Indianapolis Wrongful Death Lawyers

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Driving has inherent dangers, such as the high speeds at which vehicles move, which is why every motorist should take precautionary measures to keep themselves and others safe on the road. Unfortunately, more than 38,000 deaths are linked to car accidents every year in the U.S.

In some cases, a car accident can lead to the demise of a loved one. If you lost a loved one in a personal injury, you could seek the assistance of a wrongful death attorney to guide you on how to get justice. Here is more information on wrongful death cases in Indianapolis and how an Indianapolis personal injury lawyer can help your case.

What is Wrongful Death in Car Accidents?

Death is a natural occurrence, but if it is caused by the misconduct of another person, such as the recklessness of a driver, a criminal activity, or a vehicle manufacturing defect, it is a wrongful death. Common causes of car accidents include driver fatigue, drunk driving, driver distraction, and overspeeding.

Common Types of Fatal Accidents

According to the Traffic Safety Facts Annual Report, the following are the most common type of fatal accidents in descending order:

  • Front Impact
  • Rear Impact
  • Left Side Impact
  • Right Side Impact

The same report mentions the most common maneuvers in fatal car accidents. Here is the list in descending order:

  • Going Straight
  • Negotiating a Curve
  • Turning Left
  • Merging or Changing Lanes
  • Stopping in Traffic

Proving Negligence in a Wrongful Death Case

To prove negligence in a wrongful death case, you and your attorney must prove elements of negligence:

  • Duty of care: You must show the at-fault party had a duty of care.
  • Breach of Duty: Once the duty of care has been established, you must prove that the at-fault party breached that duty of care.
  • Causation: In this step, you must prove that the breach of duty of care led to the demise of your loved one.
  • Damages: As a last step, you must prove all the economic and non-economic losses resulting from the wrongful death.

Who Can File Wrongful Death Claims?

Indiana law constitutes who can bring wrongful death claims against the at-fault driver, considering whether the deceased was a child or an adult. If the car crash results in the death of a child, either one of their parents would be eligible to bring a wrongful death claim. If their parents are divorced, the parent with legal custody can file a wrongful death claim. If the child’s parents are also deceased, their legal guardian is eligible to pursue litigation.

Under the law in Indiana, a child is someone:

  • Unmarried and does not have any dependents.
  • Under the age of 20.
  • Under the age of 23 and enrolled in an educational institution.
  • A viable fetus

If an adult is killed due to a car accident, their executor or personal representative is eligible to file a wrongful death claim in Indiana. Others who are also eligible to file are:

  • The deceased’s spouse or children
  • Anyone dependent on the victim.
  • If the adult had no dependents, their parents or non-dependent children could file a claim.

Filing a wrongful death claim can get complex depending on the facts of the case. Therefore, it is best to seek guidance from an experienced lawyer.

Is There a Cap on Wrongful Death Compensation?

The wrongful death damages can have a maximum limit depending on the specifics of the case. For example, suppose an unmarried adult with no dependents is killed in a car accident. In that case, the maximum compensation is $300,000, plus medical, funeral, and burial costs. However, under Indiana Law, there is no cap on wrongful death damages if the deceased was a married adult with dependents or if the deceased was a child.Photo of person in hospital bed

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in Indianapolis

In Indiana, if anyone suffers the loss of a loved one due to a car crash, they have two years from the date of the person’s death to file a wrongful death claim. If they do not file a claim within the timeline, their claim can be nullified. The statute of limitations for wrongful death in Indianapolis is the same for an adult or child.

What Type of Compensation Can Be Received for Wrongful Death?

If The Deceased Was a Child

The family can be entitled to compensation for lost love and companionship, estate administration, medical expenses, attorney fees, and the reasonable costs of counseling for all survivors in the family who are struggling due to the death.

If The Deceased Was Un-Married With Non-Dependent Children and Parents

Their parents, estate, or non-dependent children can recover funeral and burial expenses, hospitalization and treatment expenses, and the damages for the loss of love and companionship. Typically the hospitalization and burial expenses can be awarded to the estate by the Indiana court so they can pay for the damages. The rest of the damages are awarded to the parents and non-dependent children of the deceased.

Under Indiana law, courts are prohibited from awarding the surviving family of the deceased with punitive damages or damages of grief to compensate for the loss of future income. The unmarried adult’s non-dependent children and parents should also prove in court that they had a substantial and ongoing relationship with their deceased loved one to recover damages.

The Deceased Was Married or has Dependents

According to Indiana law, if the deceased was married and has surviving dependents, they can be entitled to compensation for the loss of love, companionship, guidance, training, future income, medical expenses, and burial expenses. In addition, other relative dependents can also hold shares in the deceased’s personal property. A wrongful death attorney can guide you about the Indiana laws regarding wrongful death cases and personal property distribution.

Hiring A Wrongful Death Attorney in Indianapolis

Dealing with insurance adjusters can be daunting. While they may seem sympathetic, their sympathy can end as soon as the settlement negotiations begin. Hiring an Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer would help you handle communication and negotiation with insurance companies. They can also handle all the legal paperwork required to obtain compensation for the loss of your loved one.  Proving wrongful death in an auto accident can get complex and is usually determined through a police investigation. However, your attorney can help you gather evidence and expert witnesses to ensure you obtain a fair amount of compensation. Before suing the at-fault driver, you should consult an attorney well-versed in the state laws who can help you get justice for your loved one. We welcome you to contact us at our Law Firm In Indianapolis, the RileyCate, LLC, for expert legal advice and representation.