The death of a loved one is a subject that nobody likes to think or talk about. But, it can become even more painful when you find out that a loved one passed as a result of another party’s actions. There are over 150,000 unintentional deaths each year, and many of these are a direct result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. If you’ve recently had someone close to you pass, you need to start asking questions about what happened. Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we got you covered. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about what information to look out for before filing a wrongful death claim.
1. Who’s Able to Make a Wrongful Death Claim?
Typically, only family members are able to file a wrongful death claim. This includes parents, siblings, children, etc. But, this is limited to only immediate family members. If nobody else is able to file a claim on the deceased’s behalf, more “distant” family members are able to file a claim, such as grandparents or cousins. There is one other type of individual, however. Those who are financial dependents on the deceased are also able to file a wrongful death claim if their quality of life is significantly impacted by their caretaker’s passing. Outside of these classifications, however, a wrongful death claim is not a valid option. This means close friends (unless they are designated beneficiaries) cannot file a wrongful death claim, either.
2. Is There a Statute of Limitations?
Although wrongful death is a serious issue that requires justice, there is still a time limit on how long you have to file a claim. In the state of Indiana, you have two years to file a wrongful death claim before the statute of limitations expires. This timer starts counting down on the day of the deceased’s death. As long as you file your wrongful death claim before this time limit expires, you’ll be able to move forward with your case. But, many people find themselves conflicted about whether or not they should pursue a case like this. They often get stuck on the question…
3. How Do I Prove Who Was at Fault?
In order to prove someone else is at fault for the deceased’s death, you’re going to have to show the court that the defendant was responsible for either negligence or wrongdoing. Let’s take a brief look at a scenario for each.
Let’s assume the deceased worked in a warehouse for over two decades. A few years after they leave that occupation, the deceased is diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of cancer. Before they pass, they learn that this type of cancer is most commonly associated with long-term exposure to airborne chemicals without appropriate protection. They then think back to the warehouse they worked at and how nobody in that particular facility was ever required to wear a respirator. The family of the deceased can file a claim against the person in charge of managing the safety conditions of the warehouse. The deceased’s medical records will show a direct correlation between the chemicals present at the warehouse and the type of cancer they were diagnosed with. From here, the family will need to prove the chemicals were actually present at the warehouse, which shouldn’t prove to be too much of an issue for a private investigator.
Wrongdoing often involves the misuse of power that results in someone’s death. But, it could also stem from pure malice. Beth and Johnathan have a tumultuous romantic history, having been in and out of a relationship for years. While they experience their highest highs together, they also go through their lowest lows. After a night of drinking, the couple gets into an argument outside their apartment. Frustrated, Beth throws her car keys at Johnathan’s face, striking him. As an immediate reaction, Johnathan shoves Beth away from him. She stumbles backward and tumbles over a guard rail on the fourth floor of her apartment building. She passes away at the scene shortly after as a result of her injuries. Neighbors witness the conflict and call the police. Johnathan is arrested and charged with manslaughter. But, manslaughter is Johnathan’s criminal charge. Since a wrongful death claim involves a civil trial, Beth’s family is able to sue Johnathan over the loss of her life.
4. What Damages Can I Pursue?
There are plenty of damages you can sue for during this type of claim. Common forms of compensation include:
- Covering funeral and burial costs
- The deceased’s medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages that the deceased would have earned
- Loss of care if the deceased was a caretaker
The damages you can pursue aren’t limited to this list and can vary case by case. You’ll want to get in touch with a legal professional to discuss your options. But, you may be asking yourself…
5. How Do I Find a Trustworthy Attorney?
It’s not much different than looking for any other type of professional. You’ll want someone with plenty of experience, a proven track record, and someone who is willing to go above and beyond for their clients. This means things like reaching out to check up on you, answering calls or texts after hours (within reason), etc. But, you’ll also want to look for someone who is emotionally accessible. Death is a difficult issue to deal with, especially when it comes to a family member. Having an attorney that you feel comfortable talking to will help your case go as smoothly as possible before you ever set foot in the courtroom.
Recovering from a Wrongful Death Can Seem Difficult
But it doesn’t have to be. With the above information in mind, you’ll be well on your way to filing a successful wrongful death claim if you have one. Want to learn more legal tips that can help make your life easier? Make sure to check out the rest of our blog!