How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?


July 1, 2019 / Wrongful Death

The unexpected death of someone you love turns your world upside down. The person who has always been there for you is gone, and the emotional and financial fallout is life-shattering. When your loss is something that could have been prevented — that’s due to the negligence or wrongful acts of another person or business — the toll may be even more difficult to bear.

How do you prove wrongful death? If you’ve lost a spouse, child, or parent and someone else is at fault, the Indianapolis wrongful death lawyers at Stephenson Rife will work hard to uncover the evidence, build an airtight case, and win you the damages you deserve. No amount of money will bring your loved one back, but you can hold the responsible party accountable.

What Is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is a legal term that refers to the death of an innocent person due to the negligence or wrongful actions of another person or entity. In Indiana, as in other states, the close relatives of the deceased are entitled to sue the party at fault and recoup damages. Examples of wrongful death cases include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Nursing home abuse and neglect
  • Defective products
  • Workplace accidents.

How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?

In order to have a legitimate wrongful death claim, you must be a close relative of the deceased. (Generally, parents, legal guardians, spouses, and children may sue.) In Indiana, the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is two years, which, depending on the case, may be calculated from the date of the act that led to death or the date of death itself.

The plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed the deceased a certain “duty of care,” meaning they had a responsibility to keep the person safe or to refrain from inflicting harm. The plaintiff must also prove that the defendant breached that duty, that the breach of duty caused your loved one’s death, and that you’ve suffered quantifiable damages as a result.

Take a motor vehicle wreck as an example. Your lawyer may argue that the defendant had a duty to operate his car in a manner that didn’t endanger other people on the road, that he breached that duty by getting behind the wheel intoxicated, and that this reckless decision caused his car to crash into your relative’s vehicle, leading to your loved one’s death.

Damages in wrongful death cases may include:

  • Medical expenses incurred before death
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Reasonable counseling fees for the family
  • Uninsured debt incurred by a child
  • Costs of administering a child’s estate.

For cases in which the deceased was an unmarried adult with no dependants, Indiana caps damages at $300,000. There are no caps in the state.

Pain and suffering damages are generally not allowed in wrongful death cases, but you may be compensated for loss of love or companionship.

If your loved one has been killed and you believe another party is responsible, call Mike Stephenson for compassionate representation that gets results.

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