Many people may not realize that wrongful death is a leading cause of death in the United States. These fatalities occur for completely preventable reasons due to another person’s negligence. Medical malpractice or medical error is the cause of almost 10% of deaths nationwide, making it the third-leading cause of death in the US. Fatal car accidents also often occur due to the negligence of drivers involved in a crash, whether it’s speeding, driving under the influence, running a red light or stop sign, or other forms of failing to care.
No state in the US is immune to these tragedies, and that includes Indiana. But it can also be challenging for the survivors to understand when a death from an accident can be filed as wrongful death or something else under Indiana law. Here are some examples of recent wrongful deaths in Indiana.
Indiana Wrongful Death in Car or Semi Accidents
When a loved one is killed in a car accident, the loss is always challenging to cope with. When the negligence or criminal activity of the other driver is the cause, it is possible they can be held both criminally and civilly responsible under Indiana law. In recent Indiana semi crash cases, the responsible drivers are facing both criminal and civil penalties.
- In July 2020 a semi driver failed to slow down for a construction zone and pushed a passenger car into the rear of another semi. This resulted in the wrongful death of 4 children that were passengers in the car. The semi driver was later found to be under the influence of multiple drugs and faces at least seven felony charges.
- In January 2020 a semi driver looked away from the road to set down his coffee cup. This resulted in a collision with at least eight passenger vehicles, causing three deaths and 14 injuries. The driver was charged with reckless homicide. He had previously been fired by another trucking fleet for speeding, following too close in a truck, and damaging equipment. This means his employer at the time of the crash could also be held responsible for its driver’s actions.
Indiana Wrongful Death Due to Medical Malpractice
You never expect a loved one to receive bad treatment when they are in need of medical care. But when a medical practitioner is negligent in their diagnosis or response time, the results are often fatal for patients in need.
- In 2000, a mother and her infant son both wrongfully died due to medical negligence. Though it was known that the mother had preeclampsia she was allowed to go to the bathroom unsupervised and she collapsed. Because she was not discovered in time for treatment, she passed away. Her son also died after being delivered by c-section.
- In 2015, a doctor who was also a paraplegic was misdiagnosed after a car accident caused a fracture in his neck. His x-rays were misread and he was released from the hospital too early. After a second x-ray revealed the fracture he went through neurosurgery but still died of complications related to the negligent medical care.
Indiana Wrongful Death Due to Nursing Home Negligence
Nursing home neglect can be the equivalent of medical negligence but can also include other forms of negligence. When this failure to care results in the death of a resident, their family is entitled to answers and to pursue damages under Indiana law.
- In 2018 an Indiana nursing home resident suffered a serious head injury in her second fall as a resident. Though she was a known fall risk the nursing home did not develop a plan to address the risk or supervise her. Her family alleged these incidents were part of a greater pattern of abuse and neglect by the nursing home.
- In 2020 The Indianapolis Star maintains ongoing documentation of many stories of wrongful death resulting from nursing homes, including residents who were not properly monitored, who were allowed to develop infected bedsores, who were not provided adequate food and hydration, not properly monitored for conditions like pneumonia, and many other allegations of neglect in Indiana nursing homes.
- Though any COVID-19 wrongful death cases filed in Indiana haven’t made headlines just yet, over two-thirds of our state’s coronavirus fatalities have been in nursing homes as of August 2020. Allegations that the state has underreported Indiana COVID-19 nursing home deaths may contribute to these claims if and when they are filed.
Indiana Wrongful Death Claim by Parents
Parents are permitted to sue for damages over the loss of a child under Indiana law. Though the reasons for these cases are varied, the loss suffered by parents is always devastating and their story deserves to be heard.
- In 2019 a father filed suit against the mother of his two-year-old son after the boy was brutally beaten to death by the mother and her boyfriend in 2017. This wrongful death suit against the child abusers was filed after the mother and her boyfriend had been convicted of criminal charges in the case.
- In 2018 a driver illegally passed a school bus and struck four children who were waiting at the bus stop. Three were killed and one sustained serious injuries. The driver was convicted of criminal homicide and recklessness, in addition to any civil charges that may be brought against her by the families.
Indiana Wrongful Death Due to Consumer Products
When a consumer trusts a product and that trust leads to a wrongful death, the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer may deserve to be held responsible. This could include a medical product defect or a prescription manufacturing defect, defective industrial equipment that causes wrongful death, or consumer products like e-cigarettes, household appliances, and more.
- In 2019 Indiana led the nation in vaping deaths from e-cigarette related lung injury, also called EVALI. The family of these individuals might have a right to recover wrongful death damages under Indiana law.
- In 2020 the medication ranitidine was officially linked to many kinds of cancer. As such, products like Zantac were required to be pulled from the shelves, but many families may already have experienced the wrongful death caused by Zantac or other heartburn products.
Indiana Wrongful Death at Railroad Crossings
In 2019 Indiana was #4 in the nation for railroad crossing collisions, deaths, and injuries. There were 120 collisions, 11 deaths, and 44 injuries in these incidents. The consequences of these serious train fatalities are devastating for families and loved ones, especially when the incidents were preventable due to lighting, signage, or more adequate division of the railway from the road.
Indiana Department of Transportation maintains that it is the responsibility of each community to install warning devices at crossings. Federal funding for automatic arms and other devices is only available for some crossings deemed the most hazardous. For families, this often means the need for a wrongful death attorney to help unpack the complexities of each unique case.
- In June 2020 a utilities truck driver died after colliding the vehicle with a train. Accident reconstructionists worked to determine if the railroad crossing lights were functioning as the train approached and noted there was not a gate at the crossing to stop traffic. In the event the lights were not working, the estate of the victim could have a case against the railroad.
- In December 2019 two different vehicles collided with the same train at two different crossings in Hendricks County, leading to one death and one injury. Both railroad crossings had lights but not gates to stop traffic.
These stories represent just some of the life-altering losses that can result from someone’s negligence. Every case is different and deserves the full attention of an attorney to help hold negligent parties accountable and relieve the financial burden of a wrongful death. While no compensation can restore the lives that are lost, these cases are essential to the long-term well-being and livelihood of those who depend on and love the victims. Please contact the attorneys at Christie Farrell Lee & Bell if you have questions about a wrongful death case and schedule a free consultation with some of the top-rated injury attorneys in Indiana.