Every state has their own laws governing wrongful death claims. Indiana code 34-23-1 defines wrongful death as a situation in which the death of one party is caused by the omission or wrongful act of another.
Who Can File a Lawsuit Over Wrongful Death?
When the injured person has passed away, only certain family members are entitled to file a legal claim as the plaintiff in a personal injury case. The estate of the deceased person can step in to seek monetary damages and to establish liability on the part of the at-fault party whose negligence led to the death.
Is the Criminal Case the Same?
Wrongful death claims are civil claims different from criminal claims. Criminal charges might also be filed in the same case based on the same version of events. However, a civil case is the only opportunity to recover compensation. A wrongful death claim has to be filed by the person representing the deceased person’s estate in Indiana.
Damages in Wrongful Death Cases in Indiana
Damages can be awarded to other individuals such as the children, spouse or dependents of the deceased. If more than one person is able to receive damages in a wrongful death case, the court has discretion to determine how this damage award will be split up.
In the event that it was a child who passed away and the parents filed the wrongful death claim, the claim has to be filed by the parent who has legal custody of the child. If the parents are divorced, the parental rights are terminated. If both parents are deceased, then the case needs to be filed by the child’s legal guardian.
It is important to remember that Indiana also exercises a statute of limitations in wrongful death cases. This means that the interested the party must initiate a wrongful death claim no later than two years from the date of the death that occurred. The court will refuse to hear the matter if this is not filed in line with Indiana statute of limitations.