Third-Party Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Wrongful death lawsuits are brought when someone’s death is caused by the wrongful actions, or negligence, of another party. Often wrongful death suits are filed directly against the party that caused the harm, such as an employer whose neglect of workplace safety or non-compliance with safety regulations caused an employee to die. In these cases, a lawsuit can be filed on behalf of the family members who are suffering from the loss of company and financial support that the deceased would have provided.
Wrongful death cases are civil suits, not criminal ones, meaning that justice involves making someone financially whole. Jail time or other penalties do not apply in civil cases. However, if a criminal case against the defendant is successful, then a civil case for wrongful death is often in order.
Third-Party Suits Defined
A third-party lawsuit is one in which another, related party can ultimately be found liable for part or all of any financial damages the plaintiff is seeking. A successful third-party suit often provides needed financial relief when a wrongful death has occurred. However, such a suit is filed only when certain conditions are met; it is not an opportunity to bring a case without just cause.
In Indiana, wrongful death suits can be brought only by certain family members, depending on their relationship to the person who died. Third-party wrongful death suits are no different. But should a case involve workers’ compensation, a third-party suit can cover costs that workers’ comp does not due to benefit limitations.
Example Third-Party Defendants
Third-party suits often involve workers’ compensation or other insurance-related claims. Some examples of third-party wrongful death suits are:
- Your spouse worked in a warehouse. If they died because a subcontractor or vendor was responsible for the circumstances that caused the wrongful death, the subcontractor or vendor (a third party) could be sued.
- Your spouse was a machine operator. If they died because the machinery was found to be improperly maintained, defective, or dangerous by design, the party (a third party) responsible for the deadly condition could be sued.
- A family member drove a delivery vehicle for their job. If they died because of another driver, a claim could be filed against the other driver’s insurance company.
- A family member worked in a remote area because their employer asked them to. If your family member died in an accident because the owner of the remote area was negligent, you could have grounds for a third-party wrongful death lawsuit.
- A family member was killed by a drunk driver. In some cases, it can be possible to sue the bartender or the owner of the place where the driver had been drinking.
Third-party wrongful death cases are not limited to the few examples listed above.
What Types of Damages Can Be Pursued?
In wrongful death cases, both economic damages and non-economic damages (compensation for the loss of love and companionship) can be sought. When workers’ comp is involved, financial damages are generally very limited. But when a third party is found to be responsible for the wrongful death, the survivors can seek all available economic and non-economic damages.
Other types of third-party wrongful death cases can also be pursued. In a somewhat unusual case decided in October, 2014, Charles Boney, who was convicted of killing the wife and children of former Indiana State Trooper David Camm, was found liable for third-party damages. Camm asked the court to enter a judgment against Boney because of a 2005 third-party suit that Camm had filed. Boney is serving a 225-year sentence.
When others breach their duty, we keep ours.
Wrongful death claims can be costly to pursue, and many law firms are not in a position to effectively reach a resolution in these cases. You can be assured that our lawyers, and our financial resources, are willing to go the distance on behalf of you and your family. Our investigative team at McNeely Stephenson goes to work immediately to uncover the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘when,’ ‘where,’ ‘why’ and ‘how.’ We are committed to bringing together the most qualified experts available (irrespective of cost) to uncover what happened. Your experts will come from around the world if necessary. Wrongful death lawsuits can be complex, and the proficiency of your experts is crucial in both the investigation and litigation phases of your claim.
You can be assured that our attorneys, Mike Stephenson and Brady Rife, are willing to go the distance on behalf of your family and in the memory of your loved one. We offer free consultations and would like to discuss how we can be of service to you. Contact us today by calling 1-317-825-5200, or use our online contact form.