Wrongful Death FAQs


What is the definition of “Wrongful Death?”

Wrongful death statutes vary from state to state. In Indiana, the statute defines wrongful death as, “The death of one caused by the wrongful act or omission of another.” If an individual dies as a result of someone else’s negligence, the court believes that family members of the deceased are entitled to compensation.

What is the purpose of a Wrongful Death lawsuit?

The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to:

  • Determine whether or not the deceased is dead because of the negligence of someone else.
  • To determine what, if any, money damages should be awarded

What are some examples of a wrongful death suit?

There are many examples that could be considered wrongful death. Some common examples of wrongful death include:

  • Vehicular accident
  • Medical malpractice
  • Workplace accidents
  • Criminal behavior
  • Defective products

For a more complete list, please visit Alvarez Law Office’s wrongful death page.

What is a Pecuniary Loss?

A pecuniary loss defines damages that can be measured in monetary terms. For instance, the cost of medical expenses can be calculated easily into a monetary loss for the victim. This is an example of a pecuniary loss. The emotional distress of a grieving family member, on the other hand, is difficult to assess in monetary terms. That would be an example of a non-pecuniary loss.

An important part of a wrongful death suit is determining pecuniary loss. The court will attempt to make a determination of the earning capacity for the deceased based on his age, current wages, and health.

Some common examples of a pecuniary loss include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Funeral expenses
  • Repair for damage to a vehicle

What does ‘Punitive Damages’ mean?

Punitive damages are awarded if the defendant has intent to harm rather than merely being negligent. In Indiana, a punitive damage award may not be more than the greater of:

  • Three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded in the action; or
  • Fifty thousand dollars ($50,000)

Can I bring a Wrongful Death suit if the deceased was unemployed or not wealthy?

Yes. In fact the jury may award lost earnings even if the deceased is unemployed especially if he had been employed in the past.

Is there a statute of limitations (time limit) to file a wrongful death suit?

Yes. In Indiana the statute of limitations is 2 years.

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