Updated September 1, 2021
The question of who can bring a wrongful death claim is really dictated by the type of claim that it is.
In a situation where the person who has been killed is married or has dependent children or other dependent next-of-kin, then an estate has to be opened, and the estate actually brings the claim. Opening an estate involves usually having the surviving spouse appointed as the estate representative, who goes to court, and the judge approves the opening of the estate. Then, the case is filed on behalf of the estate. Indiana law then dictates how the money recovered will be divided. The loss of love and affection and the lost income will be divided between the surviving spouse and the children.
The second case, which is when an adult person dies but they do not have any surviving dependent next-of-kin or dependent children, instead their parents survive or they have siblings who survive, that case is also brought by an estate. Then, the amount of money that would go to either the adult children of the deceased person or the parents is dictated by the type of relationship that those surviving adult children or parents would have with the person who was killed.
The third type of claim is the wrongful death of a child. In that case, the parents bring the claim directly, so there does not have to be an estate opened, and either the mother or the father or the parents jointly can bring a claim for the wrongful death of their child with the primary damage element being the loss of love and affection that has been suffered because of the death of the child.
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