The death of a loved one is one of the most traumatic experiences you can go through. It becomes more traumatic when you learn that your family member died due to another person’s wrongful conduct. This situation is legally a wrongful death. Indiana laws allow particular people to seek compensation in a wrongful death case.
However, it’s crucial to seek help from an Indianapolis wrongful death lawyer to increase the chances of getting the compensation you deserve. Meanwhile, it would help if you learned various aspects of filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Indiana. Here’s what you should know.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Ind. Code 34-23-1-1 defines wrongful death as death resulting from another person’s wrongful action or omissions that the victim otherwise would have survived. It includes actions that result from negligence, medical malpractice, intentional acts like murder and assault, and accident as the causes of wrongful death.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Several factors can cause wrongful death. It’s best to understand these factors to determine whether you can seek compensation for your losses. Our wrongful death lawyer in Indianapolis, can help you assess these causes and help you through the legal process. Some of the common causes of wrongful death are as follows:
A bicycle accident becomes a wrongful death lawsuit when a cyclist dies due to another person’s negligence. In many cases, motorists’ negligence may cause another person’s death due to driving while distracted, breaking the law, or speeding. Companies are responsible for wrongful death if they don’t follow the requirements to keep their vehicles safe for other road users.
All medical professionals involved in delivering babies should maintain the highest level of care to ensure safe delivery. Otherwise, they may be culpable of birth injury and wrongful death if the child succumbs to these injuries. Some of the negligent actions that may result in birth injuries and eventually wrongful death include:
- Failure to recognize a difficult birth.
- Failure to address a breech birth.
- Use of instruments like forceps.
- Excessive traction.
- Failure to recognize problems resulting in asphyxia.
Many prescription drugs are generally safe but become potentially dangerous when wrongfully prescribed, or users are not warned about their potential side effects. Some of these drugs include:
Potential life-threatening injuries associated with these drugs include bleeding, heart failure, cancer, stroke, kidney damage, and pulmonary embolism. Wrongful death lawsuits related to dangerous drugs can be complicated. That’s why it’s crucial to seek help from your Indianapolis wrongful death attorney to assess your case and determine its viability.
Daycare centers are meant to be safe places where parents take their children when at work. After all, they’re government-approved as safe places that can guarantee children’s safety. Unfortunately, the caregivers’ negligence or failure to meet specific safety requirements may cause fatal child injuries, resulting in wrongful death. The following injuries may warrant a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Brain or a head injury after a child falls from dangerous playground equipment.
- Traumatic brain injury that results from the shaken baby syndrome.
- Choking on small toys or food due to lack of supervision.
- Suffocation from sleeping with stuffed pillows or animals in a crib.
- Burns from electric devices or toys.
- Poisoning from improperly stored cleaning products or chemicals.
Defective Medical Devices
Doctors must prescribe FDA-approved medical devices to their patients. They should also prescribe medical devices according to a person’s medical condition. Failure to do this may make them culpable of wrongful death if a person dies from defective medical devices. Medical device designers and manufacturers can also be liable for wrongful death due to their negligence.
Defective products can cause significant harm, leading to wrongful death. For instance, a faulty airbag, tires, brakes, and other vehicle parts can cause a fatal injury. Electric devices can also cause catastrophic injuries when they ignite unexpectedly or explode. You can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the product manufacturer or seller if your loved one dies due to fatal injuries a defective product causes.
An average of 11 Americans drown every day. Most of these drownings are preventable. For instance, drowning in school during swimming pool classes may be preventable. The surviving members of a drowning victim can seek compensation for negligence from the person responsible for the victim’s safety. This may include public institutions, private businesses, and local municipalities.
Serious falls may be catastrophic. In such instances, property owners and managers can be liable for wrongful death resulting from these falls. Many wrongful fall-related deaths result from fatal injuries like spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and internal injuries.
Wrongful death lawsuits can arise when a person dies from medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is an injury that occurs when a doctor or a hospital fails to meet the minimum level of care needed in their practice. It represents many malpractices, such as failure to diagnose, surgical errors, misdiagnosis with fatal consequences, and birth injury.
A motorcycle accident can result in a wrongful death lawsuit if a person dies due to another person’s negligence. This kind of lawsuit usually puts other motorists sharing the road with the motorcyclists liable for the accident.
Nursing Home or Elder Abuse
The Indiana State Department for Health requires nursing homes to have a clean record concerning resident abuse, neglect, and exploitation. If an elderly person dies due to abuse, neglect, or exploitation, their residence nursing home is liable for the wrongful death. This puts the staff or the facility owner responsible for the damages incurred due to the elderly person’s demise.
Pedestrians have the right of way while sharing the road with motorists. However, negligent actions from motorists may cause pedestrian accidents resulting in catastrophic injuries. If a pedestrian succumbs to these injuries, the motorist becomes answerable to a wrongful death lawsuit.
Premises Liability Accidents
A premises liability accident can result in a wrongful death lawsuit if the surviving members prove the property owner’s negligence. The property owner is responsible for keeping their property free from hazards or posting warnings about such risks. If they fail to do so, which results in a death, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit to hold them liable.
Truckers and trucking companies should follow the rules to keep their trucks safe for other road users. However, their negligent actions may result in a truck accident. If a truck accident causes the death of a loved one, this puts the driver, trucking company, or mechanics liable for wrongful death. Some of the negligent actions that make them responsible for wrongful death include failure to inspect their trucks, overworking their drivers, driving while intoxicated, and overloading.
Work-related accident wrongful death claims are valid when an employee dies in the workplace. Workplace accidents may occur due to transportation accidents, fire, explosions, exposure to harmful substances, or constant exposure to dangerous working conditions. You must prove that your loved one died due to the employer’s negligence and that you suffered a loss due to the death.
Wrongful Death Caused by Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice represents a broad class of actions that refers to the failure to meet specific requirements in a medical practice. It includes negligent acts or omitting particular actions needed in medical practice. Some of the instances that define medical malpractice include:
- Surgical errors.
- Prescription of a drug a patient is allergic to.
- Providing wrong drugs and failing to warn about potential drug interaction.
- Failure to consider the correct medical procedure during delivery.
- Delayed treatment.
The list of actions that define medical malpractice is hardly exhaustive. It includes different steps at any point of diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up process. You must prove that these actions directly associate with the demise of your loved one to file a wrongful death lawsuit. By hiring a wrongful death lawyer Indianapolis residents will have professional help to determine whether a medical malpractice case is suitable for filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful Death Caused by Workplace Accidents
Workplace death occurs due to various reasons. This includes transportation incidents, fires and explosions, contact with dangerous equipment, and slipping and falling. No matter the cause, you can file a wrongful death claim if your loved one died due to the employer’s negligence.
You need relevant evidence to prove the employer is liable for the losses sustained through your loved one’s death at their workplace. It may be challenging to collect the proof you need since your employer may block your access to the workplace or talk to your workmates to collect evidence. That’s why you should retain the help of an Indianapolis wrongful death lawyer to file a case against your loved one’s employer.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Indianapolis?
The parties eligible for wrongful death claims in Indianapolis depend on the victim’s age. If the victim is a child, the parents or the child’s legal guardians can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Under Indiana law, a child is referred to as:
- Someone who’s not married, younger than 20 years, and has no dependents.
- Someone who’s not married, is younger than 23 years old and is enrolled in an educational program, and has no dependents.
- A fetus that has reached viability.
When the deceased is an adult, that person’s surviving members can seek compensation for the loss incurred. This includes their spouse, parent, and child. In the case where the deceased is unmarried, Indiana Code 34-23-1-2 provides that the deceased’s estate representative may seek damage against the negligent party. The estate’s representative is sometimes called the executor and may include a family member or the deceased’s attorney.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Claim?
There are several damages to collect in a wrongful death case. However, you must prove negligence in your lawsuit to be in an excellent position to collect damages. You must consider four distinct elements when proving negligence in a wrongful death claim. These elements include establishing duty, breach of duty, causation, and damage. Here’s a brief breakdown of these elements:
You must prove that a defendant had the duty of care while seeking compensation in a wrongful death case. Duty of care refers to keeping another person safe or refraining from doing something that may harm another person.
In a wrongful death case, the judge will consider several factors to determine whether another person owed a duty of care to the deceased. The judge will most likely check on the public policies that define duty in similar situations and how predictable or foreseeable the harm was. They will also review how the injury occurred and how close the defendant’s actions and the harm were.
Breach of Duty
If a surviving member determines that the defendant owed the deceased a duty of care, they should proceed to prove that the defendant breached that duty. This usually refers to evidence showing actions that led to the wrongful death. The facts provided by the surviving members or executors of the estate must be more than 50% likely to be true to be accepted in court.
Causation refers to proving that the plaintiff’s breach of duty caused the decedent harm. This means that the surviving family members should provide evidence showing a direct connection between the defendant’s actions and the injuries that the deceased succumbed to. The facts can complicate your case; however, with the assistance of a wrongful death lawyer Indianapolis families can receive much needed help with this stressful situation.
You need to prove that the decedent suffered damages while seeking compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. In a wrongful death case, it’s presumed that the surviving members incurred damages once they prove breach of duty and causation. This is a result of obvious reasons; the injured person died, and there were financial and emotional losses associated with the death.
Types of Compensation Available in a Wrongful Death Case in Indianapolis
Three types of damages are available for survivors in the wrongful death lawsuit in Indianapolis. These include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages include the value of financial contributions that a deceased would have made if they could’ve survived, including their salary, benefits, and medical coverage. It also includes:
- Medical and hospital expenses related to the death.
- Loss of the victim’s expected earnings.
- Expenses related to the surviving child’s hospitalization, outstanding debt, administration of their estate, and health care.
- Reasonable cost for counseling the parents or minor siblings affected by their loved one.
- Funeral expenses.
Non-economic damages refer to intangible losses incurred in the death of a loved one. It includes the following:
- Love of child’s services.
- Loss of love and companionship capped at $300,000.
- Loss of consortium.
Punitive damage is a monetary award to punish the defendants for their bad conduct. An eligible surviving member can seek punitive damages if they can prove the defendant’s action was out of gross negligence or disregard for human safety. The amount awarded as punitive damage is usually two or three times the economic damages a surviving member can recover.
Why File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit doesn’t bring your loved one back but holds the party responsible for their death accountable for their negligence. In most cases, financial compensation may be less crucial than honoring the memory of their loved one when they represent their interest in a court of law.
Filing a wrongful death claim also deters negligent actions that may result in wrongful death claims. The significant damages you may be awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit are a suitable deterrent to others participating in behaviors that may result in fatality.
Finally, a wrongful death claim guarantees financial compensation to help surviving members cope with losing their loved ones. It also helps offset expenses incurred by the demise of their loved one, including funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses, and hospital bills.
“Wrongful death claims are unlike any other lawsuit. They’re often complicated and filled with emotions. We understand this too well, having helped several Indiana families through a time of loss. Calling us to discuss your options can be the first step towards healing.” – Stephen Wagner.
Why It Is Important to Hire an Experienced Indianapolis Wrongful Death Lawyer
It’s crucial to seek help from a wrongful death lawyer rather than take matters into your own hands. Wrongful death attorneys have the resources and knowledge to see your case from start to finish. Some of the benefits that come with hiring a wrongful death attorney are as follows:
- They have the appropriate knowledge about the law.
- They will advise you on the steps you should take.
- They allow you to focus on healing as they take over your case.
- They’re better negotiators for your compensation.
- They save you time and money.
Wrongful Death Cases Wagner Reese Has Handled in the Past
With more than 20+ years of practice, Wagner Reese has successfully recovered numerous millions for personal injury cases. We strive to secure a full, fair recovery for all our clients. Some of the successful cases we’ve handled include:
- $6.5 million settlement for a wife and mother of three due to semi-truck negligence.
- $2.5 million compensation for a bicycle accident.
- $1.55 million settlement for a woman who died from a car accident caused by a van driver with a known heart condition.
- $1.187 million for the medical negligence of a pulmonologist who misdiagnosed lung cancer that went untreated for two years.
- $ 1.182 million for medical malpractice against a urologist who performed a wrong procedure while removing a large kidney stone.
Please note that our success in previous results varies and doesn’t guarantee similar results in your case.
Call Wagner Reese Personal Injury Lawyers
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit follows a distinct legal process. This includes proving that your loved one’s death resulted from another person’s negligence and incurred damages due to the negligence. Establishing these facts can be complicated. That’s why you need to hire an Indianapolis wrongful death lawyer to help you through the legal process.
If you’re looking for a reliable wrongful death attorney Indianapolis residents can look no further than Wagner Reese, the personal injury lawyers. Our success in wrongful death lawsuits precedes our reputation. We have achieved several multi-million verdicts for our clients and are ready to do the same for you. Contact us today and learn how we can help you.
This content has been reviewed by the attorneys at the Wagner Reese offices.
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