If a loved one passes away, it is one of the most heartbreaking and tragic moments of your life. If their death is unexpected and occurs due to the negligence of another party, it can make the death even harder to understand.
While a lawsuit cannot bring back a loved one, it might provide a sense of justice and much-needed compensation. An experienced lawyer could help you better understand the common misconceptions when it comes to wrongful death cases.
Only Family Members Can File a Wrongful Death Case Under State Law
This is a common misconception among individuals seeking compensation for a wrongful death. Under state law, the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate is actually the person required to file the wrongful death lawsuit when the deceased person is an adult, according to Indiana Code § 34-23-1-1.
Typically, the personal representative of a deceased’s estate is a family member, such as the individual’s surviving spouse, an adult child, a parent, or a sibling; however, this is not always the case. Determining who is permitted to file a wrongful death case under state law can be more complex than many people realize, so it could be helpful to seek out a seasoned attorney before filing a claim.
Wrongful Death Claims Only Apply to Medical Malpractice
It is true that negligence by a medical care provider resulting in death could be the basis of a civil claim, but this is not the only situation in which an individual might pass away due to another party’s negligence. Other common examples of situations that might result in someone’s untimely passing include motor vehicle accidents, defective products, and dangerous drugs.
Negligent Death Actions Can be Filed at any Time
Unfortunately, this is not true because state law includes statutes of limitation, which is the time limit to file a wrongful death claim. Generally, a lawsuit stemming from someone’s untimely passing must be filed within two years of the date an individual passed away. A well-versed attorney could help ensure that a case meets the required deadlines so that family members do not miss the opportunity to seek compensation for their loss.
Medical and Funeral Expenses are the Only Damages Available in a Negligent Death Claim
The compensation available to the parties for whom the lawsuit is filed does include medical and funeral expenses. However, there are several additional damages that might be recoverable in a wrongful death case, including:
- Lost income from the deceased individual
- Lost benefits, such as medical, dental, and vision insurance, from the deceased individual
- Loss of companionship, parental guidance, and affection
- Loss of household services
- Mental anguish
- Attorney’s fees
Additional damages might be recoverable in cases involving the death of a child, including counseling for the surviving family members. A proficient wrongful family death lawyer could evaluate a claim to determine the potential recovery in a lawsuit.
Punitive Damages may be Available to Further Punish Responsible Parties
Punitive damages are a form of damages that are intended to punish the at-fault parties for especially reckless behavior and prevent such behavior from occurring in the future. Unfortunately, state law does not permit the recovery of punitive damages in wrongful death lawsuits.
Call a Wrongful Death Attorney for Help Today
Losing a loved one in an accident can be devastating and leave you unsure how to move forward. A knowledgeable lawyer could help answer any questions you may have, including the many common misconceptions associated with wrongful death cases. Schedule your consultation today.