Losing a loved one due to preventable circumstances can devastate a family. Especially, if the circumstances leading to your loved one’s death involves someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing. 

If your loved one lost their life because of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, our wrongful death lawyers in Indianapolis may be able to assist your family in obtaining compensation for the financial losses and other damages associated with your loved one’s death.

Your family may need answers before it can begin to accept the unexpected death of a loved one. It can be hard to move on when you still have questions about how and why your loved one lost their life. 

In addition, you may be concerned with how you will pay for funeral and burial arrangements and support any minor children the decedent left behind. Contact Wagner Reese to learn how we can help you address these concerns.

United States Wrongful Death Statistics

According to the National Safety Council (NSC):

  • There were more than 200,000 preventable injury-related (wrongful) deaths in the United States in 2020. 
  • Four people die every ten minutes due to preventable injuries. 
  • Preventable injuries account for more than 72% of all deaths caused by injury. 

The three most common causes of wrongful death, accounting for 86% of all wrongful deaths, are:

  1. Poisoning (including prescription medications)
  2. Motor vehicle accidents; and 
  3. Falls. 

Other common causes of wrongful deaths include drownings, medical malpractice, product liability, and homicide.

What is Wrongful Death in Indiana? 

A wrongful death is a death caused by a wrongful act or omission. A person’s death may also be wrongful if the circumstances render someone else strictly liable. For example, if a dog kills a person in Indiana, where a dog owner can be strictly liable for injuries caused by their dog, the person’s death could be wrongful regardless of any wrongdoing or omission on the part of the dog owner. 

The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to compensate the family of a person who lost their life because of the negligent, reckless, or willful act of another. The victims’ estate or surviving spouse, parents, or children may be able to file a wrongful death claim against any individual or entity they believe caused their loved one’s death.

Circumstances that Commonly Result in Wrongful Death in Indiana

There are numerous circumstances that can lead to a wrongful death case. However, the most common causes of wrongful death in Indiana are as follows:

Distracted driving, drunk driving, reckless driving, road construction accidents, truck accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents are the most common causes of wrongful death cases in Indiana and across the country. 

Whenever a health care professional fails to provide a patient with the standard of care expected by someone in their profession, and that patient loses their life, the victim’s estate and surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation. Common causes of medical malpractice include misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, a failure to diagnose, surgical errors, prescription errors, and emergency room errors.

Those who design, manufacture, and distribute products have a legal duty to ensure that their products are free from defects that pose a risk to the public. If a defect in the way a product was designed, manufactured, or marketed causes someone to lose their life, anyone in the product’s line of distribution may be held liable in a wrongful death claim. 

If a person loses their life due to an accident at work that is attributed to negligence on the part of their employer, the estate and family of the deceased worker may be able to file a wrongful death claim to hold the employer financially accountable. Common causes of fatal workplace accidents include unsafe work conditions, improper training, and faulty equipment.

  • Criminal Acts

Whether accidental or intentional, any death that results in criminal charges against the person responsible can also form the basis of a civil claim for wrongful death. This includes crimes such as assault, rape, and homicide, as well as acts of extreme recklessness and wanton disregard for human life.

Regardless of the cause, you should consult with a skilled and experienced Indianapolis wrongful death lawyer who can investigate the circumstances that led to your loved one’s death. While no amount of compensation can make up for the loss of your loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit can provide you with the closure that you and your family need to begin to recover from the loss.

What Rights Do I Have After My Loved One’s Wrongful Death? 

If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to bring a wrongful death claim against the negligent party. Examples of a negligent party in a wrongful death claim include: 

  • The at-fault driver in a motor vehicle accident
  • The government entity responsible for constructing a faulty roadway 
  • The manufacturer of a defective vehicle; and 
  • The person (or establishment) who sold and served alcohol to a visibly impaired individual, who later drove drunk and killed someone

Wrongful death claims require a thorough investigation into the facts of the case. It is necessary to gather all documentation, consult with forensic economists and medical experts, negotiate with insurance companies, and prepare for trial if necessary. It is, therefore, best to consult with a qualified Indianapolis personal injury lawyer as soon as possible following the tragic loss of a loved one.

Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim in Indiana?

Who can bring a wrongful death claim in Indiana will largely depend on whether the deceased was a child or an adult when they died:

If the deceased was a child

If the deceased was a child, the child’s parents or legal guardian may bring a wrongful death claim. For the purposes of a wrongful death claim in Indiana, a child is defined as either:

  • An individual who is unmarried, without dependents, and younger than 20 years old;
  • An Individual who is unmarried, without dependents, younger than 23 years old, and still a student; or
  • A viable fetus 

If the deceased was an adult

If the deceased was an adult and left behind a spouse or dependent children, the deceased’s survivors can bring a wrongful death claim. If the deceased had no spouse or dependent children, the deceased’s estate, parents, or non-dependent children may bring a wrongful death claim.

Due to the complexity involved with determining who is eligible to bring a wrongful death claim in Indiana, it is best to consult with an experienced wrongful death lawyer. Our Indianapolis wrongful death lawyers can provide you with a free, no-obligation case assessment.

Damages in an Indiana Wrongful Death Claim 

Many factors are involved in determining the recoverable damages in a wrongful death claim. The types and amounts of compensation can vary depending on the incident that brought about the wrongful death and the responsible parties’ assets and available insurance coverages.

Wrongful death compensation may include compensation for the victim’s estate and family (i.e., wife, children, and parents) for things like:

  • Loss of the decedent’s financial support or future earnings;
  • The cost of the medical treatment the decedent received before death; and
  • Funeral and burial expenses. 

While these types of damages may be easy to quantify, other damages may also be recovered that are not so easy to quantify. For example, the victim’s spouse and children may be able to recover compensation for the loss of services the decedent would have provided, such as loss of the decedent’s love and companionship, care, and guidance.

Get Help from a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Indianapolis

If you are considering a wrongful death lawsuit in Indianapolis, do not hesitate to consult a wrongful death lawyer in Indianapolis about your rights and how you should proceed. The right law firm will let you know whether your case is worth investigating and assist you in gathering the evidence you need to build your case. 

Because you have a limited amount of time to bring a wrongful death claim in Indiana, delaying an investigation can lower your chances of success. It is best to inquire about your rights early on so that whichever law firm you retain has the time to do its job. 

The Indianapolis wrongful death lawyers at Wagner Reese have more than 150 years of combined legal experience and access to the resources you may need to build a strong claim for compensation. Contact us for a free case assessment. We love to help people protect their future and get what they deserve.

This content has been reviewed by the attorneys at the Wagner Reese offices.

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