Learning that a loved one lost their life because of another person’s reckless, careless, or intentionally malicious behavior is a traumatic and life-altering ordeal unlike any other. Between your own grief and the complexity of handling your family member’s affairs after their premature death, it may understandably seem like adding civil litigation to your plate could make this situation completely overwhelming.
While financial recovery cannot erase the loss you have experienced completely, working with a Gary wrongful death lawyer to pursue fair compensation for damages related to that loss can be key to preserving your and your family’s best interests. During a confidential consultation, a compassionate personal injury attorney in Gary could discuss your options with you and offer guidance about potential next steps, so you can pursue the solution that best protects your family’s financial security and their emotional wellbeing.
What Constitutes “Wrongful Death” in Gary?
Referring to civil claims based on someone’s premature passing as “wrongful death” claims is a bit misleading, since it implies that these claims follow substantially different rules than those applicable to typical personal injury cases. In truth, a wrongful death claim can proceed in just about any situation where a personal injury claim would have been possible had the person directly impacted by the defendant’s actions survived the incident those actions caused.
Additionally, wrongful death litigation can be based on a criminal act that directly resulted in a person’s death and proceed before, after, or even during related criminal proceedings. As a Gary attorney could explain, wrongful death civil and criminal cases would move forward completely separately from each other, and the outcome of one would have no official bearing on the outcome of the other. That said, the lower standard of proof that civil plaintiffs must meet compared to criminal prosecutors often means in practice that convictions in criminal courts can support a finding of liability in a related civil claim.
Filing a Claim After a Loved One’s Untimely Passing
Under Indiana state law, only certain people can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of someone who lost their life through someone else’s negligence or wrongful act. If the decedent was an adult, this right belongs exclusively to the personal representative or “executor” for the decedent’s estate.
If the decedent was a child, meaning someone under 20 years old with no dependents or spouse, under 23 years old with no dependents and spouse and enrolled in higher education or an equivalent technical program, or a viable fetus, the decedent’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s) may pursue a wrongful death claim. Regardless of the decedent’s age or who actually files this type of case, the applicable filing deadline is two years after the decedent’s date of death.
What Damages Could the Surviving Family Recover?
The delineation between adult and child decedents under state law when it comes to wrongful death litigation also impacts what damages may be recoverable through such a claim. A decedent’s surviving spouse and/or children may recover for medical expenses related to care the decedent received before passing away, funeral and burial costs, lost future earnings from the decedent, lost love and affection, and lost guidance and care.
If the decedent was unmarried with no dependents, their surviving parent(s) and nondependent children may recover up to $300,000 for lost love and companionship, and their estate may recover for the full value of reasonable medical expenses as well as funeral and burial costs. Whatever remains of damages recovered by the estate after paying for the aforementioned services will go to the decedent’s surviving parent(s) and/or nondependent children.
Finally, the parent(s) or guardian(s) of a decedent child may recover for lost services, lost love and companionship, expenses for the child’s medical care and/or estate administration, and reasonable counseling costs. A wrongful death lawyer in Gary could provide more specific information about what damages might be available in a particular situation.
Call a Gary Wrongful Death Attorney for Help
There is no legal proceeding or amount of financial compensation that could ever erase the pain caused by a family member passing away before their time. The purpose of wrongful death litigation is not to even attempt to do so, but rather to ensure that you and your loved ones do not bear additional financial strain on top of the emotional pain you are going through.
Discussing your options with a Gary wrongful death lawyer could help you decide what the best course of action might be for your family’s situation. Call today to schedule a meeting.