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.

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 ]

Featured Posts

  • Should Injury Victims Negotiate Directly with Insurance Companies?Should Injury Victims Negotiate Directly with Insurance Companies?
    In Personal Injury
    A recent case handled by our law firm offers a good reminder how an insurance company’s claims adjuster’s job is to settle, even a clear liability injury case, for as little as possible and NOT for the real value of the injury. This case is a great example of what can happen when an injured victim tries to negotiate directly with a very experienced insurance claims adjuster. In this case, an insurance company initially offered only […]
  • How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?
    In Wrongful Death
    Dealing with the death of a loved one caused by someone else’s negligence can be devastating. You may receive some benefits through your loved one’s life insurance, but that might not alleviate the financial and emotional burden that you feel. You may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit for additional compensation. Wrongful death lawsuits can be complicated and stressful, so it is important to consult with an experienced […]
  • What is the average settlement for a car accident in Indiana?What is the average settlement for a car accident in Indiana?
    In Car Accidents
    It would be great if there were an average settlement for a car accident in Indiana, but unfortunately, there isn’t.  That’s because each case is so different.  The dollar amount of a settlement depends on several factors, including the severity of injuries, number of defendants, amount of medical bills, impact on your future ability to earn a living, and many other variables.  Generally, as a rule of thumb, the more catastrophic the […]

Archives