How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Indiana


March 18, 2019 / Wrongful Death

If a member of your immediate family was killed due to negligence or an intentional act of another, you need to know how to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Indiana to seek compensation for your loss. You need to learn who can file these types of legal actions and what can be sought by them are controlled by Indiana statutes and court cases interpreting them.

In order to file a wrongful death lawsuit, the following must be met:

  1. The deceased apparently died due to negligence or because of an intentional act of another,
  2. You are allowed by statute to benefit from the lawsuit,
  3. You seek damages allowed by state statute, and
  4. The filing occurs within two years of the person’s death.

The deceased apparently died due to negligence or because of an intentional act of another

The plaintiff (the party bringing the lawsuit) has the burden of proving the defendant (the party being sued) intentionally killed the deceased or the person died because of a negligent act or a negligent failure to act. Negligence involves showing that the defendant owed a legal duty to the deceased, acted or failed to act in violation of that duty and an accident occurred which killed the deceased. If the person was working at the time of death, compensation could be obtained through the Indiana workers’ compensation system.

You are allowed by statute to benefit from the lawsuit

If an adult is killed, the representative of the person’s estate can file the lawsuit. If the person was married, it can benefit the person’s spouse, children or other dependents. If the adult was unmarried, potentially the person’s nondependent children and parents could recover if there was a genuine, substantial and ongoing relationship with the deceased. If the deceased is a child (a person younger than 20 or younger than 23 and pursuing an education), the following can sue: the father, the mother, the person with custody of the child (in case the parents divorced or had their marriage dissolved) or the child’s guardian.

You seek damages allowed by state statute

Damages are the measurement of the harm done in dollars. If the deceased is a child, damages may be awarded for the loss of the child’s services, the loss of the child’s love and companionship, the health care needed because of the wrongful act or negligence that caused the death, the funeral and burial costs, psychiatric and psychological counseling of a surviving parent or minor sibling of the child, uninsured debts of the child and the administration of the child’s estate, including reasonable attorney’s fees. If the deceased is an unmarried adult without dependents, the damages could be medical, hospital, funeral and burial expenses, as well as for the loss of the adult person’s love and companionship. For a married adult, potential damages include, but aren’t limited to, reasonable medical, hospital, funeral and burial expenses, as well as lost earnings of the deceased caused by his or her death.

The most important part of how to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Indiana: statute of limitations.

The filing of a wrongful death lawsuit must occur within two years of the person’s death. This is the statute of limitations for this cause of action.

If you want to learn more about how to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Indiana or believe you need legal representation in such a case, contact Stephenson Rife today. We take these cases very seriously because we know the harm the loss of a loved one can do to a family, and we want those responsible to be held accountable.

Attorney Brady Rife

Attorney Brady RifeBrady Rife has developed a diverse civil litigation practice for plaintiffs throughout Indiana. Brady is heavily involved in serious personal injury matters, complex business and commercial disputes, and insurance litigation in state and federal courts. Brady has successfully tried several jury trials and bench trials as lead counsel and has also briefed multiple cases before the Indiana Court of Appeals. [ Attorney Bio ]

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