Nothing in life is as difficult as the death of a family member, especially when it was avoidable and happened only because of the negligent or careless act of another.
Not only does such a loss cause deep pain and suffering, but it can also have a financial impact on you and your family, from funeral costs to loss of income. While nothing can make up for the pain you are experiencing, you may be able to recover compensation against the negligent party for both your economic and non-economic damages.
However, it’s essential to understand how wrongful death cases work and how to get the process started. Here, we’re going to take a look at when you can sue for wrongful death, who can file a claim, and what the wrongful death process looks like.
That said, we highly recommend you reach out to an experienced wrongful death attorney to discuss your situation and the options available to you. Get in touch with the Indiana and Kentucky wrongful death lawyers at the Karl Truman Law office for a free case evaluation.
Before we look at the time limits for filing a wrongful death claim, we first need to understand what, exactly, qualifies as wrongful death.
A wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury claim. It requires that another party acted negligently, that this negligence directly caused an injury, and that this injury led to damages.
So, for example, if another driver ran a red light and collided with your vehicle, leading to a spinal cord injury, you would be able to pursue compensation for the damages associated with that injury, from medical bills and lost wages to pain and suffering.
The qualifications are the same for wrongful death, with the one difference being that the accident victim passed away as a result of their injuries. If they had lived, they would have been able to file a personal injury claim for their damages.
A statute of limitations is a time limit during which you can file a lawsuit. They exist across most areas of law, including personal injury law
If you fail to file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, it can be extremely difficult – if not impossible – to take action. While some exceptions do exist, they are rare.
Statutes of limitations are decided on a state-by-state basis.
These short time limits are why it’s so important to begin working with an attorney and building your case as soon as possible. While this might sound overwhelming, an attorney will be able to handle the legal case for you while you focus on your family’s personal life.
In both Indiana and Kentucky, a wrongful death claim must be filed by a personal representative of the deceased’s estate. This individual might be named in a will. If the decedent did not have a will or did not specify a personal representative in it, then the court will appoint one.
While a personal representative may file the claim, surviving family members are awarded damages in the event of a settlement or favorable verdict. Compensation in a wrongful death claim may be awarded to the deceased’s:
In Indiana, when a child passes away due to wrongful death, the child’s parents or legal guardian need to file the claim.
Every wrongful death lawsuit starts with an investigation. After a consultation, an attorney will begin looking into your case.
The first part of this involves proving negligence. While the specifics of an investigation – and how long it takes – vary depending on the type of accident that caused the death, this step typically involves gathering evidence, performing research, and interviewing witnesses.
Once we have built a case against the negligent party, we need to calculate damages. That is, how much economic loss has the death caused and what do you deserve to recover in non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering? In Kentucky, there is no damage cap, though in Indiana there are caps to the amount you can recover.
At this point, we will then file a claim. Again, how we file this claim depends on the type of accident. If, for example, it was a car accident, we would file the claim against the other party’s insurance company. Upon receiving and reviewing the claim, the insurance company may offer a settlement, which generally leads to a negotiation.
If they do not provide a sufficient settlement offer, we then have the option to file a lawsuit and take the case to trial. While settling can be the quickest and easiest option for everyone involved, we believe it’s crucial you and your attorney are willing to take the case to court if need be.
While the grieving brought on by a loved one’s death is an incredibly challenging time, we urge you not to wait to get in touch with an attorney who can help you recover maximum compensation for the damages caused by the loss of your loved one.
We provide free initial consultations, and we don’t charge you a penny unless and until we secure a favorable result in your case.