal system, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years. The victim's surviving family members who try to file a lawsuit after that period will likely see their cases dismissed.
In addition, after the deadline set by the statute of limitations, injured people or deceased victims' families and legal representatives lose the right to recover compensation.
Victims' survivors and legal representatives need to understand the laws and know how much time they have to file a wrongful death lawsuit in order to keep track of their cases and maximize their opportunities for recovery compensation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Indiana law determines who can file a wrongful death lawsuit based on the decedent's age. Therefore, it can vary depending on whether the victim is a child or an adult. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also explain the difference between wrongful death and manslaughter.
Filing a Wrongful Death Suit on Behalf of Child Decedents
Often, parents are legally able to file a wrongful death lawsuit if their children are killed by someone else's actions. However, when they have divorced, the mother or father with legal custody can file a claim.
Indiana law considers a "child" to be a person who meets the following criteria:
Is not married and under 20 years old
Is under 23 years old and has not married or have any dependents but has enrolled in a career, college, or technical school
A fetus after reaching viability
Under the Indiana Child Wrongful Death Act, also known as the CWDA, if an unmarried child aged under 23 and enrolled in an educational program dies, the parents must take legal action instead of the child's estate.
However, when the victim's parents lose their parental rights, a child's legal guardian can file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim on Behalf of Adult Decedents
In many states, the deceased person's surviving spouse or other family members can file a wrongful death claim if their loved ones have died as a result of another person's actions or behavior.
However, wrongful death laws are slightly different in Indiana. This state only allows a personal representative of the deceased adult's estate or "the executor" to file the claim.
Recovering Wrongful Death Compensation in Indiana
Like other states, Indiana has also set laws about the compensation that victims' relatives or estate can get if they file a wrongful death claim.
Compensation for the Wrongful Death of a Child
When the deceased person is a child, their family members or parents can recover medical bills, costs related to the victim's care and hospitalization, and outstanding debts.
Claimants may also recover compensation for the following:
Loss of the child's companionship
Loss of the child's love
Administration of the child's estate
Counseling for parents and surviving siblings
Compensation for the Wrongful Death of an Adult
If claimants file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of adults, how the compensation is distributed varies depending on whether the victim was a married adult with dependents or not.
The family members, estate, or non-dependent children of an unmarried adult may recover compensation for medical costs, loss of companionship, and funeral and burial expenses. However, they must prove they had a genuine and ongoing relationship with the deceased individual.
In these cases, Indiana courts are required to award medical, hospital, funeral, and burial expenses to the deceased person's estate since this sum must cover such costs.
Additionally, this state does not award punitive damages or compensation for lost future earnings or grief to victims' parents and non-dependent children.
If the victim was married and had a dependent child, claimants may recover compensation for various losses and damages, such as medical, funeral, and burial expenses.
The deceased person's spouse or dependent child may also recover damages for the loss of the victim's future earnings, affection, love, care, and guidance through a wrongful death claim.
Indiana courts also award compensation for funeral, burial, and medical expenses to the victim's estate first. The deceased person's family members often receive other damages or the remainder.
Do People Need a Lawyer to File an Indiana Wrongful Death Claim?
Handling a wrongful death case requires knowledge and experience. Therefore, victims' family members should seek help from the best wrongful death lawyer in Indianapolis if they plan to take legal action against at-fault parties.
A seasoned wrongful death attorney can help the deceased person's relatives, estate, or dependent child understand Indiana laws and build a strong case.
In addition, attorneys can offer guidance through the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit and will go the extra mile to get the best outcome.
Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Today!
Those who want to take legal action on behalf of their deceased loved ones and file a wrongful death claim can contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys.
This law firm has a team of attorneys with extensive experience in wrongful death cases ready to help victims' surviving families recover the compensation they deserve and hold liable parties accountable for their negligence.
Contact us today, get your case reviewed by a wrongful death attorney, and get a free consultation!