A case of wrongful death can not only cause the deceased’s family great pain, but it can also limit that family financially, especially if the deceased was the primary provider for that household. In order to compensate the family of the deceased for their loss, it is important to hold the person or company liable for the actions that caused the wrongful death.
Often, wrongful death is defined as a death caused by the act, failure to act, or omission of another. This act or omission that causes the death of another often leads to a civil lawsuit, although there can be a criminal case filed in conjunction with the civil case, such as a case of drunk driving resulting in death. Filing a civil suit in a wrongful death case can be very complicated, because there are many steps that must be followed, but those steps are examined below.
In a wrongful death suit, since the person has died and cannot act as the plaintiff, that person’s estate will file the suit on their behalf for relief in the form of monetary damages. A wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. The damages awarded, if any, can be awarded to the deceased’s spouse, children, or other family members. However, if the damages must be split between people, the court will decide how those damages are divided up among multiple people.
In many states, including Indiana, damages are capped in a wrongful death lawsuit. In Indiana, that cap is placed at $300,000. Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit are based on several things. Funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses, lost wages of the deceased, and the costs of pursuing the wrongful death lawsuit. An estate may not claim damages for grief in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Concerning medical expenses, that money goes directly to the estate, and the estate is responsible for paying those expenses. The money that goes to the family of the deceased would be the damages associated with lost wages, along with the money spent on funeral expenses and costs of pursuing the wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful death suits are often based around whether or not the person who caused the death owed the deceased some sort of duty, or caused the death based on an action or omission. Generally, this can arise as a negligence claim. However, there are other claims that can be brought, such as when a person acts in a willfully dangerous manner.
In Indiana, the statute of limitations to bring a claim of wrongful death is two years. This allows a grieving family the time necessary to set up an estate from which to bring the lawsuit, and to designate a person to be the representative of that estate.
Recently in Indiana, the Supreme Court discussed notice requirements to change the representative of the estate, and whether or not that can be done after one has already been appointed, but not removed. In the case Estate of Lewis v. Tolliver, the Supreme Court held that trial courts have the discretion to consider the appointment of a special representative of an estate, even when procedures have not been followed to remove the first representative. However, the Supreme Court also held that moving forward, notice was necessary for any opposing party or beneficiary when removing a representative in that party’s or beneficiary’s best interest.
This means that when a representative is not acting in the best interest of a beneficiary of any compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit, they may be replaced, but the person who is to receive any funds from a wrongful death suit must be notified of their replacement.
Do You Have A Wrongful Death Claim for the Death of a Family Member?
The Legal Team at Hurst Limontes LLC keeps fighting for their clients. We will fight for fair compensation for any lost wages that you or your family has experienced as a result of this wrongful death. We have years of experience working for our clients. Contact us by phone or email today for a free consultation.