What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit filed by the “estate” of the deceased person to seek money damages for the losses suffered against a person or business that caused or contributed to the death of a person. Sometimes, there can be a criminal case that is going on at the same time as the civil case, but they are separate in nature and both can proceed at the same time. The criminal case seeks to punish the wrongdoer with jail; the civil case seeks money damages from the person or business.
What Damages Can be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
There is no “pain and suffering” or mental anguish of the deceased person as a component to the recovery – those expired with the deceased person at the time of death.
But, the law does make clear exactly what can be recovered if fault is proven by the wrongdoer:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical, hospital and other medical expenses
- Lost future wages and benefits had the deceased lived a normal life
- Costs and expenses of the lawsuit
There is no recovery by the family members for grief or sad feelings. This might sound particularly harsh, but this is due to the fact that wrongful deaths are created by a statute and only those things mentioned specifically in the statute are recoverable.
Recovery of damages does not go to the family immediately; it goes into the “estate” first. An estate is a legally-created fictional thing that acts as if the person was still alive. Medical, funeral and burial, and other expenses must go into the estate first, to pay for those expenses not paid by insurance or other means.
After those payments, then any remaining monies can be distributed to the surviving dependents. This distribution is controlled by the Court and laws of succession under Indiana law.
Who Files the Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The lawsuit is filed by the Personal Representative of the Estate. This person is often agreed upon by family members or is the surviving spouse. The Court must approve the Personal Representative appointment and Shaw Law will take care of all of this paperwork so that the case can proceed.
The lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the death or it is forever barred. This is often called a “statute of limitations” under Indiana law.
What to do if You Believe a Loved One Died as the Result of the Fault of Another Person or Business
Nothing in life prepares us for the loss of a loved one.
And it's made worse when the loved one we have lost is due to the carelessness or negligence of another person or business.
That's when you need experienced wrongful death attorneys to explain the myriad of laws in Indiana to help you and your family.
Here, at Shaw Law, we have handled wrongful death cases since the early 1990s.
We can help you through the hurt feelings, burdensome paperwork and civil litigation necessary to get you the fairness and justice you and your deceased loved one deserve.
At Shaw Law, we know that damages or recovery for the loss of a loved one is a challenging legal concept in Indiana. Call us at (260) 777-7777 today.
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