What's the difference between a wrongful death and survival action in Indiana?

When someone dies as a result of another person's negligence—such as in a car accident caused by a drunk, drugged or distracted driver—the surviving family members can be left grappling with feelings of intense sadness, frustration, and even anger. For individuals financially dependent on a loved one who died under such tragic circumstances, the grief they feel can be compounded by concerns about how they'll be able to provide for themselves in their loved one's absence.

justiceHowever, thanks to Indiana's wrongful death laws and survival statutes, families in this unfortunate predicament aren't without legal recourse. Indiana's Wrongful Death Act, Adult Wrongful Death Act, Child Wrongful Death Act, and related survival statutes give the victim's close family members and other select representatives the ability to seek compensation for their loved one's untimely death.

If your family member or loved one was killed in a car accident caused by another motorist's negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. Understanding when and how to bring wrongful death claims and survival actions—as well as the differences between the two—can help ensure you receive the full extent of the financial recovery to which you're entitled.

Understanding Wrongful Death Claims

Having a loved one die in a negligence-related car accident that wasn't his or her fault isn't just emotionally devastating, it can also be financially devastating. While no amount of money can replace a lost loved one, compensation obtained through a wrongful death claim can help families recover from the financial losses they incurred as a result of the death.

People who bring wrongful death claims can seek compensation for a wide range of economic damages, including:

  • Funeral fees
  • Burial or cremation expenses
  • Loss of the victim's anticipated income
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Loss of pension plans, medical coverage, or other benefits
  • Loss of goods and services the victim would have provided

Indiana's wrongful death laws also allow a victim's family to pursue a monetary award for non-economic losses, such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of the victim's care, nurturing, protection, training, guidance, and advice
  • Loss of the victim's love and companionship
  • Loss of consortium

Survival Actions in Indiana

In Indiana, survival actions differ from wrongful death claims in an important way. While wrongful death claims seek to compensate families for losses incurred after—and because of—a loved one's premature death, survival actions compensate families for damages the victim incurred before passing away.

Examples of damages commonly sought in survival actions include compensation for:

  • The victim's pain and suffering
  • Damage to the victim's vehicle
  • Medical expenses related to injuries the victim sustained in the accident
  • Wages the victim lost from the time of the accident until their death

Additionally, if the victim filed a personal injury lawsuit after the accident, Indiana's survival action statutes are what make it possible for the claim to continue even after their death.

Who Can Bring Wrongful Death Claims or Survival Actions?

The option of bringing a wrongful death claim or survival action isn't available to just anyone who knew the victim. In Indiana, this ability is limited to victims' close family members, such as their spouse, their children—including adopted children—and the surviving parents if the victim was a minor, unmarried, or didn't have children.

Do You Need Help Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim and Survival Action?

If your loved one died tragically in a car accident caused by someone else's negligence, the experienced personal injury lawyers with Sevenish Law can help you pursue the financial recovery your family deserves. Contact Sevenish Law today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case.