Wrongful Death - Product Failure

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Indianapolis Wrongful Death Lawyer

The unexpected and horrific death of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence is an experience no family should have to bear.  But families sometimes do, and we’re here to help them.

Our Indianapolis wrongful death lawyers have been privileged to represent numerous families struggling after the loss of a family member. We have been enriched by the memories shared by those left behind and inspired by the boundless love that endures beyond death.

We know that a family’s pain is compounded in wrongful death lawsuits because the loss was unexpected and caused by someone else’s negligence. This double whammy of intense grief and anger complicates the healing process.  If you have been impacted by a wrongful death, we encourage you to call the wrongful death attorneys at McNeely Stephenson in Indianapolis at (317) 825-5110.  You don’t have to endure this alone.  And we will help you seek the compensation you deserve for your loss.

What Does “Wrongful Death” Mean?

Indiana wrongful death lawyerWrongful death is a legal term that means an innocent person’s death was caused by the negligence or wrongful actions of another party.  Indiana recognizes the rights of survivors to sue that person, along with other businesses and entities, to be compensated for the lost financial earnings the deceased would have provided.  While this is only partial comfort to grieving survivors, it can help spouses, children and loved ones move on with their lives.

Examples of a wrongful death can include cases such as:

Multiple Entities Can Be Sued

People and businesses beyond the negligent person can be sued, and they vary widely. For example, in a wrongful death suit in which both a drunk driver and a roadway defect were involved, those who might be sued include:

  • The driver at fault, or the driver’s employer
  • The person who served, sold or gave alcohol to the impaired driver
  • The owner of the establishment that served the alcohol
  • The builder or designer of the bad road
  • Any agent of the government who did not provide warnings concerning the road hazard
  • Anyone responsible for a faulty part in the vehicle, such as the manufacturer, the installer or the distributor of the part.

Why Do I Need an Indianapolis Wrongful Death Attorney?

While your family is grieving and making funeral arrangements, an experienced Indiana wrongful death lawyer can file a lawsuit on your behalf seeking financial compensation.  In the days, weeks and months after suffering a catastrophic loss, the last thing survivors need is to try to navigate a complicated legal system on their own.  A trusted and trained Indianapolis wrongful death attorney can file documents, gather evidence, take depositions and secure an expert witness, if needed, on your behalf.  You don’t have to go it alone.  Please call the attorneys at McNeely Stephenson at (317) 825-5110 for a free initial consultation about your situation.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Indiana?

Generally, only certain family members can sue on behalf of the person who suffered the wrongful death, meaning parents or legal guardians, spouses, and children, including adopted children. Both parents must file in the case of a child’s death if they are still married. If the parents are divorced, the parent with custody files. If that parent is deceased, a personal representative will be appointed to pursue the wrongful death case.  A wrongful death attorney can explain this in greater detail.

In Indiana, technically, it is the personal representative of the deceased’s estate who files the wrongful death suit; the family members become the estate’s beneficiaries and collect with the court. They will make the decision on how to split the proceeds of the damages among them should the case be won.

What Types of Damages Can Be Sought in a Wrongful Death Case?

Typically, you can sue for economic damages, such as:

  • Medical expenses, including hospital and other facility costs
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Lost wages, along with any benefits the deceased likely would have received or earned, such as a pension
  • The costs of bringing the wrongful death suit, including attorney’s fees that are considered reasonable.

You are usually not allowed to sue for emotional distress, pain and suffering, or similar non-economic damages. However, you can ask for compensation for the loss of love and companionship.

If the adult who died was unmarried with no dependents, damages are capped at $300,000. This is the only damages cap mentioned in the laws.

If a child died, you can sue for the following damages:

  • Medical expenses, including hospital and other facility costs
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Reasonable expenses involved for psychological counseling for the family
  • The loss of your child’s services
  • The loss of your child’s love and companionship
  • Any uninsured debts incurred by the child, including any debts which the parent has an obligation to pay on behalf of the child
  • The costs of administering the child’s estate, including reasonable legal fees.

Punitive damages are not allowed in Indiana

If you have lost a loved one, contact the Indiana wrongful death lawyers at McNeely Stephenson at (317) 825-5110 for a free initial consultation about your situation. We provide compassionate support and legal experience to grieving families.

What is the Statute of Limitations in Indiana Wrongful Death Cases?

For wrongful death, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the death. However, depending on whether the death resulted from a defective product, or some other cause, the time might be calculated from the date of the act which led to the death or the date of the death itself.

How Will Your Attorneys Represent Me and My Family?

Our investigative team goes to work immediately to uncover the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘when,’ ‘where,’ ‘why’ and ‘how’ of a wrongful death. We are committed to bringing together the most qualified experts available (regardless 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.

Holding the responsible party accountable will not bring closure, but financial resolution can help secure the hopes and aspirations your loved one had for the family. Although it may be difficult to discuss legal and financial issues while you are grieving, you owe it to yourself and the memory of your loved one to have a capable attorney on your side as you face an uncertain future. Attorney Mike Stephenson at (317) 825-5110 is committed to doing whatever is necessary to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.

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 wrongful death attorneys are willing to go the distance, and our firm possesses the financial resources to work successfully on behalf of your family.

Have You Helped Others Like Me?

We are grateful to have worked on behalf of the following families and value the trust they place in our hands.

  • “If you’re searching for an attorney with integrity and true compassion, which often times seems to be a difficult task, then I recommend Michael Stephenson of McNeely Stephenson. This man represented me in a case involving my wife’s death and I can tell you with confidence that he is the real deal. It’s nice to meet an attorney possessing a heart and a conscience especially when the country is running over with ambulance chasing lawyers looking to make a buck at any cost. God bless you Mike. (And no, I’m not getting paid to post this)” – J.W.
  • Attorney Mike Stephenson was hired by the Estate of “D.P.” to pursue a medical malpractice claim against Community Hospital in Indianapolis, as well as a claim against a surgeon who failed to timely identify a small bowel obstruction. The matter went to trial, and a jury returned a verdict in favor of the estate for $8.5 million.
    Read Full Case Summary
  • “C.G.” was working at an expansion construction site in Indianapolis, Indiana, for a Kroger store. Proper safety measures were not taken to ensure that the electricity was turned off. He received a shock from a live wire while he was on the ladder and fell to his death. After protracted litigation and appeals through both the state and federal courts, the estate was able to obtain a confidential settlement.
    Read Full Case Summary
  • McNeely Stephenson was hired by another attorney to assist in pursuing a case against Michelin on behalf of four children who lost both parents and three siblings when the vehicle that they were riding in rolled over. The case had been in litigation for more than two years when Stephenson became involved and, in less than nine months after he joined in, the case was brought to a conclusion for a confidential sum payable to the guardian of the estate for the benefit of the four surviving children.
    Read Full Case Summary
  • P. was a four-year-old boy who went in for a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy. Three days after the surgery, J.P. was throwing up blood late in the afternoon.After seeking medical attention several times, an ambulance was called and J.P. was taken to the hospital. He had such a small volume of blood in his system that starting an IV was virtually impossible.  J.P. died from loss of blood. Amazingly, the medical review panel determined that there was a question of fact as to the child’s condition and did not render an opinion on the issue of liability. Within 30 days of trial, the case was settled for a confidential sum.
    Read J.P.’s Full Story.
  • “A.M.” was 14 years old when she was riding as a front-seat passenger in an Isuzu Rodeo being driven by her best friend. The vehicle had been recently purchased by her friend’s father. The friends were involved in a tragic accident as the SUV was traveling down an interstate in Nevada. Mike Stephenson was hired to assist the plaintiff’s attorney; after two years of litigation, a confidential settlement was obtained at mediation, payable to A.M.’s parents.
    Full Case Summary

What Are the Wrongful Death Laws In Indiana?

In Indiana, we have three legal statutes that define and set the parameters of wrongful death cases:

  • The Wrongful Death Act (General Wrongful Death Statute): Indiana Code 34-23-1-1. This Act covers those adults who suffer a wrongful death and leave behind spouses and dependents.
  • The Adult Wrongful Death Act: Indiana Code 34-23-1-2. This Act covers unmarried adults who experience a wrongful death and leave no dependents.
  • The Child Wrongful Death Act: Indiana Code 34-23-2-1. This Act legally defines a child for the purposes of a wrongful death case and sets out the damages for which the parent or guardian can sue.

The statutes spell out certain conditions under which a wrongful death case can be brought and also provide legal definitions. For example, a child is an unmarried adult with no dependents who is either under the age of 20 or under the age of 23 and attending some form of education past the high school level. In Indiana, a child can also be a fetus able to live outside the mother’s body (has attained viability).

Compassionate Indianapolis Wrongful Death Lawyers

Wrongful death attorneyThe wrongful death lawyers at McNeely Stephenson bring the full weight of our 30+ years of experience and substantial financial resources to bear on each case we handle. If someone’s negligent or reckless actions have caused the death of a family member, it is your right to seek financial compensation. It is critical to have a knowledgeable and trustworthy legal professional representing you. Indiana wrongful death attorney Mike Stephenson has represented the survivors of wrongful death victims due to vehicle accidentsworkplace hazards, dangerous consumer products, and other causes of death.  Talk to Mike now at (317) 825-5110 for a free initial consultation about your case.

real-life cases

“B.K.” was driving on a two-lane road one Sunday afternoon with his mother in the front seat and his brother and sister-in-law in the back seat when his life was forever changed. B.K. was struck head on by D.C.

D.C. had spent the day drinking with a friend and had stopped at a restaurant less than five miles from the point of the accident where D.C. had been served several drinks. D.C.’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

As a result of the terrible wreck, B.K. received devastating injuries, which included multiple broken bones, facial fractures, and loss of vision. B.K.’s mother, brother, and sister-in-law were all killed in the accident.

As one would anticipate, D.C. had virtually no insurance. Stephenson, through his thorough and detailed investigation, was able to prepare claims against the restaurant and those that provided the alcohol.

Stephenson pursued dram shop claims against those responsible CASE SUMMARY

D.H. was a competitive bicyclist who was riding in preparation for a cross-country fundraising ride. In the spring of 2010, D.H. was riding across an old steel-grated deck bridge in Shelby County when he hit a hole in the bridge and flipped over the handlebars of his bike. The impact to the bridge decking caused severe injuries to his face, teeth, tongue, and elbow.

Through the investigation, they were able to learn as early as 1998, the bridge inspection reports showed the bridge in question needed to be replaced. The county never authorized additional inspections. The county obtained $844,000 in funding for the replacement of the bridge in 2000, but the Historical Society and adjacent property owners wanted the bridge repaired rather than replaced.

This crash could have been avoided if the inspectors and county had done their jobs. CASE SUMMARY

Our client (“D.W.”) was a front-seat passenger in a vehicle that was struck by a UDF truck making deliveries. D.W. received broken arms and legs, as well as internal injuries. Stephenson was retained by D.W.’s personal counsel to prepare and try the case. Discovery determined that the UDF driver had multiple driving violations. Stephenson retained numerous experts to show the jury the devastating effects of the injuries. Before trial, the defendant’s company stated that a jury in a small southern county in Indiana would never return a verdict for $1 million in this case.

The defendant was correct; the verdict was twice that amount. CASE SUMMARY

Hand the worry over to us and let our resources back you up.

Mike Stephenson is a Martindale-Hubbell AV-rated attorney, the highest possible attorney peer rating. When you call Mike, you can have complete confidence — you are talking with an attorney who has more than 30 years’ experience offering compassionate and successful representation for his clients.

What is your next step? Contact Mike today using our contact form, or call 1-317-825-5200.

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Mike Stephenson is a Super Lawyer in Indiana along with many of his peers at McNeely Stephenson. This is one of the highest honors an attorney can achieve


The AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale Hubbell is the HIGHEST RATING and considered a significant accomplishment. It is a peer-reviewed process reflecting that other attorneys rank Mike Stephenson at the highest possible level of professional excellence.


Attorney Mike Stephenson is a proud member of The Litigation Counsel of America’s Honorary Society. A close-knit, peer-selected, and aggressively diverse honorary society of 3,500 of the “best trial lawyers” in the country. Less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers, vigorously vetted for skills, expertise, and service; an invitation-only collegial network.


The American Board of Trial Advocates is an invitation-only organization for attorneys of “high personal character and honorable reputation.” ABOTA works for the preservation of the civil jury trial, “Justice by the People,” and supports the right of a jury trial.


The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers. Membership is extended only to the select few of the most qualified attorneys. Indiana attorney Mike Stephenson is proud to be included in this national organization of top trial lawyers.


Our attorneys are proven advocates and trial attorneys. They have served as lead trial counsel in more than 100 civil jury trials, and have handled litigation in 18 states