Having to deal with a wrongful death is itself a rather traumatic situation to have to handle and deal with a wrongful death case on top of that often only seems to make it worse. Legal issues have a tendency to be more complicated than they need to be, either through legal mumbo jumbo getting in the way, or people exploiting said legal mumbo jumbo. One issue surrounding a wrongful death claim, however, is determining who is even able to file one in Indiana.
Who is allowed to file a wrongful death claim?
Wrongful death claims cannot be filed by the direct victim of the death, for obvious reasons. As a result, it is up to someone related to the victim to file it in their stead. But how related does one have to be? Depending on the state, you are going to find that they are more or less strict than others. While in some states, for example, a person who is allowed to file a wrongful death suit is going to be someone directly related to the victim, Indiana has stricter rules on this area.
Some situations are going to be a little more clear-cut. For example, in a case where a child is the victim of wrongful death, one or both of the parents will have to be the one who files the suit. This can become a little more complicated if the parents are divorced; in this case, the person with custody is expected to take responsibility for the filing. But what happens when neither of the parents has custody, through their passing or some other concern? This would require that whoever was acting as the child’s legal guardian at the time of their death handle the filing. Indiana has specific ways in which is defines a child as well; anyone under 20 who is neither married nor with any dependents, anyone under 23 in the same circumstances but with college enrollment or a career and a technical school, or a viable fetus.
When it comes to an adult victim of wrongful death, things do get more complicated. Some states allow parents, children, spouses, grandparents, and siblings to file wrongful death claims, but in Indiana, adult victims who have an executor (required if they have created a will) will have that executor handle the wrongful death claim. This can honestly be quite the benefit, as it reduces the need for the survivors of the victim from having to deal with the wrongful death claim as much as if they had to file the claim themselves. Of course, if you have a good lawyer on your side and a good case as well, there is a good chance that the lawyer will be able to come to some agreement with the accused to settle out of court, avoiding having to deal with the pricklier aspects of having to go to court, executor or not. You must also take care to file it relatively quickly as well, taking care not to dawdle and allow the statute of limitations to run out.
In all states, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death case is no shorter than one year, with some being longer. Indiana is one of those states, providing a two-year-long deadline, as well as extenuating circumstances depending on certain factors. The ticking clock typically starts upon the date of death. The types of claims that a person may be given through a wrongful death claim depending on various factors. In the event of a child’s death, for instance, they may receive compensation for the affection and companionship that they no longer receive, as well as more material costs, such as medical costs, funeral costs, a certain number of attorneys’ fees, etc. Adults apply to these as well. If/when there is a payout in a wrongful death claim, that money goes through the adult victim’s estate, at which point the executor disperses the money as needed. In the case of a married adult, the spouse may recover damages to account for a loss of money from the above-mentioned areas, as well as estimated future earnings their spouse would have earned.