Why Does Someone File a Wrongful Death Claim?

When the death of a spouse or loved one occurs due to negligence, the pain goes much deeper. Not only was a life cut tragically short, but wrongful deaths can also leave family members to deal with the emotional and financial ramifications on their own, all because another party wasn’t exercising proper care. Wrongful death victims and their families deserve to have negligent parties held accountable for their actions.

Filing a wrongful death suit gives victims a voice, as best it can. Whether it was a negligent driver in a car crash, a doctor that improperly cared for a patient, or a manufacturer who ignored the safety of consumers, all these situations could have been avoided. While there are important financial components of any wrongful death case, it’s important to consider what these lawsuits mean to family members and friends mourning the loss of a loved one.

A sudden death can take an extreme emotional toll on the deceased person’s surviving family. Widowed spouses will never feel the hand of their partner again; children will never play with their parents in the backyard. Real people experience true and profound loss, all because of someone else’s inattention or lack of care. For this reason, the state of Indiana has what is called “loss of consortium” claims, which provide spouses a chance to recover their own damages stemming from the individuals’ passing.

Financial Burdens on Family Members

That being said, sudden death can be extremely stressful on a family’s bank account.

There are the costs of:

  • Funeral arrangements
  • Medical care
  • Loss of income

If a one-income family with children were to lose their primary source of income unexpectedly, a single life insurance payment may not be enough to cover these costs. Wrongful death suits can provide relief in the form of monetary compensation for the impacted parties.

Wrongful death lawsuits are a chance for family members and estate representatives to recover their losses related to a negligent death. Indiana has specific laws and requirements that cover these cases, but those should never stand in the way of a wrongful death victim and their family receiving support and their day in court.

Wrongful death cases are always complex and require lots of information-gathering to develop. Christie Farrell Lee & Bell is a team of Indiana attorneys that have built our practice around helping those injured by negligence regain peace of mind and move forward in life.

Accidents That Lead to Wrongful Death

Common Causes of Wrongful Death

Medical Malpractice

When we visit doctors or other medical professionals, we expect to be taken care of. While there are many talented experts in this field, it’s still extremely possible to receive less than stellar care. Medical malpractice is the result of a doctor or other healthcare provider failing to provide appropriate care. In some cases, treatment or surgery can result in additional injuries or complications that can have devastating effects.

If you or a loved one has suffered from medical malpractice, it’s important to understand that you have legal rights. While sustained injuries or conditions may not be reversible, a lawsuit can award you the money you need to fix the damages and make up for the harm and losses you have suffered. These cases can take several months to years to come to an end and knowing that you have a lawyer you can depend on is important.

We have experience working with many types of medical malpractice cases in Indiana and around the country, including:

If wrongful death is the result of medical malpractice, there are several pieces of evidence that are important to a case. First, you’ll need to establish a doctor-patient relationship. A doctor has a duty of care, and this is rarely argued in a court of law. Second, you’ll need to provide evidence that the medical professional providing care was negligent. A legal team may bring in other doctors to serve as expert witnesses, and the material evidence will have to prove that the death was caused by the doctor’s failure to provide adequate care.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

According to the National Safety Council, there were at least 40,000 deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents in 2018. The Indiana Department of Transportation reported nearly 900 Indiana motor vehicle deaths. With so many different types of vehicles on the road, wrongful death due to negligent driving can be complex.

Christie Farrell Lee & Bell have years of experience handling cases of wrongful death due to:

Product Liability

Many of the objects we take for granted every day have the potential to be defective and dangerous. When a product isn’t designed or built with safety in mind, it can lead to a wide array of injuries. Unfortunately, because of the trusting nature of consumers, it’s possible that these flawed objects could potentially lead to wrongful death. You may wonder what kind of goods could potentially cause such a catastrophic incident.

At our firm, we’ve seen product liability cases in the following industries:

  • Pharmaceutical drugs
  • Medical products
  • Motor vehicles
  • Industrial equipment
  • Consumer products

The truth is that any manufactured product may have the potential to cause death due to faulty production. When a wrongful death occurs due to one of these objects, the goal of an attorney is to prove that the party responsible for manufacturing the product was negligent.

These cases may involve multiple parties; for instance, if a forklift causes a wrongful death, this could be because it wasn’t manufactured properly, it wasn’t properly labeled with safety instructions by the retailer, or something happened in transit to damage the machine.

Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents are quite common in personal injury cases. The injuries caused by these accidents can be wide-ranging. It may be as simple as a bruise, or something more serious like a broken bone; statistics published by the National Floor Safety Institute found that the most common slip and fall and injury is a bone fracture. However, when these accidents are more serious, they can sometimes be fatal.

These accidents can occur in countless ways, both on private and public property. There may be uneven paving and sidewalks, an errant object left out, an unexpected hole, or even surfaces left slick from rain or snow. In order to pursue a court case in a wrongful death due to a slip and fall, you’ll need to demonstrate the unsafe conditions that led to the fall. This might mean photographs of the area, accounts of eyewitnesses or anyone working at the location or nearby, or a physician’s report confirming the injury following the fall caused the wrongful death.

Electrical Accidents

Most of us have experienced a small shock in our lives, whether it’s from touching a doorknob with too much static electricity or perhaps touching an outlet with a metal object. But when it comes to large-scale electrocution, severe damage can be done. In the most unfortunate of cases, these electrical injuries can cause death. When electrocution and wrongful death occur due to negligent conditions, it may be time to pursue legal action.

Though there are many ways a fatal electrical shock could occur, some of the most commonly found issues are:

  • Frayed extension cords or wires
  • Improperly installed or maintained electrical outlets
  • Poorly-maintained machinery or vehicle engines
  • Lightning in any case, but especially near trees or downed power lines
  • Appliances installed or stored close to water
  • High-voltage power lines that aren’t maintained

Fires and Explosions

Fires can be devastating disasters. They ravage our homes and destroy our belongings, forcing us to start all over again in our lives. But in severe fires and explosions, these incidents can also cause fatalities. The United States averages over 3,000 fire deaths every year, and nearly 100 of those are fire deaths in Indiana.

A wide variety of factors cause fires and explosions, including gas explosions caused by improperly installed or defective hot water heaters, stoves, gas dryers, and furnaces; maintenance or construction-related gas main explosions; workplace chemical explosions; post-collision fuel-fed automobile fires; and electrical fires caused by defective household products and appliances of all types.

Farm Accidents

Farming has long been one of the most hazardous occupations in the United States, with farming accidents leading to more than 1,300 yearly deaths. Statistics show that more than half of these fatalities are the result of tractor accidents. These accidents are tragic, and it is important for victims to understand that they do have legal rights and may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.

Like other types of accidents, farm accidents can happen for many different reasons. Some of the most common include:

  • Tractor accidents
  • Unsafe condition of farm equipment
  • Equipment malfunction
  • Poor weather and/or working conditions
  • Lack of proper equipment
  • Lack of instruction or safety training

When Is a Death Considered Wrongful?

The term “wrongful” death revolves around situations where someone passes away either due to intentional harm caused by another individual or as a result of someone else’s negligence. Wrongful death cases cover a range of scenarios, such as fatalities resulting from car accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, and workplace incidents. A good example is if a company sells a defective product that kills someone or if a driver causes a car accident that kills someone. In these instances, if the responsible person or party could have reasonably prevented the death but failed to do so, they might be held accountable in wrongful death litigation. The legal implications and compensations in these cases aim to provide justice for the loss of a loved one caused by the actions or omissions of others.

What Damages Can Be Claimed In An Indiana Wrongful Death Case?

In Indiana, initiating a wrongful death claim involves not only an understanding of the legal framework but also a compassionate approach toward the families who have experienced profound loss. Our team is aware that when a life is tragically cut short due to another’s careless behavior or misconduct, the damages sought should consider both the palpable and intangible consequences of that loss, and it’s our duty to deliver a truthful and fair evaluation.

Assessing the Full Spectrum of Damages

Each case is unique for us. However, there are certain types of damages we always consider when these unfortunate events happen:

  • Economic impacts: We meticulously calculate the economic losses associated with the wrongful death, which include not only the immediate costs such as medical bills incurred prior to death and funeral expenses but also long-term financial losses. These can include lost wages the deceased would have earned, benefits lost due to the death (such as pension or retirement savings), and other contributions to family finances.
  • Non-economic impacts: The emotional and psychological burden on the surviving family members is profound and legally recognized. We assess the loss of companionship, mental anguish, and pain and suffering that family members endure, which are significant components of the damages claimed.

What Compensation Is Available in a Wrongful Death Case?

The compensation opportunities in Indiana wrongful death cases honor the deep-seated impact of losing a family member to another’s negligence. Our team is committed to considering all potential damages, ensuring a comprehensive compensation strategy for the bereaved family.

Types of Compensation

  • All medical costs related to the final illness or injury of the deceased, as well as reasonable funeral and burial expenses.
  • Damages for the lost earnings of the deceased, projecting what they would have reasonably earned had their life not been cut short.
  • Loss of love, companionship, and guidance: Especially significant in cases involving the loss of a parent or spouse, these damages recognize the emotional and developmental impact on a family.
  • In cases of egregious negligence or intentional harm, punitive damages may be pursued to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar future conduct.
  • Legal fees and other associated costs of the case.

Our team at Christie Farrell Lee & Bell has a proven track record of securing multimillion-dollar settlements for our clients, including a notable $1,250,000 settlement for the family of a victim who died due to complications from robotic-assisted surgery.

We are dedicated to achieving the justice and compensation our clients deserve. If you or someone you know has suffered from a wrongful death, we encourage you to reach out for a free initial consultation to discuss real case results and set realistic expectations for your case.

What Is Indiana’s Statute of Limitations for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

According to Indiana Code § 34-23-1, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Indiana is two years from the date of the death. This time limit, as defined by law, is vital as it stipulates the window for launching legal proceedings for damages, and missing this window can lead to the loss of your compensation rights.

That’s why we urge you to get in touch with us immediately, so we can listen to your story, evaluate your case, and assist you in holding the accountable party responsible.

Who Can Recover Money in a Wrongful Death Claim?

In Indiana, wrongful death is defined as when “the death of one is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another.” Basically, one person’s action or inaction directly causes the death of someone’s loved one. These situations are often unexpected and always devastating for friends, family, colleagues, and others. Though many people may be emotionally and financially affected by a wrongful death, the question of who can legally recover damages from the negligent party has a relatively narrow answer.

When damages are awarded for expenses like the funeral, hospital expenses, and legal fees, these will be paid to the estate of an adult or the parent/guardian of a minor. It is then the responsibility of the estate or guardians to pay the outstanding bills with the money that was awarded. Any amount left over will be divided among the surviving spouse and any dependent children.

Unfortunately, Indiana does not allow recovery for the grief or suffering caused by a wrongful death. This is different from loss of love or companionship, as well as household services, that can be included in the claim. No two negligence cases are alike, and this is especially true when one party’s negligence results in the wrongful death of another. Christie Farrell Lee & Bell is a team of Indianapolis wrongful death attorneys that helps those permanently affected by negligence regain peace of mind and move forward in life.

Learn more about how an Indianapolis wrongful death lawyer can help you heal after loss at 317-488-5500. Your first consultation is free.

Indianapolis Office

951 N Delaware St Indianapolis, IN 46202
Phone: 317-593-9202

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