There are roughly 146,500 accident-related deaths each year in the United States alone, making death from unintentional injuries the fourth-leading fatality cause. Many people who unexpectedly die leave children, spouses, parents, or other loved ones behind who never imagined this would happen to their family. In the wake of these sudden emotional and financial losses, the survivors may not know how to go forward.
The Noblesville wrongful death lawyers at our law firm can represent any surviving family members of victims of wrongful, accidental or unintentional death. Even though at times these claims can seem clear cut, the defendants almost always put up a very aggressive fight against liability for this type of death.
During the difficult time period after the death of a loved one, family members can benefit from enlisting the help of a wrongful death lawyer in Noblesville, Indiana, to guide them through the litigation process.
Are Wrongful and Accidental Deaths Common?
Wrongful death falls under the civil lawsuit umbrella, and dependents of family members of the deceased bring the lawsuit against the party who negligently or knowingly caused the victim’s death. A wrongful death claim can be leveraged against someone facing criminal charges for the victim’s death. Even if the court finds the defendant innocent of a criminal charge, the defendant may be found liable for the wrongful death because there is a lower burden of proof.
State statutes govern the action, limiting the damages and who benefits from these lawsuits. The statutes outline that spouses and children of the deceased can obtain damages in a wrongful death suit, and some states extend this to siblings, parents, and other dependents.
Wrongful death suit damages compensate for the suffering and loss of financial support due to the victim’s death. Juries can award damages based on several factors, including the family members’ dependence on the deceased, the victim’s income before the death, and expected income going forward. Juries may award damages based on pain, funeral expenses, and emotional harm. Some states also allow for punitive damages when the defendant’s actions are borne out of recklessness or ill intent.
Research shows that there were 224,935 unintentional injury deaths in the United States per year, along with 45,404 motor vehicle traffic deaths, 44,686 unintentional fall deaths, and 102,001 unintentional poisoning deaths. There were also 24.8 million physician office visits per year due to accidental injuries, and 24.2 million emergency department visits.
Common Accidental or Unintentional Death Cases
There are a few leading causes of wrongful deaths in the United States that stand out above the others. They include:
Every car accident carries the risk of dying or sustaining injuries, and there were 6,756,000 car accidents reported to the police in 2019. However, high-impact accidents can be much more serious, increasing your chances of having life-altering, permanent injuries. In 2019, roughly two million people sustained permanent injuries as a result of a car accident, and 33,244 accidents had fatalities.
- State Road 19
- State Road 32
- State Road 37
- State Road 38
- US 31
- US 421
These highways put commercial and noncommercial vehicles in close quarters while traveling at higher speeds, increasing your chances of an accident. Additionally, there are a few high-impact accidents that are more likely to be fatal, which includes:
- Head-On Collisions – This is a very dangerous type of accident, occurring when two vehicles travel toward one another and collide, front to front. Speeding, running red lights, and swerving into oncoming traffic are the biggest factors in these accidents. Victims of head-on collisions are more likely to suffer from broken necks, spinal cord injuries, or major organ trauma.
- Highway Accidents – Highways place commercial and noncommercial vehicles and motorcycles in close quarters, traveling at higher speeds. This increases the risks for an accident, and the faster pace can make what would normally be a minor accident catastrophic.
- Rollover Accidents – The motorist’s handling or maneuvering while driving is the leading cause of this accident. The car can roll multiple times or once, depending on the speed at the time of the accident. You’ll be subjected to impact from several sides, which can cause head, brain, or spinal injuries.
- Wrong-Way Accidents – A driver who travels the wrong way on an interstate or busy road can have disastrous outcomes with catastrophic injuries if they collide with another vehicle. It can be a challenge to prove who caused the accident, so enlisting the help of a wrongful death attorney in Noblesville, can help you handle your case.
In 2019, 112 motorcyclists were killed on Indiana roadways. This number fluctuated over a 10-year period from a high of 151 in 2012 to a low of 98 in 2016. Even though motorcycle accidents only made up 2% of all of Indiana’s vehicle-related accidents, they were responsible for 16% of the deaths.
Since motorcycles aren’t equipped with standard safety gear like a seatbelt or a metal body that encloses you like a vehicle, the chances of dying or sustaining severe injuries are much higher if you’re involved in a collision. Motorcycles also have a much slimmer profile, which makes it more difficult for other drivers to spot and avoid you, leading to more accidents.
Tractor Trailer and Truck Wrecks
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proved that over 116,000 people sustained injuries and 4,000 people died as a result of semi-truck collisions in the United States. Out of the 1,166 accidents in Indiana, research showed that 11.4% of them involved tractor trailers or large trucks. These vehicles don’t have the stopping power that you’ll get with a smaller car, and they tend to be much heavier and larger. If they strike your vehicle, they have the potential to do severe damage simply for the momentum and weight they bring to a crash. If they have cargo, this adds to the weight.
An accident involving a pedestrian happens when someone who is standing or walking collides with a vehicle. These accidents largely occur when someone walks across the street or on the side of the road and gets struck by a vehicle, but they can also happen on a sidewalk, trail, or another area not meant for vehicle traffic. Hit and run accidents fall into this category, where a car strikes a person and then flees the accident scene.
Pedestrian accidents can be devastating for the person struck because you have several thousand pounds of steel coming at you at a high speed. It can result in everything from scrapes and bruises to broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or death.
Bicycling is a great form of exercise, but it also brings bicyclists and vehicles in very close contact. Poor road conditions, reckless drivers, distracted cyclists, and bicycle defects are the leading causes of bike accidents. If a vehicle strikes a cyclist, this can result in severe injuries or fatalities.
Medical malpractice is a type of negligence law, and it happens when a hospital, healthcare professional, or doctor fails to care for a patient to a set standard. As a result, the patient can sustain injuries that are life-altering or result in death. Medical malpractice can include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, premature discharge, incorrect medications, failing to order the correct tests, and more.
Wrongful Death Law Firm Advocating For Your Rights
A victim’s death can be a result of another person’s negligence. Negligence is failing to deliver a specific level of care that a reasonable person would receive in a similar scenario. Even if the person didn’t mean to make the mistake, it doesn’t remove the potential liability.
There are several types of negligence. For example, in an accident involving a car, motorcycle, or tractor trailer, the driver who caused the accident may have been distracted or under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Not only does this impede their decision-making abilities, but it causes an accident that could have been avoided otherwise. Another example would be a nurse or medical professional giving the wrong medication dose to a patient, which led to respiratory distress. The person skipped the necessary verification steps to save time, which resulted in a patient’s death.
Since these can be very complex cases, it’s best to enlist the help of a Noblesville wrongful death lawyer, like the professional and experienced ones at our personal injury law firm. We have a team of dedicated legal experts on staff that have an in-depth knowledge of Indiana’s laws, and can help you navigate your wrongful death claim.
Indiana Law: GWDA and AWDA Statutes
When someone’s negligence causes the death of a loved one, Indiana law has two statutes to help survivors recover damages. When it comes to a wrongful death claim, it’s important to understand which statute would be more beneficial to you.
Originally established in 1881, Indiana’s GWDA (General Wrongful Death Act, Indiana Code 34-23-11) was meant to give relief in wrongful death cases. This statute allows the victim’s heirs to pursue legal action against the negligent person who is responsible for the victim’s death with the help of a Noblesville wrongful death attorney. Indiana courts allow the dependent children, surviving spouse, and dependent next of kin to recover damages related to the loss of affection and love of the deceased. Under this statute, you can’t recover the related attorney fees.
Indiana’s AWDA (Adult Wrongful Death Act) encompasses the wrongful death case for unmarried adults who have no dependents. In these instances, the court will appoint a personal representative to file legal action on behalf of the deceased’s estate against the negligent party. The estate can seek damages for medical expenses, reasonable hospital costs, burial and funeral expenses, and the loss of the deceased’s companionship and love for non-dependent parents or children. Under this statute, the court determines the damage amounts for loss of companionship and love based on each survivor’s specific loss. You can’t recover the related attorney fees under this statute.
Also, the damages you’re entitled to under this statute have caps, and they include:
- Non-dependent adults have to prove that they had an ongoing, substantial relationship with the deceased to be entitled damages for loss of companionship or love.
- The deceased party’s estate has to pursue a wrongful death claim.
- The total cumulative damages for loss of companionship or love gets capped at $300,000 by Indiana’s state laws.
- You can’t recover damages for the deceased’s lost earnings.
What Damages Can Be Recovered In Case of Death?
In personal injury lawsuits, damages are the amount of money the court awards a victim for the defendant’s breach of duty. In Indiana, you can recover a specific set of damages in a wrongful death claim, including:
Lost earnings are financial compensation for the deceased’s lost employment benefits, wages, and capacity to earn. This includes the wages they would have earned if they hadn’t died. The amount of lost earnings you can recover in Indiana will depend on the person’s age and income at the time of death.
This category reimburses surviving family members for the value of what the deceased would have managed to save and passed onto their heirs had they lived a normal amount of years. This can include 401(k), properties, savings, stocks and bonds, retirement benefits, and other investments. The court will estimate what the deceased would have made and passed on if they had survived the accident.
Lost Services, Love, and Support
Love support and services are intangible damages that encompass the survivors’ losses of the decedent’s services in the household, including cooking, chores, handiwork, and childcare. It can also include a loss of the decedent’s care, companionship, love, comfort, and advice.
Emotional Distress, Pain, and Suffering
A wrongful death lawsuit can reimburse the decedent’s family for their mental anguish and emotional distress, and it also includes damages for the decedent’s pain and suffering before they died. It covers emotional suffering, physical pain, psychological trauma, distress, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and reduced quality of life.
If the person dies as a result of an omission, gross negligence, or willful act of the defendant, the plaintiff can be entitled to exemplary damages and actual damages. Gross negligence is defined as having a reckless disregard for other people’s safety. Punitive or exemplary damages are to punish the defendant, and a judge will determine the amount of these damages and if you are entitled to any.
Serving The Community of Noblesville, Indiana
Noblesville is a thriving historic town in Indiana that offers plenty to do and see for individuals and families. You can take a day and bring the whole family to the Historic Noblesville Square, visit the Nickel Plate Arts or Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center, or take a stroll through one of the many parks and recreational areas.
There are also several recreational amenities in the city, including the Belfry Theater, seven private and public golf courses, shopping and historic sightseeing opportunities, and dozens of attractions that are fit for the whole family.
Struggling With The Loss of a Loved One? Contact Us Today
Contact us if you’re looking for an experienced and compassionate wrongful death lawyer in Noblesville. We offer a free case evaluation, and we’re happy to answer your questions and help you explore your options.