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If a loved one dies because of another person’s negligence, Indiana law offers compensation to the surviving family members. The recoverable damages in a wrongful death claim depend on the victim’s age and relationship to the claimant(s). Generally, only closely related people can receive compensation. For example, someone may be eligible for compensation after the death of a parent, but not for the death of an aunt or uncle.

The Indianapolis wrongful death attorneys at Wagner Reese can help you determine if you are eligible for compensation and file a wrongful death claim for the loss of your loved one. With more than 150 years of combined legal experience, we have a strong record of winning compensation for our clients in wrongful death cases.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in Indiana?

Whether the deceased person is a child or adult at the time of death affects who can file a wrongful death claim. 

If the loved one was a child

One or both parents must be the ones to file a claim if a child’s passing is a case of wrongful death. If the parents are divorced, the parent who has legal custody of the child must file the claim. If both parents are deceased or have their parental rights terminated, the child’s legal guardian is the one to file the claim.

To file a wrongful death claim for a child, Indiana law defines a child in one of these categories:

  • A person under the age of 20 with no dependents
  • An unmarried person under the age of 23 with no dependents and who is a current student in college, technical school, or another educational program
  • A fetus whose viability has been reached

If the loved one was an adult

Some states allow surviving immediate family members to file a wrongful death claim. However, only the executor of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death claim in Indiana, although this may be a family member.

What Damages are Available from a Wrongful Death Claim?

The court awards damages according to the loved one’s age and relationship with their surviving family members. It is possible that the executor of the estate, who is the only person legally allowed to file the claim, may not be eligible for compensation for themselves and can only file for compensation on behalf of someone else, such as the deceased’s dependents.

Damages for a deceased child

According to Indiana law, the child’s parents or custodial grandparents can receive damages. If the parents did not share joint custody, they receive damages based on their respective losses. If the child was abandoned by a parent or grandparent while alive, neither parent nor grandparent can file for financial compensation.

The damages for a deceased child include the loss of the child’s love, companionship, and services. Compensation should account for psychiatric and psychological counseling costs for a surviving parent or a minor sibling.

They can also pay for the expenses related to the funeral and burial after the child’s wrongful death, any medical treatment and hospitalization costs from the fatal injury prior to their death, and any other uninsured debts that the parent must pay on behalf of the child. Costs associated with administering the estate, including the lawyer’s fees, are also considered while calculating the damages.

Damages might be awarded from the period between the child’s death and the date they would have turned the age of 20 or 23 if they were enrolled in college or technical school. They can also be given until the date of the child’s last surviving parent’s death.

Damages for a deceased unmarried adult with no dependents

Indiana permits the decedent’s estate, family, and non-dependent children to recover damages in a wrongful death claim. These include compensation for economic damages such as funeral and burial expenses and medical costs.

These individuals can also recover non-economic damages for the deceased person’s loss of love and companionship. These non-economic damages are capped at $300,000.

The decedent’s parents or non-dependent children must prove they had a substantial relationship with the deceased to recover compensation. Under Indiana law, they cannot recover punitive damages or compensation for the deceased person’s future earnings.

Damages for a deceased married adult with surviving dependents

The deceased person’s dependents can receive compensation for several types of expenses and losses. They can recover damages for funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, loss of the deceased person’s future earnings, and loss of the deceased person’s love and affection.

When you lose a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, the financial burden is too much to bear on top of your grief. That’s why the compassionate and skilled wrongful death attorneys at Wagner Reese fight hard to win you the compensation you deserve for your loss.

If you are considering filing a wrongful death claim in Indiana, schedule a no-obligation case evaluation with one of our attorneys. We can help you determine if you have grounds to file a lawsuit and help you get the settlement you need to begin to recover.