Indiana has three separate wrongful death statutes including the General Wrongful Death Statute (GWDS), the Adult Wrongful Death Statute (AWDS), and the Child Wrongful Death Statute (CWDS). (The GWDS and ADWS are both outlined in the link for the AWDS with the GWDS being on top and the AWDS being on bottom). Both the AWDS and CWDS expressly provide for attorneys fees, but the Indiana Supreme Court decided in SCI Propane, LLC v. Frederick that attorney fees are not available when suit is brought under the GWDS.
In a practical matter, this means when the deceased is either a child or an adult with no surviving descendants attorneys fees are provided by statute (AWDS and CWDS), but when the deceased is an adult with surviving descendants attorneys fees are not provided. This decision led many to speculate less wrongful death cases would be brought because of attorneys unwillingness to litigate them, but now a solution to this issue has been proposed.
On January 5, 2016 Senator Lonnie Randolph introduced Senate Bill 124 which, if it passes, would allow for attorneys fees in adult wrongful death actions where the decedent leaves descendants. This bill was referred to the committee on civil law that same day.
Not only would this bill help simplify wrongful death law in Indiana, it would make it more likely that attorneys would want to bring wrongful death suits. While most Personal Injury Lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, being able to collect attorneys fees by statute as opposed to taking a percentage of the verdict or settlement seems to be a better avenue in these cases, especially when you consider the damages an individual can receive are capped. Because of this cap clients tend to get less than they deserve and attorneys get paid less when depending on a contingency fee because of the large amount of work that goes into litigating a wrongful death case.
If your family member or friend has been killed or seriously injured due to the negligence of another contact and experienced Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer immediately. Injuries and deaths resulting from car accidents, semi-truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents require quick and experienced legal and investigative response to preserve any evidence and help present your case in the best light possible. Contact the Attorneys at the Indianapolis Law Office of William “Bill” Hurst or call us toll free at (800) 636-0808 for a free consultation. ¡Hablamos Español!