When families unexpectedly lose someone due to a tragic preventable incident, surviving family members often incur extreme costs and hardships that need to be overcome. The unexpected death of a wage earner, for example, will reduce the household’s income and diminish people’s standard of living.
Families also have to consider the emotional impact that the tragedy will have on the survivors and the practical demands that losing a member of the family will generate, such as increased household responsibilities for the surviving adults in the family. A wrongful death lawsuit, as permitted by Indiana state statutes, can be a way for those impacted by a tragic death caused by the negligence, misconduct or omissions of another party to seek justice and compensation for their losses.
Those who are hoping to pursue justice through a wrongful death lawsuit will typically need to know about the two important limitations on such claims in order to make informed decisions about their options.
1. Only one party can bring the claim
Indiana’s wrongful death statute does not allow just anyone to ask for financial compensation when someone dies. Although the proceeds of a wrongful death claim typically go to close family members, they must wait for the personal representative of someone’s estate to bring a claim rather than filing it on their own behalf.
The person handling the probate process will be the one to ask the Civil Courts for justice and then distribute any proceeds from a successful claim among family members after using the resources for estate Administration purposes. The one exception to this rule involves a child’s death. Parents have the right to bring a claim even if estate administration isn’t necessary.
2. Families only have two years to bring a claim
Personal injury rights don’t persist indefinitely. Those who don’t take action in a timely manner may lose out on the right to file a claim in court. Indiana applies a two-year statute of limitations to wrongful death lawsuits in most cases. Barring unusual circumstances, like the sudden discovery of compelling new evidence, those who don’t take action within two years of the date of someone’s death will often lose the right to ask for financial compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
When successful, wrongful death lawsuits help to compensate those who have been affected by a tragedy and hold the parties responsible at least partially accountable for the effects that their actions have had on others. Learning the rules that apply to wrongful death claims in Indiana can help people grieving a recent loss pursue an informed path toward justice.