Indianapolis Wrongful Death Lawyer
Although death is a natural part of life, losing a loved one is always a devastating experience. But when the loss is unexpected and preventable, the pain and grief are even more significant for the family.
When someone else’s negligence causes the death of a loved one, taking legal action may not be the first thing on every family’s mind. Wrongful death claims are often burdensome for surviving family members, and processing a loved one’s death is already too much to bear.
Our wrongful death lawyers can help you through this tragic experience. The affiliate attorneys at Injury Lawyers Team, sponsored by Rosenfeld Law Offices, can serve as your compassionate legal counsel and help you fight for your family’s rights to fair compensation.
Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced Indianapolis wrongful death attorney.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
According to the Indiana Code 34-23-1.1, wrongful death is “caused by the wrongful act or omission of another.”
A wrongful death claim is a civil action that aims to pursue damages against a party for causing death through negligence or intentional acts. Plaintiffs can bring it against a person already facing criminal charges for the same case and may be filed when criminal legal action is unsuccessful or is not attempted.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims
Our experienced Indianapolis wrongful death attorneys deal with hundreds of wrongful death cases yearly. The most common causes of wrongful death our lawyers have seen include:
- Auto Accidents: Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of wrongful death in the US. More than 35,000 car-crash-related accidents claim lives yearly, causing indescribable grief to families and leaving them with massive expenses.
- Commercial Truck Accidents: The sheer size of commercial trucks make them more prone to causing serious injury and death in accidents. Unfortunately, surviving family members of truck accident victims often find themselves in legal battles with corporations.
- Medical Malpractice: Losing a loved one due to a medical professional’s negligence is devastating. Medical professionals are supposed to help your loved one get better, not suffer an untimely death. Our lawyers have handled cases involving medication errors, surgical errors, and even gross negligence.
- Birth Injuries: A doctor, nurse, or other professional may be liable for wrongful death if their negligent actions led to the death of a mother or her child before, during, and after birth. Birth-injury-related medical errors that may lead to fatal injuries include misuse of birthing tools (e.g., forceps), failure to administer an emergency C-section, and inadequate post-birth monitoring.
- Pedestrian Deaths: Pedestrians are the most vulnerable victims in motor vehicle accidents because they have no protection, unlike vehicle occupants. Hence, many pedestrian accidents lead to severe injuries and death.
- Work-Related Deaths: Employers have a legal duty to provide and maintain a safe working environment for all workers. Therefore, they are liable for workers’ injuries and deaths caused by non-compliance with safety standards. Our attorneys often handle wrongful death claims for workers’ families in dangerous jobs, such as construction, mining, and fishing.
- Deaths Due to Dangerous Property Conditions: According to the law, all landowners and property owners must exercise reasonable care to avoid injury to others who enter their property. Failure to do so can result in devastating accidents, such as a child drowning in an unfenced pool or a delivery person breaking their neck on an unstable porch.
- Nursing Home Abuse: Many disabled and elderly individuals live out the rest of their lives in nursing homes. Unfortunately, not all nursing home deaths are natural. Some occur due to the abuse and neglect of nursing home staff, causing harm to people that are already physically and mentally vulnerable.
- Defective Products: A loved one dying due to a product gone wrong seems to be something out of a nightmare, but, unfortunately, it does happen in real life. Defective products often result from faults in the manufacturing or distribution process. Without proper quality checks, these products can end up on the shelves and cause severe injuries or death. Our attorneys have seen wrongful death cases involving dangerous drugs, faulty medical devices, automotive defects, and more.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
According to Indiana wrongful death law, the only person who can file a lawsuit is the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate, which could be a spouse or an adult child.
Generally speaking, the person who can file a wrongful death claim depends on whether the deceased (“decedent”) was an adult or a child at the time of death.
One or both parents must file the wrongful death case if the deceased is a child. If the parents are divorced, the parent with the legal custody of the child must file the claim. In case both parents are deceased or don’t have parental rights, the responsibility of filing the claim falls into the hands of the child’s legal guardian.
For wrongful death cases, Indiana law defines a “child” as:
- An unmarried individual younger than 20 years old with no dependents
- An unmarried individual younger than 23 years old with no dependents and enrolled in college, technical school, or other programs
- A viable fetus
In many states, the deceased’s family members are permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit against liable parties. In Indiana, however, only the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate is allowed to file a legal claim. Unfortunately, identifying the deceased’s personal representative (“executor”) becomes complicated when there is no will.
Our lawyers can help you file a lawsuit even if your loved one passes without a will. We can help you identify who has the right to file a lawsuit depending on your family’s structure and according to Indiana wrongful death law.
Wrongful Death Claims vs. Criminal Charges
A person that causes the death of another due to intentional acts or omission may face criminal charges, depending on the event’s circumstances. If found guilty, the law will punish the at-fault party accordingly with fines, imprisonment, or both.
At the same time, the deceased’s family members can file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party to recover monetary damages, such as funeral expenses and hospital bills.
Another significant difference between wrongful death and a criminal charge is that in the latter, the court must find the defendant guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In wrongful death claims, the burden of proof is much lower, wherein a plaintiff’s attorney must only show that the defendant “more likely than not” caused the victim’s death.
A wrongful death claim is not a criminal charge and can be filed simultaneously with a criminal case. You do not have to seek permission from a prosecutor or wait for a jury verdict to file a wrongful death claim against an at-fault party.
Filing an Indianapolis Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death action is similar to a personal injury lawsuit. To file a claim, you must prove that:
- The defendant had a duty of care to the deceased
- The defendant breached this duty of care
- The breach resulted in the incident that caused your loved one’s death
- The death of your loved one caused damages
Proving Liability in a Wrongful Death Suit
More often than not, the most challenging part of filing a wrongful death case is proving the at-fault party’s liability. For this reason, our wrongful death attorneys dig deep to find solid evidence to establish negligence or malicious intention, such as:
- Photos of injuries
- Medical records, test results, and prescriptions
- Autopsy reports
- Police and accident reports
- Documentation of the accident scene
- Witness accounts
- Surveillance videos
- Photos of a dangerous condition in a property
In addition, your lawyer will collect other documents to support your claim, such as:
- A death certificate
- Medical bills
- Proof of lost income, e.g., tax returns and financial records
- Funeral and burial costs
Our Indianapolis wrongful death lawyers discuss viable forms of evidence during free consultations. If you have more questions about what proof you can use in your wrongful death case, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Economic and Non-Economic Compensation
The entity or person responsible for your loved one’s passing should be held liable for your family’s damages. Your personal injury lawyer will help maximize your recovery for the following economic and non-economic damages:
- Medical Bills: Compensation for your loved one’s reasonable medical expenses before death, including hospitalization, medication, emergency transportation, surgery, etc.
- Funeral and Burial Costs: Compensation for your loved one’s funeral, burial, or cremation expenses.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for your family’s grief after your loved one’s passing.
- Loss of Income: Compensation for lost income and future earnings due to your loved one’s death.
- Loss of Benefits: Compensation for benefits that dependents lost due to a loved one’s demise, such as.medical insurance.
- Counseling Costs: Compensation for grief counseling for parents and minor siblings.
- Loss of Consortium: Compensation given to a widowed spouse for the deprivation of the benefits of their relationship.
During your free case review, your wrongful death lawyer will calculate the settlement value you deserve based on these damages. This estimation should help you avoid accepting an unfair settlement from the defendant’s insurer.
When a person dies in wrongful death, the people that can benefit from financial recovery include:
- Other dependents
- Parties who paid for medical bills, funeral costs, and other expenses, and are eligible for reimbursement
We offer free consultations to all families of wrongful death victims. If you are unsure about your legal rights to a wrongful death recovery, your Indianapolis wrongful death lawyer will discuss this matter further during your initial consultation.
Reaching a Settlement
Depending on the circumstances of the incident leading to your loved one’s passing, you may face the at-fault party’s insurance company. For instance, if the defendant is a corporation, its liability insurance would cover your family’s damages. On the other hand, if the defendant is an individual, they could use their insurance or personal funds to pay for the damages.
A wrongful death attorney can help you file a claim against the responsible party’s insurance provider. After doing so, you may receive a settlement offer.
Unfortunately, insurance companies are not always compassionate to families of wrongful death victims. Likely, you will not receive a fair settlement offer immediately, so you should not take any payment without consulting an Indianapolis wrongful death lawyer. Once you accept the compensation, you can no longer sue for additional damages.
Your Indianapolis wrongful death attorney can negotiate for better compensation on your behalf based on the amount you deserve. Avoid speaking with the insurance company without your lawyer present to avoid difficulties during the negotiation process.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In some wrongful death cases, filing a lawsuit is the only way for surviving family members to recover compensation from their loved one’s passing. Your wrongful death attorney could help you file a case in civil court if:
- The defendant’s insurer denies your claim without proper reason
- The defendant’s insurer refuses to make a fair offer
- The defendant denies liability for the fatal incident
- Negotiations with the insurer have stalled
- The extent of your family’s damages exceeds the defendant’s insurance coverage
When your case goes to civil court, a judge or jury will hear evidence from both parties. You and other family members may have to stand as witnesses and testify in court, which could add to the grief you are already experiencing. Our lawyers will help ensure the litigation process goes as smoothly as possible to prevent your case from interfering with your family’s healing process.
Other Legal Options
Civil lawsuits often take months or even years to resolve, which may be too long for some families. If you want to avoid a court trial, our attorneys could help you explore other legal options, such as arbitration or mediation. These alternative dispute resolution methods are typically less formal, less expensive, and less time-consuming than litigation.
The best course of action in a wrongful death case varies depending on the circumstances. Our Indianapolis wrongful death lawyers will discuss all possible legal options for your case during your free case review.
Statute of Limitations
According to Indiana law, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is two years from the date of the person’s death, regardless of whether the deceased person was a child or an adult.
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit as soon as possible is crucial. If you miss the two-year window, the court will most likely refuse to hear your case. Even if you manage to file a lawsuit, the defendant will likely file a motion to dismiss it.
The Role of Your Wrongful Death Lawyer
Filing a wrongful death claim or a lawsuit is often a complicated process. And because the death of a loved one is already taxing, you may have a hard time going through the legal process on your own.
Our Indianapolis wrongful death lawyers are here to help you obtain justice for your family member. We will help you build a solid case by:
- Conducting a thorough investigation of your loved one’s case
- Identifying the exact wrongful act that caused your loved one’s passing
- Establishing the liability of all responsible parties
- Determining the extent of your family’s damages (funeral costs, pre-death medical expenses, etc.)
- Filing a claim with the defendant’s insurance company and negotiating for maximum compensation
- Filing a civil lawsuit within the statute of limitations, if necessary
Schedule a Free Case Review with an Experienced Indianapolis Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Aside from the unavoidable grief that comes with the death of a loved one, family members also face financial burdens after such a tragic event. Many are left with substantial burial expenses and hospital bills. When the deceased family member is the breadwinner, their dependents also suffer from lost earnings and benefits.
While no amount of money can take away the pain of losing a loved one, recovering compensation can ease some of your family’s financial hardships. Our wrongful death attorneys are here to help you overcome this legal battle with compassion and empathy. Rest assured that our team will take most of the weight off your hands so you can focus on grieving with your family.
Contact our Indianapolis wrongful death attorneys today for a free legal consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Our lawyers at Injury Lawyers Team handle all accepted wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t have to pay for our services unless we win your case.