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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim

Updated July 25, 2020 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

Losing a loved one is a tragic and life-changing event under any circumstances. Often, there are financial burdens to bear alongside the emotional ones. If your loved one’s death was due to an accident of some kind, you may find yourself wondering if the accident was due to another person’s wrongdoing or carelessness.

The law may be able to help the survivors of a family member whose death was wrongful. But how can you tell if you should consider taking legal action?

Wrongful Death: When Negligence Causes a Person to Die

In legal terms, a death is wrongful if a person dies because of another party’s negligence, recklessness, or misconduct. Wrongful death claims are brought against a defendant whose action or inaction—intentional killing, medical malpractice, car accident, or other causes—resulted in the death of another person.

The deceased person’s estate can file a lawsuit against the liable party on behalf of the family or other people who were affected by the loss. Wrongful death cases have a statute of limitations of two years from the date of death in the state of Indiana. Therefore it’s important to get in touch with an attorney to make sure that everything in the case is filed properly and on time.

If you feel your loved one’s death was due to someone else’s misconduct or poor judgment, you should consider speaking with a wrongful death lawyer regarding the events that lead to the death.

Goals of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Nothing can erase the grief of losing a loved one. However, after the death of a close family member, you may be suffering potentially great financial losses in the form of medical care before the death, funeral costs, and loss of income. You may be able to collect monetary compensation for:

  • Loss of the deceased’s income or earnings, including retirement income
  • Medical expenses from the time of the negligent act until the victim’s death
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of consortium, which is meant to compensate you for your loss of the love and companionship of the deceased person.

It’s hard enough to lose someone you care about without also being saddled with a mountain of expenses while you grieve.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim

Wrongful death cases are unusual in personal injury law because the victim is no longer alive to file a claim on their own behalf. In the state of Indiana, the law says wrongful death claims should be filed by a personal representative of the deceased’s estate.

This representative is likely someone who had a personal relationship with the deceased. In Indiana, this can include:

  • A spouse if they were married
  • Adult children if they were not
  • Dependent children or the surviving spouse, if they had dependent children
  • One or both parents or a legal guardian if they were a child
  • Parents if they were a young adult

The filing options for unmarried persons who didn’t have children at the time of death are more limited, and it’s worth consulting a personal injury attorney. Siblings and non-spouse significant others cannot file claims in Indiana.

The damages from a wrongful death case are paid directly to the estate, which then becomes responsible for using the funds to pay any outstanding bills. Any damages for lost wages are divided among the surviving spouse, children, or other dependents.

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney Today

Handling the process of litigation is probably the last thing you want to be worrying about after the death of a loved one. However, it can be helpful to try for a wrongful death settlement in the event of your loved one’s passing as a way to find closure.

You and your family could recover damages to compensate for your financial losses. These can include funeral and burial expenses, hospital and other medical bills, any lost wages or benefits an adult would have earned, and the costs of pursuing litigation. If the loved one was a child, there could also be emotional damages and money available for counseling.

If your loved one died due to negligence, contact an Indianapolis wrongful death lawyer from Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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Let WKW put our experience to work for you. Contact us for your free case evaluation.


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