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?

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.

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.

Some of the expenses that may be covered for the estate and/or immediate survivors are:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical and hospital expenses
  • Lost wages and benefits from the deceased’s employment
  • Legal fees and costs of the case

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.