Wrongful death claims are civil cases. Therefore, damages are intended to help the estate and surviving family members (spouse, children, dependents) recover the losses directly related to the death. Keep in mind that the state of Indiana caps damages in most wrongful death cases at $300,000.
While a personal injury attorney can help explore options, Indiana generally allows–but does not necessarily guarantee–the following recovery options for a deceased person’s estate, spouse, or children:
- Funeral and burial expenses. Laying a victim to rest is a heavy burden for a family to bear, both emotionally and financially. It’s possible to receive money to help pay for funeral arrangements.
- Medical and hospital expenses. If there was any healthcare involved in the deceased’s case, the surviving family might have been left with a large stack of bills.
- Lost wages and benefits. If the deceased was an adult with a spouse or dependent children and worked at the time of death, his or her family will no longer receive that income. It’s possible to get reimbursed for both lost wages and benefits. A family may also seek damages for retirement benefits or a pension. In this case, the money would be divided between the surviving children and spouse at the discretion of the court.
- The costs of pursuing the lawsuit. Litigation can be pricey, and a lot of time spent in court can add up. If you can get damages that will help defray the cost of legal proceedings, it could put you a little bit more at ease.
- Pain and suffering. In general, Indiana does not allow for damages to be recovered for grief. However, if the victim in the wrongful death case was a child, there is an exception: It’s possible for the child’s parents to recover damages for the loss of what are legally known as the child’s “services”—the love and companionship that they offered before their death.
- Counseling. As with pain and suffering, money for counseling after a death is generally not awarded except in cases where there was the loss of a child. If the surviving parents or any siblings require counseling in order to cope with the grief, it is possible to recover money to pay for that service.
When hiring an attorney, it’s important that a personal injury lawyer be experienced in wrongful death cases. Familiarity with state laws and statutes will be crucial in the success of a wrongful death case.