Losing a loved one is difficult under any circumstances. When you believe another person or entity might have caused their death, it only adds to your grief. You may be seeking out a Fishers wrongful death lawyer for any of several reasons. Maybe you want justice for your loved one, or you just need to know the truth.
If you have children, you might have lost your only source of support. If your loved one was the primary financial support, the compensation provided by a wrongful or accidental death lawsuit might be essential.
Taking legal action at a time when you are consumed by grief might seem overwhelming. But the best way to get the answers, support, and the financial compensation you need is from an experienced wrongful death law firm.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death is one that is caused by a wrongful act or the omission of another person or entity. In Hamilton County, Indiana, a wrongful death might have any of numerous causes, including:
- A car accident caused by a negligent driver
- Medical malpractice
- Accidents at work
- An intentional act
Wrongful deaths have the same causes as personal injuries. The difference is that the damage was so severe that it led to the person’s death. If you have a personal injury, you can file a claim with an Indiana personal injury lawyer. When the injury results in death, someone else must file the wrongful death claim on the deceased’s behalf.
What Does a Wrongful Death Lawyer Do?
This type of attorney helps in several ways. They can help ease your mind while you are still grieving the loss of your loved one. They will explain your rights to you according to your state, as the laws vary somewhat from one state to another. An attorney can explain the state laws of Indiana and how they apply to your specific situation. They will help you understand your rights, your responsibilities, and how to pursue your wrongful death case.
This type of lawsuit begins with the investigation. The wrongful death attorney will explore the circumstances leading to your loved one’s death and determine liability. They will examine the evidence you’ve collected and question any witnesses. If they advise you to go ahead with the lawsuit, they will explain the types of compensation you might receive.
Once the investigation is complete, the wrongful death law firm will help you file the documents to begin the lawsuit. They will explain the process and what to expect every step of the way. You can have peace of mind in knowing that your accidental death lawyer will help you get the best settlement possible for your case.
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Common Wrongful Death Causes in Indiana
There are numerous events that can lead to wrongful deaths. Some of the most common causes seen in Hamilton County include:
- Fatal Car accidents
- Semi-truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Defective products
- Premises liability
- Medical malpractice
- Construction accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
The worst type of personal injury is wrongful or accidental death. Dealing with the unexpected loss of a loved one is overwhelming. Suddenly, nothing in your life is the same as it was. While car accidents are the most common causes of wrongful death, there are many other causes. They might happen at home, work, a public venue, or while traveling. Any time someone else causes a death, it qualifies as a wrongful death.
Many accidents result from negligence, but intentional acts of violence can also lead to wrongful or accidental deaths. What you do immediately after the accident or act occurs will determine whether you will receive compensation for your loved one’s death.
What to Do Immediately After a Wrongful Death Accident
Wrongful death accidents happen unexpectedly, taking you by surprise. It’s often difficult to grasp the severity of an accident in the minutes after it happens. Your best chance of getting a positive outcome from your case is by taking charge of the situation. You need to follow the correct steps to manage the case.
- Step 1: Call 911 and make sure your loved one is transported to a hospital, whether they are severely injured or already deceased. Check that the details of the accident and their injuries are appropriately recorded.
- Step 2: Document every detail of the accident. Take photos of the scene, keep medical records, and obtain the police report of the accident when it’s available. Also, check for eyewitnesses to the accident and get their names and contact information.
- Step 3: Contact a wrongful death attorney and schedule an initial consultation. Most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation with no obligation to go forward. Take all the evidence you have collected to the appointment. They will use it to determine the strength of your claim and advise you on how to go forward with your case.
One reason for reaching out to an attorney early on is to get help negotiating with the responsible party’s insurance company. Insurance companies often try and contact accident victims early on, before they’ve talked with an attorney and learned their rights. The insurance adjuster will almost always make you an offer that is much lower than you need or deserve.
If your loved one provided financial support to you and/or your family, it is important to get a fair settlement. You will need the compensation to pay your bills and move forward with your life. If your loved one spent time in the hospital before succumbing to their injuries, you might have expensive hospital bills.
Don’t accept any offer that the insurance company makes. Let your lawyer negotiate a fair settlement that will ease your financial burden. You won’t get a second chance to negotiate for more compensation once you accept an offer.
Determining Liability in a Wrongful Death Accident
The most challenging aspect of any wrongful death case is proving liability. It is also the essential factor needed to collect compensation. When you visit a Fishers, Indiana wrongful death law firm for the first time, you must take all the evidence you have collected for your case. Your attorney will use this information in addition to what they gather from their investigation to build your case. Some important types of evidence include:
Indiana code requires law enforcement officers from the Fishers police department to investigate motor vehicle accidents resulting in death and submit a written report. An accident report often details who caused the accident in a wrongful death lawsuit.
It is customary to take photos at a crash scene that might involve serious injuries or fatalities. So, if you were in the crash that caused your loved one’s death, use your cell phone to take lots of pictures. Look for clues like skid marks, caution lights, or empty liquor containers in the other driver’s vehicle. You might capture something that proves the cause of the accident.
If you aren’t present at the crash, your attorney will reach out to law enforcement and witnesses.
Eyewitness statements are valuable for your case. Witnesses are objective and unbiased, giving them a lot of weight in proving liability. Gather the names and contact information of anyone who saw the accident occur.
Ask anyone who was on the sidewalk or in other vehicles at the scene to give a statement. They can write it out, or you can get their statement on video. Make sure you get their names and contact information, including phone numbers and email addresses. Your Fishers personal injury lawyer will want to reach out to them later.
Note, however, that most witnesses never end up in a courtroom. That’s because the majority of wrongful death cases are settled without going to trial.
If your loved one was transported to the hospital and/or had received medical treatment prior to passing, obtain their medical records. This includes visits to the emergency room or trauma centers and any hospital stays. These records might help your accidental death attorney when filing a claim.
Surveillance cameras are usually placed in business premises and homes to deter criminals. If the accident happened in front of a property with video surveillance, it might have picked up the details of the accident. Talk to your accidental death attorney about collecting any video footage available in the area. It can show the acts of the party that caused the accident.
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Who Is Eligible to Receive Compensation in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Indiana?
A wrongful death case is a lot like a personal injury case, except that the victim is no longer there to file the claim. Instead, someone close to them must file a wrongful death suit so they can receive compensation for their loss.
One way to determine if a loved one was a victim of wrongful death is to ask whether they could have sued if they had lived. Was another person or entity responsible for their injury? If so, they can be held liable for your loved one’s wrongful death.
However, proving that your loved one was a victim of wrongful death isn’t enough to collect compensation in Indiana. Some states allow anyone who is related to the deceased to file a wrongful death claim, but Indiana is much stricter. The state only allows certain people to file a wrongful death claim.
If the deceased was an adult, the personal representative (executor) of the victim’s probate estate must file the claim. This is typically the person’s surviving spouse, an adult child, parent, or sibling. If the deceased doesn’t have a will, the wrongful death law gets more complex. Indiana’s intestate succession law determines who inherits the deceased’s assets and takes care of paying their bills. If your loved one didn’t have a will, talk to a legal expert about your options for filing a claim.
If the deceased is a child, only the parents or legal guardian can file the claim. Indiana defines a child as:
- An unmarried person under 20 years of age and without dependents
- An unmarried person under 23 years of age and without any dependent who is enrolled in college, technical school, or another program
- A fetus that has reached viability
The laws involving who can receive compensation for a wrongful death in Indiana can get complex. As such, don’t make any assumptions about whether you can file a lawsuit until you talk with a lawyer. Although there are a few exceptions, you can’t be sure that different laws apply to your case.
It doesn’t cost anything to learn about your rights. Schedule a free consultation and get the expert advice you need to go forward.
Indiana Wrongful Death Laws
Just as every state has specific wrongful death laws, they also have their own exceptions to the rules. Talking with an attorney immediately after your loved one’s death will help you understand your rights. It could also mean getting compensation for the financial burden that losing your loved one places on you.
The state of Indiana has general, adult, and child wrongful death statutes as specified below:
- The general wrongful death statute provides for compensation to pay for damages for medical expenses and funeral and burial costs. It also pays for lost earnings and more.
- The state’s adult wrongful death statute includes damages from the general wrongful death statute and loss of love and companionship. This compensation is capped at $300,000.
- Indiana’s child wrongful death statute includes damages from the general wrongful death statute along with the loss of love, services, and companionship.
The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Indiana is two years from the time of death. Missing the deadline will most likely result in your losing your right to compensation.
Fishers Wrongful Death Law Firm
If you lost a loved one due to a wrongful death, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced lawyer who can help. Get compensation and justice for your loved one with a wrongful death lawsuit. Contact us to schedule a consultation. Our Fishers accidental death lawyers will answer your questions and advise you on how to proceed with your case.
Some of the locations in and around Hamilton County which our wrongful death law firm serves include Fishers, Lake Stonebridge, Rolling Meadow, Sumerlin Trails, Sawgrass, Spring Dale Estates, Hawthorn Hills, Quaker Ridge, Rolling Knoll, Windermere, Limestone Springs, Walnut Creek, Pine Bluff Overlook, Sunblest, Carmel, Noblesville, and more.