$5 million settlement

We recently won a $5 million settlement for a wrongful death & injury case to survivor due to car crash.

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 our wrongful death lawyer is here to help them.

Our attorneys 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 Indianapolis wrongful death lawyers at Stephenson Rife in Indianapolis at 317-680-2501. You don’t have to endure this alone. And our personal injury attorneys will help you seek the compensation you deserve for your loss.

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What Does “Wrongful Death” Mean

Wrongful death is a legal term that means an innocent person’s death was caused by the negligence or wrongful actions of another party. Wrongful death claims are unlike traditional personal injury claims. 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 for Wrongful Death

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.

“Almost New” 8 Year-Old Tire Leads to a Wrongful Death

Example Case

A tire failure on a Ford Bronco caused a driver on a two-lane state road to lose control of his vehicle. He crossed the center of the road and struck a motorcycle resulting in the death of both people on the bike, “J.M.” and his wife.

Attorney Mike Stephenson was hired to examine the wreck and the tire. Initially, lawyers told the family that the tire’s age would make it too difficult to successfully pursue a wrongful death claim against the tire manufacturer. However, Mike proved that assessment to be incorrect with thorough research and use of national experts. Mike and his experts visited the tire manufacturer, did close analysis of the defective tire involved in the accident and obtained factory specifications for the manufacture of the tire. This effort resulted in evidence the tire was not manufactured with the standards established by the tire maker.

Mike compiled his research into a state-of-the-art visual presentation, including highly specialized computer animation.This technology demonstrated clearly the magnitude of defects in the tire. It also demonstrated that it would be easy to show a jury the reason for the tire failure. As a result of the computer animation, the tire manufacture offered a wrongful death settlement.


Why Do I Need an Indianapolis Wrongful Death Attorney?

While your family is grieving and making funeral arrangements, an experienced Indianapolis 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 Stephenson Rife at 317-680-2501 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 from the court. They will make the decision on how to split the proceeds of the damages among them should the case be won.

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.

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 in a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • 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 Stephenson Rife at 317-680-2501 for a free initial consultation about your situation. We provide compassionate support and legal experience to grieving families.

How Will Your Wrongful Death Attorneys Represent 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 personal injury attorney on your side as you face an uncertain future. Attorney Mike Stephenson 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. Call us at 317-680-2501 for a free consultation today.

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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:

  • 01

    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.

  • 02

    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.

  • 03

    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).

Indiana laws are complex, which is why it is best to work with an experienced wrongful death attorney to get the legal guidance you need. It is very difficult to deal with the aftermath of losing a loved one. Let our attorneys handle your legal representation to ensure you get the justice you deserve.

How Long Do Cases Take from Start to Finish?

The length of time it will take to resolve a wrongful death case will vary greatly, depending on the specifics of each case. The number of parties involved, the complexity of the case and the amount of money at stake could all play a role in how long it takes to resolve a wrongful death claim.

Some claims can be resolved in months, while others might take years. After hearing the details of your loved one’s passing, an attorney might be able to give you a better estimate regarding the time frame of your case. However, the duration of a claim is often beyond an attorney’s control. At Stephenson Rife, we understand how important these claims are for our clients. We make sure to file all the paperwork in a timely manner, and we do our part to make sure there aren’t unreasonable delays in the process.

Is Your Loved One’s Passing a Wrongful Death Case?

You might not be sure whether your loved one’s passing warrants legal action. If their passing was someone else’s fault, even if it was unintentional, you should consider exploring all of your legal options. Negligence is one of the most important factors in these claims, and you can find out whether you might have a case by speaking directly with an experienced wrongful death attorney.

An Indianapolis wrongful death lawyer at Stephenson Rife can meet with you and your loved ones to give you a free case evaluation. We will review the specifics of your case and provide you with our initial assessment of your claim.

Understanding Wrongful Death Claims in Indiana


A wrongful death is a preventable death that occurs because a person, business or other entity acted irresponsibly or recklessly. To learn more, view our full infographic.

You Need an Attorney Who Has Experience with Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful death claims are unlike other case types.

There are several laws governing who can file a claim and how much they can demand in payment. The stakes are often higher in wrongful death claims; loved ones sometimes need payment to protect them from financial ruin, particularly if the deceased was one of the primary earners in a household.

With so much on the line, it’s in surviving family members’ best interests to hire an attorney who has experience with these types of cases. At Stephenson Rife, we’ve built our reputation on the dedicated legal service and the results we have achieved on behalf of grieving families. We encourage you to read our clients’ testimonials and our past verdicts and settlements to get a better idea of our wrongful death lawyers’ track record. As well as visiting our settlement FAQ page.

If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with our team, we would love the opportunity to hear more about your case, so we can help you explore your legal options. Don’t accept legal advice from an attorney who knows nothing about your situation. We encourage you to reach out to us today, so we can assess your needs. Simply scheduling a case assessment does not mean the establishment an attorney-client relationship, and you will incur no fee for talking to us. If you don’t want to proceed with a claim, you are under no obligation to do so.

We know this is a difficult time for you and your loved ones. Contact the experienced Indianapolis wrongful death attorneys at Stephenson Rife today by calling 317-680-2501 or filling out our online contact form.

Car crash

Car Accidents and Wrongful Death Cases

Around 35,000 people die in motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. every year. Indiana’s fatality rates are on par with national statistics. On average, nearly 800 people die every year on Indiana’s roads, based on data provided by Indiana University Public Policy Institute. For each person that dies in an Indiana vehicle accident, there are countless others affected by the loss of their loved ones.

Vehicle accidents are one of the most common reasons people file wrongful death claims. Most crashes are the result of human error. If that error is considered negligence, then the at-fault party has a responsibility to pay the victim’s family for the costs they are facing. Driver negligence includes many different types of careless or reckless behavior. You should consider your legal options if your loved one was killed by a driver who was…

  • Phone

    Distracted – Distracted driving includes any activity that takes a driver’s eyes, attention or hands off the task of operating their vehicle. Mobile devices have thrust distraction into the spotlight as a serious threat on our roads. Smartphones are a cause of many crashes, but there are also many other causes of distraction, including eating, drinking, operating car radios, smoking and taking on too many passengers.

  • Person sleeping

    Drowsy – Fatigue is another major contributor to fatal car crashes in the U.S. Missing just one to two hours of sleep can double your chances of being involved in a crash. Fatigue is particularly common among professional drivers, many of whom travel long distances for long periods without a break, increasing the likelihood of a crash.

  • Someone who is impaired

    Impaired – Around one-quarter of fatal vehicle crashes involve alcohol use. Impaired driving is not only a problem involving alcohol; drug use is also a contributing factor in many fatal crashes. Use of illegal or prescription drugs can greatly impair a driver’s performance. Even an over-the-counter drug can affect a driver’s performance if it causes drowsiness or dizziness.

  • Speedometer

    Speeding – Like drunk driving, speeding is a contributing factor in around one-fourth of all fatal vehicle crashes in the United States. Speeding might be one of the most common examples of negligent driving, but it is never justifiable. Speeding is also not simply exceeding a posted speed limit; it also includes driving too fast for the conditions of the road.

  • Car

    AggressiveSome studies suggest that nearly half of all fatal crashes involve some form of aggressive driving. Speeding is one form of aggressive driving, but there are many other types of behavior that are considered aggressive, including following another vehicle too closely, running red lights and changing lanes without using turn signals.

In some cases, a defective vehicle or faulty vehicle part can lead to vehicle deaths. If your loved one was killed because of a vehicle’s defects, you can file a wrongful death claim against the manufacturer to get the compensation you are entitled to.

You should know that it is not your responsibility to find out exactly why your loved one’s crash happened. When you hire Stephenson Rife, you can trust us to do that for you. We will investigate the crash to determine how it happened and who is at fault. We will then hold the at-fault party and their insurance company responsible for the costs you face, including funeral expenses, burial expenses, medical bills and future earnings. Contact our personal injury attorneys today by calling 317-680-2501 or filling out our online contact form. We offer free consultations.

Let Us Handle Your Case

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 Stephenson Rife. 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.
  • Wrongful death 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
  • Stephenson Rife 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

Contact Our Attorneys

Compassionate Indianapolis Wrongful Death Lawyers

Wrongful death attorneyThe wrongful death lawyers at Stephenson Rife 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. Indianapolis wrongful death attorney Mike Stephenson has represented the survivors of wrongful death victims due to vehicle accidents, workplace hazards, dangerous consumer products, and other causes of death. Talk to Mike now at 317-680-2501 for a free initial consultation about your case.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)