The sudden loss of a loved one due to another’s negligence is both heartbreaking and challenging. While no amount of money can compensate for the emotional scars left by the death of a loved one, pursuing a wrongful death claim can provide the bereaved family with the financial support they need.

A wrongful death claim is a legal action that seeks compensation for the survivors of a loved one who died in a fatal accident, such as a car wreck, work accident, or medical malpractice event.

Filing a wrongful death claim can feel overwhelming. But you don’t have to go through the steps alone. Our compassionate Indiana wrongful death lawyers can walk you through every step to help you secure the compensation you and your family deserve.

Step 1: Contact a Lawyer

Contacting a lawyer should be your first step when considering whether to file a wrongful death claim. An experienced attorney can provide essential guidance from the outset, ensuring you navigate the initial complexities correctly.

Their expertise can help assess your claim’s viability, preserve critical evidence, and avoid common pitfalls that might jeopardize your case. Given the time-sensitive nature of wrongful death claims, immediate legal counsel ensures you don’t miss crucial deadlines or opportunities for compensation.

Step 2: Determine Your Eligibility

Determining eligibility is the first action your lawyer will take in your wrongful death claim.

A wrongful death claim must be initiated by the personal representative or executor of the deceased’s estate. This is typically a surviving family member, such as the deceased’s spouse or child. They are often mentioned in the deceased’s will or chosen by the court.

Consult your attorney to understand who is eligible to file the claim to ensure the right individuals take action.

Step 3: Establish the Statute of Limitations

In Indiana, the window to file a lawsuit after a loved one’s death is typically two years from the date of passing. Missing this time frame might forfeit your chance at compensation.

Your attorney will ensure you adhere to key deadlines, optimizing your family’s chances for a successful claim.

Step 4: Gather Evidence

Establishing a solid wrongful death claim in Indiana hinges on gathering appropriate evidence. With your attorney’s help, you’ll need to collect evidence to substantiate the losses your family has endured, which may include:

  • Detailed police reports
  • Medical records of injuries and treatments
  • Firsthand witness testimonies
  • Photos from the accident scene and of their injuries
  • Surveillance or dashcam video footage
  • Documentation of the deceased’s earnings
  • Opinions from expert witnesses
  • Related correspondences (emails, texts, letters)
  • The official death certificate
  • Receipts for funeral expenses
  • Personal journals detailing pain or suffering after the incident

Step 5: Assess Damages

At this stage, your attorney will review the evidence to understand the financial and emotional impact on your family. In Indiana, damages can cover medical and funeral expenses, lost wages, future earnings, and emotional distress. A detailed assessment is essential to claim all the compensation you deserve.

A personal injury claim can shift to a wrongful death claim if the injuries from an accident lead to a later death. For example, if your loved one initially survives a car crash but dies from those injuries a month later, the claim would change from personal injury to wrongful death. Your attorney will advise on how this change might affect your potential compensation.

Step 6: File Your Claim

Working with your attorney, you can file two types of wrongful death claims to seek compensation: a claim with the responsible party’s insurance company or a wrongful death lawsuit in court.

  • Settlement claim: You have the option to pursue an out-of-court settlement. This typically begins with your attorney sending a demand letter to the responsible party’s insurance company. This letter highlights the specifics of the incident, reasons for their liability, the compensation being sought, and the supporting evidence.

Taking this route can enable you to obtain compensation without needing a trial, streamlining the process and potentially reducing costs. If a mutual agreement isn’t achieved, the next action is to file an official lawsuit.

  • Formal lawsuit: With the guidance of your attorney, you can file a formal complaint in court. This document details the allegations, the evidence supporting your claim, and the damages you seek.

This officially begins legal proceedings and notifies the defendants of the action against them. A judge or jury will decide your final damage award based on the evidence.

Our Wrongful Death Attorneys Work to Help Indiana Families

Losing a loved one is a traumatic experience, made even more challenging when another’s negligence is at fault. If you’re considering a wrongful death claim in Indiana, trust the experienced attorneys at Wagner Reese to guide you.

With a clear understanding of each crucial step, from gathering evidence to filing the claim, we stand by our clients’ sides. Don’t navigate this process alone—let our skilled team support you in recovering the financial compensation you need to rebuild your life.

Contact us today to receive a free, no-obligation consultation and explore your legal options for pursuing the compensation you deserve.