Nothing can prepare you for the sudden loss of a loved one. Wrongful death attorney Randall “Randy” Sevenish of Sevenish Law Firm learned this with the sudden loss of his inseparable younger brother, Ralph, while he was stationed in California while on active duty with the United States Air Force.
In addition to emotional devastation, you and your family may also face overwhelming pressure brought on by medical bills, funeral expenses, and the loss of your loved one’s financial support. This is a chaotic, challenging, and confusing time for the surviving family. Serious legal mistakes can be made during this time of tragedy.
You do not have to face these challenges alone. The Sevenish Law Firm can help. If another person’s negligent or otherwise wrongful conduct caused the death, we can pursue a wrongful death claim on your behalf. While you focus on getting through this difficult time in your life, we will focus on seeking answers about your loved one’s death and the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today to learn more. We can provide a free consultation and share the insights we have gained through over three decades of helping the families of wrongful death victims throughout Indianapolis and the state of Indiana.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Action in Indiana?
Under Indiana law, the ability to bring a wrongful death claim generally will depend on whether the victim was an adult or child.
If the victim was an adult, the claim must be brought by a “personal representative.” This is a person who stands in the place of the victim’s estate and his or her surviving beneficiaries or heirs, including:
- Dependent children
- Dependent next of kin
If the victim was a child, meaning a viable fetus or an unmarried person without dependents who is either under age 20 or under age 23 and still in school—a claim is not brought by a personal representative. Instead, the claim may be brought by a parent or guardian. The eligibility to bring a claim will depend on the parent’s marital status and the child’s custody status at the time of death:
- If a married parent. The parent can bring a claim jointly with the other parent or individually; however, if only one parent brings the claim, the other parent must be joined in the lawsuit.
- If an unmarried parent. The custodial parent may bring a claim, and the non-custodial parent does not have to join the other parent. A non-custodial parent may bring a claim, too. However, the custodial parent must be joined.
- If the child has a guardian. The right to bring a claim lies with the legally appointed guardian.
If a party is not joined in a wrongful death lawsuit, it can result in the case being dismissed. So, it is important to work with an attorney who will pay attention to this issue and all other details when preparing your case.
What Can Be Recovered in an Indiana Wrongful Death Claim?
The damage that can be recovered in a wrongful death claim will depend on your status as a child, parent, or guardian and, again, on whether the victim was an adult or child.
Generally speaking, if the victim was an adult or a child, the damages that can be sought include those that benefit the victim’s estate:
- Medical and hospital expenses
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The costs of bringing the wrongful death action.
If you are a surviving spouse, dependent child, or next of kin, you may additionally seek to recover for the loss of the victim’s earnings and financial support.
A surviving spouse may also seek to recover for loss of consortium, or the loss of the services, love, care, and affection that the deceased spouse provided. A surviving child, on the other hand, could seek recovery for the loss of a parent’s love, care, affection, and the guidance that he or she would have provided.
If the victim was a child, then a parent or guardian bringing a wrongful death claim could seek to recover for the loss of all medical, funeral, and administrative expenses as well as for:
- Loss of the child’s services (this may be relevant if the child helped in a family business or farm operation)
- Loss of the child’s love and companionship.
Compensation may also be sought for the costs of mental health counseling that a surviving parent or sibling of the child may require.
These are damages that are intended to punish or deter malicious conduct. Punitive damages cannot be sought in a wrongful death claim under Indiana law.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Indiana?
Generally speaking, a person pursuing a wrongful death claim in Indiana has two years from the date of the death to either settle the case or file a lawsuit. This is called the statute of limitations.
However, if the case involves alleged medical malpractice, the statute of limitations requires a claim to be filed within two years from the date when the alleged medical malpractice occurred—not the date of death.
It is important for your attorney to pay close attention to the statute of limitations that applies in your case.
At Sevenish Law Firm, we believe that a family should contact an attorney as soon as they are ready to take action after the death of a loved one. It is crucial to avoid undue delay.
A wrongful death case typically requires extensive investigation and consultation with experts. Additionally, research must be made into all applicable insurance policies that are involved. An attorney will need a proper amount of time to perform this work within the statute of limitations period.
Contact an Indiana Wrongful Death Attorney
Sevenish Law Firm understands that no amount of money will replace a loved one in your life. Our goal is simply to help you find out why your loved one’s death occurred and to establish accountability for the death. We also want to make sure that you obtain the compensation you are entitled by law to receive. These funds can help you to move on in life.
To learn more about our experience and how we can represent you with the integrity, honor and discipline you deserve, please contact us today by phone or through our online form. Our consultations are always free. We charge no attorney fees unless you recover compensation.