The untimely death of a person can be a simple tragedy or a cause of action in court. The latter involves a family member of the deceased going to court to receive financial justice for their loved one. The financial justice can be a jury award in a court case or a settlement agreement between the family and wrongful party. The wrongful party is the person or entity that caused the untimely death of the individual.
Indiana has a Wrongful Death Statute that Allows a Family to Sue the Wrongful Party.
Indiana Code 34-23-1 defines how the untimely death of a person may result in a wrongful death claim. It defines wrongful death is defined as a death caused by omission and/or death of another individual. This means the wrongful party failed to do something or did something to cause the victim’s untimely death. The act or failure to act may not be a criminal act, but it is one a family member can sue for in civil court.
Only the Deceased’s Personal Representative Can File a Wrongful Death Claim
In Indiana, a wrongful death claim must be filed by the victim’s personal representative. This means the personal representative must hire a personal injury attorney Fort Wayne IN. A personal representative is typically the person chosen to be the victim’s executor over their estate. However, the money does not go to the estate’s personal representative. Any money awarded or given in a settlement will go to the deceased person’s children, spouse or other dependent relatives. If more than one family member, the court will separate the money among all family members.
Special Rules Involving a Child is the Subject for the Lawsuit
If a wrongful death lawsuit involving a child, a personal representative is not required to file. Which parent can file depends on if the parents were together or separated at the time of the child’s death. For instance, if the parents are together, one or both parents can file a wrongful death claim. However, if parents are divorced, the parent with legal custody can file. The other parent cannot. If both parents are dead or their legal rights terminated, the child’s legal guardian has the right to file the claim.
Proving the Untimely Death was a Wrongful Death
A personal representative has two years from the departure of the loved one to file a wrongful death claim. If that time passes, then they have no legal recourse. The state requires the family prove the wrongful party caused the untimely death of their loved one. This proof is proven in four elements: