Losing a loved one is devastating, regardless of the circumstances. When your loved one dies as a result of someone else’s negligence, it can have lasting, traumatic impact on your life. You want justice for someone who can no longer speak for themselves, but you don’t know where to turn.
If you’re in Merrillville, Indiana and need discernment when exploring the legal recourse you can take, the right wrongful death lawyer can help. Wrongful death claims can prove complex, and you may need assistance in navigating through the legal system.
Whether you’re just filing an insurance claim or are ready to file a lawsuit, a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney in Merrillville can make all the difference.
What is wrongful death?
The Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School defines a wrongful death case as a civil claim made by family members or dependents against a negligent individual who causes the death of a loved one. These claims can follow filed criminal charges, or arise independently of determined criminal action.
Insurance companies can determine liability of their insured parties, or the case may become a lawsuit and go to court. If a wrongful death case ends up in court, a judge and jury will make the determination on damages owed to a lawsuit’s plaintiff.
Even if your claim is in the hands of an insurance company, it may prove beneficial to contact an attorney to help you understand the offer made by the insurer of the at-fault party. Once you’ve accepted an offer, your legal options for further compensation are over.
Common causes of wrongful death in Merrillville
The causes of wrongful death in Merrillville and elsewhere can vary. However, there are common causes that crop up often in wrongful death claims. Some of the most common causes of wrongful death include:
- Car Accidents:
If your loved one perishes because of an impaired or reckless driver, this could fall under the “wrongful death” category. For example, a heavily intoxicated person who stumbles out of a bar and then drives could be held liable and be determined to have practiced willful negligence.
In some cases, the bar that served a person beyond intoxication and allowed them to drive may be liable, too. According to Indiana’s dram shop laws, bars and other establishments that sell and serve alcoholic beverages can be held legally liable if their negligence leads to a fatal drunk driving accident.
- Medical Malpractice:
If an avoidable medical error causes the death of your loved one, the responsible parties may be found liable in a wrongful death claim.
For example, after a surgical procedure, if a doctor leaves a medical sponge in your loved one (who then dies of sepsis), the doctor, his supervisor, and the hospital might hold legal responsibility.
- Product Defect:
Product manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers may be found liable for a wrongful death if their products malfunction.
For example, if a piece of workout equipment is sold as a “safe” product, but then explodes and kills someone, the product defect may have led to a wrongful death.
If an employer fails to provide a safe work environment and an employee dies on the worksite, this could be considered wrongful death.
For instance, if a factory has received multiple warnings to repair a piece of equipment, fails to do so, and an employee dies while working with the equipment, the employer could be held responsible in a wrongful death case.
- Drug Overdose:
If a loved one dies from a drug overdose and the person who supplied them with the drugs is identified, the drug supplier could be found liable in a wrongful death case.
For instance, a drug dealer who knowingly laces marijuana with fentanyl may be determined to have practiced willful negligence.
What is a wrongful death lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is filed when terms with the insurance company cannot be agreed upon. People who can file a wrongful death lawsuit include family members and those who were legally dependent on the deceased.
If the deceased has a spouse, their spouse will be the first with the ability to file a claim. Blood relatives may also have a right to file a wrongful death claim, but this is dependent on their direct relationship to the deceased.
What is the difference between a wrongful death and an accidental death in Merrillville?
Both wrongful deaths and accidental deaths can result from unexpected situations. However, there are distinct differences between the two.
An accidental death means that there’s no one with determined fault or liability. A wrongful death could be the consequence of an accident but implies that a specific party holds negligence and fault in the incident.
How a Merrillville wrongful death lawyer can help
If you’ve lost a loved one due to the negligence of another party in Merrillville, the right wrongful death lawyer can help you fight for the justice you deserve. A Merrillville wrongful death lawyer can help with the following:
- Collection of Evidence:
A lawyer can ensure that any physical and legal evidence to strengthen your wrongful death case is presented to the insurance companies and to the courts.
- Expert Witness Testimony:
A lawyer may be able to research, contact, and attain experts in law enforcement, medicine, and other professional fields to testify to the negligence of the at-fault party.
- Present Documentation:
Any costs you’ve incurred due to the death of your loved one (including medical and funeral expenses) can be documented and may work to bolster your case.
In order to reach a settlement with the insurance companies or at-fault parties, there will most likely be a number of negotiation meetings in your wrongful death case. A lawyer can represent you in these proceedings, and ensure you agree to the best offer.
- Fight for you in court:
If you choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit and your case doesn’t reach an agreed settlement, the right wrongful death lawyer in Merrillville, IN, will fight for you in court.
What are the damages for wrongful death?
Some of the damages you may be able to claim in a wrongful death case include:
- Pain and Suffering:
Pain and suffering damages cover the emotional, mental, and physical anguish you’ve experienced as a result of your loved one’s wrongful death.
Punitive damages are awarded at the discretion of a judge and jury, but are not requested in a lawsuit. If the legal system determines that the at-fault party should receive punishing damages, they may tack punitive damages onto your settlement.
- Loss of Financial Support:
If your deceased loved one contributed to your household income, you’ve lost significant financial support. The at-fault party should be held liable for these costs.
- Loss of Emotional Support:
The tragedy of a loved one’s unnecessary death can leave a gaping emotional hole in your heart. If this was the person you turned to for emotional help, you can claim loss of emotional support.
- Emotional Distress:
Professional psychiatric help as a result of your loved one’s wrongful death documentation of your treatment, along with testimony on your emotional and mental state in the tragic aftermath, can be claimed as emotional distress.
Contact Yosha Law
At Yosha Law, we care deeply for our clients who have suffered the unimaginable. We understand how stressful it can prove to contend with insurance companies as you’re mourning the loss of your loved one. Our Merrillville wrongful death lawyers want to stand in your corner and help you receive the justice your loved one deserves.
We wish you didn’t have to endure the pain and loss you’ve experienced, but you don’t have to walk this path alone. Let us help you navigate the legal path so that you can concentrate on your healing.
Contact us today for a consultation and together we can explore the merits of your case.