Losing a loved one to a tragic illness or injury is devastating. A wrongful death — one caused by someone else’s recklessness or negligence — is particularly hard on the families who must carry on without their loved ones.
If you are contemplating legal action related to the untimely loss of a family member, a knowledgeable South Bend wrongful death lawyer could help you obtain the best possible outcome during an extremely difficult time. Our compassionate civil attorney understands the pain you feel and could manage your claim with the respect and sensitivity you and your family deserve.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Action?
Wrongful death is the legal term used when the negligence or wrongful actions of another results in an innocent person’s death. State law recognizes the right of survivors to file a lawsuit against the person and entities who caused the fatal injuries.
Under state law, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. Often, the personal representative is a spouse, child, parent, or sibling. However, if a child falls victim to someone else’s negligence, the parent can sue the responsible parties even if they are not the child’s personal representative. If the parents are divorced, the child’s primary legal custodian can file the action.
If a person is not qualified to file a wrongful death claim, a judge could dismiss the lawsuit based on lack of legal standing. A person considering a wrongful death claim is well-advised to talk to a seasoned South Bend attorney before taking legal action.
Filing Deadline in South Bend
According to the Indiana Code §34-11-2-4, a person entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit must do so within two years following their loved one’s death. A failure to file within this timeline could bar the decedent’s personal representative and their family from obtaining any compensation for their loss. An attorney experienced in wrongful death claims could ensure that the claim is filed timely and in the appropriate South Bend court.
Recovering Damages for the Loss of a Loved One
While no amount of money can fully compensate a family grieving their loved one’s death, compensation can help them pay certain expenses as they try to move on. Some recoverable damages in an untimely death lawsuit include:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses for any treatment their loved one received prior to death
- Psychological counseling for immediate family members
- The loss of the decedent’s love, companionship, and services to the family, including caring for their children
- Attorney’s fees and legal expenses for pursuing the wrongful death claim
Under Indiana Code §34-23-1-2(f), a parent or child seeking to recover damages for a wrongful death has the burden of proving that they had a genuine, substantial, and ongoing relationship with the decedent. Additionally, a judge or jury may not hear evidence of the lost wages the deceased person might have earned but for their death. In a wrongful death claim, the maximum recovery is limited to $300,000.
While economic damages may only serve as partial comfort to grieving survivors, they can help spouses, children, and loved ones move on with their lives. A qualified attorney in South Bend could assess a negligent death claim and determine what damages are warranted based on the family’s losses.
Speak with a Compassionate South Bend Wrongful Death Attorney
In the aftermath of the senseless death of a loved one, you and your family may experience intense emotional pain. To compound your grief, you must address the loss of your family member’s physical and economic contributions to your family’s well-being.
Contact a skilled South Bend wrongful death lawyer today if someone else’s conduct took your loved one’s life. Our compassionate legal team understands that a lawsuit cannot bring your family member back. However, monetary compensation can help you take care of yourself and your family as you recover from the tragedy.