Whether death is caused by a work accident, a car accident, or another type of tragedy, it leaves emptiness and broken families. The wrongful death of a loved one not only leaves us without the company and presence of that person, but it also often leaves families in a financial bind, without income, and with hospital expenses or steep funeral costs.
No one wants to have to speak with an attorney, especially during a time of great loss and suffering. At Wagner Reese, we believe that justice is served when everyday Hoosiers hold reckless and negligent individuals or corporations accountable for their wrongdoing.
We invite you to reach out to our Indianapolis wrongful death attorneys for a free, no-obligation consultation. Call (888) 204-8440 to get started.
What Is a “Wrongful Death?”
In legal terms, a wrongful death occurs any time an individual is killed as a result of negligence or the careless, reckless, or intentional actions of another person or entity. In other words, if death was preventable, it is likely considered “wrongful.”
Wrongful death can occur due to countless factors, such as:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Premises liability accidents
- Defective products
- Defective medical devices and drugs
- Work-related accidents
- Daycare incidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Birth injuries
These are some of the most devastating and complex cases we handle. Our Indianapolis wrongful death lawyers understand what you have been through and are here to help you navigate the legal process. We work tirelessly to secure maximum compensation.
Wrongful Death Caused by Medical Malpractice
Incidents that lead to wrongful death in the medical field include surgical errors, missed diagnoses, and hospital-related infections. Ranking as the highest cause for wrongful death in the U.S., around 210,000 people die each year because of a medical mistake.
Poor communication, over-tired doctors, understaffed hospitals, and many other factors contribute to the high number of medical mistakes. The truth is, these errors are killing more people each year than drug abuse deaths and car accident deaths combined.
Wrongful Death Caused by Workplace Accidents
Although it’s the least common type of wrongful death accident, there are still nearly 5,000 people who lose their lives each year in workplace accidents. Often times, workers' comp is not enough to cover the surviving family members’ living expenses. A lawsuit can help a family carry on, even without the ongoing income and support of their loved one.
Common causes of work-related wrongful death:
- Construction accidents
- Car or truck accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Factory accidents
Indiana workers' compensation death benefits are among the lowest in the country, so wrongful death lawsuits can often bridge the gap for grieving families.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Indiana?
When a person is wrongfully killed, certain surviving family members and other individuals are entitled to take legal action against the negligent party or parties. In Indiana, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by the legal representative of the deceased’s estate, which is most often their next of kin such as a spouse, adult child, parent, or sibling.
The estate representative, called a personal representative, is appointed by the court. Our firm starts each case by preparing the necessary paperwork to file with the court.
Regardless of who is appointed as a representative of the estate, it is important to understand that damages are awarded to the deceased person’s spouse, children, or, if there are no children or a spouse, to relatives who may have been financially dependent on the deceased. In the case of an adult who dies with no spouse, minor children, or other dependents, damages may be awarded to their parents or adult children.
These individuals are considered beneficiaries of the estate and, if the claim is successful, compensation will be split amongst them in a manner decided by the court.
What If the Deceased Victim Is a Child?
If the deceased is a child, it is not necessary to open an estate. Instead, a wrongful death claim may be brought by either (or both) of the child’s parents. Oftentimes, the deceased child’s parents are no longer together. In that situation, either parent can file a wrongful death claim, but they are required to bring in the other parent as a party to the lawsuit.
The process of pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit in Indiana is often very complex, with specific requirements governing how claims must be filed and how compensation can be recovered. It is important that you speak with an experienced wrongful death lawyer about your legal rights and options.
What Types of Damages Can My Family Recover?
If you have lost a loved one due to one of these types of accidents, your biggest question may be, “What types of damages will my family recover in the process?” When you hire Wagner Reese, rest assured that we will comb through every detail of your case. We will fight to recover the maximum amount of damages allowed under the law.
Wrongful death damages can be awarded in multiple categories, which include:
- Lost financial support: Was your loved one the primary financial provider in your home? Will your quality of life be dramatically altered without their income and support?
- Lost household services: Was your loved one responsible for taking care of the household, the children, and other important aspects of your home life?
- Loss of parental guidance: Are there survivors minors who are left without the guidance of a parent? How will this impact their choices, decisions, and quality of life?
- Loss of love, care, and affection: Did you lose someone with whom you shared a large portion of your life? Someone whose loss leaves a hole in your life?
- Medical expenses: Was your loved one's death the result of a drawn-out medical process which caused you to incur medical bills you will struggle to pay?
- Funeral and burial expenses: Were you overwhelmed with and unprepared for funeral and burial costs in the wake of your loved one’s death?
- Lawyer fees related to the lawsuit: You didn’t plan for this, yet are you finding yourself left to pay for things that weren’t your fault?
If you have answered yes to any of these above questions, our team at Wagner Reese wants to help you move forward with the next step in the process.
Civil Damages & Caps on Damages
In the state of Indiana, some wrongful death claims have limits, or “caps,” on damages.
Here is a brief summary of which claims are subject to limits on damages:
- If the deceased was an adult and had a spouse or surviving children, there is no limit on damages; the amount is left up to a jury to decide based on the individual details of each case, such as the medical bills incurred, amount of lost wages, etc.
- If the deceased was a child (under the age of 20 or under 23 if they are enrolled in college), there is also no limit on damages.
- If the deceased person was an adult (at least 23 years of age), unmarried, and had no minor children, non-economic damages are capped at $300,000. Reimbursement for medical bills, funeral expenses, and attorney fees can be awarded in addition to the $300,000 limit.
- In medical malpractice cases, there is a cap of $1,250,000 applicable to all claims.
- If a wrongful death lawsuit is being filed against a government entity, such as the state of Indiana, a city, town, or school, there is a cap of $700,000 applicable to all claims, regardless of the amount of medical bills, expenses, or attorney fees.
Why File a Wrongful Death Case?
If you lose a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, there are both emotional and financial losses. The emotional damages are obvious. Although nothing can bring back your loved one, Indiana law allows recovery for the loss of love and affection. From a financial standpoint, a lawsuit can restore the financial security you had before their death.
“Wrongful death claims are unlike any other lawsuit; they’re often complicated and filled with emotion. We understand this all too well, having helped several Indiana families through a time of loss. Calling us to talk through your options can prove to be a first step toward healing.” –Stephen Wagner
Wrongful Death Cases We've Handled in the Past
In one case we handled, a surviving wife filed a wrongful death claim for her husband who was killed on the job. She knew that without his income, and because she had been out of the workforce for many years while raising their children, her family's lifestyle would be significantly altered. Not only this, but her children were left without their father, which left a gaping hole in their family (what the courts refer to as a loss of love and affection).
With the money the family received from the settlement, they were able to pay off their house, make investments for college for the children, minimize their expenses, and afford quality childcare for the kids when the mother returned to the workforce.
In another case we handled, adult children of an elderly father were left with devastating medical bills after an error caused their father to sustain a fatal infection in the hospital. The children filed a wrongful death suit against the hospital and were awarded damages sufficient to cover medical bills, burial expenses, and other costs incurred by their father’s death—which they wouldn’t have incurred were it not for the hospital’s error.
Contact Wagner Reese for a Free Consultation
If you've lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person, don’t wait. The statute of limitations on these cases is two years from the date of death. Emotional recovery, we understand, may take a lifetime. Financial recovery is something we can assist you with so you don’t have to struggle under the weight of debt on top of your other losses.
With more than 150+ years of combined legal experience, our wrongful death attorneys in Indianapolis understand the intricacies involved in this area of law. Our firm utilizes a client-focused approach, along with results-driven strategies that have helped us successfully recover millions of dollars in compensation on behalf of our clients.
Our firm provides free initial consultations, as well as Spanish-speaking services, and we can meet with you at your home or in the hospital if you are unable to make it to our office. We offer all of our services on a contingency fee basis, meaning you do not pay unless we win your case. Call (888) 204-8440.