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Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit after someone dies in Indiana?

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2024 | Personal Injury

Families generally expect to spend as much time as possible together. People who get married imagine growing old together. Parents imagine watching their children finish school and start families of their own, while children imagine their parents witnessing their major accomplishments as they mature.

Unfortunately, not all households get to enjoy decades together. Some people lose their loved ones due to unusual circumstances far earlier than they would have if their loved one died of natural causes. Situations such as car crashes or violent criminal activity can lead to tragic outcomes for families. In Indiana, state statutes allow people to file a wrongful death lawsuit if someone dies due to the negligence or misconduct of another party.

Both individuals and businesses can face wrongful death lawsuits after a tragedy occurs. Such lawsuits create penalties for those who harm individuals and also reduce the negative impact of an incident on the people closest to the deceased. However, the law does limit who can file such lawsuits.

When the deceased was an adult

Indiana actually has two separate statutes for wrongful death lawsuits. The vast majority of such lawsuits arise when an adult dies unexpectedly. In those situations, the person who dies could have a spouse, children and many others who depend on them. However, the people in their inner circle don’t necessarily take legal action after their death. Instead, the personal representative appointed to administer their estate has the authority to file a wrongful death lawsuit. They bring the claim on behalf of the estate and then theoretically use any proceeds to address the responsibilities of the decedent. They also distribute what remains among close family members, such as spouses and children.

When the deceased was a minor

Formal estate administration is often not necessary when a minor child dies. Parents tend to handle everything on behalf of the deceased minor. Therefore, the appointment of a personal representative is unlikely. The parents of the child who died tragically have the right under Indiana state law to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. While it can be difficult to take legal action while simultaneously grieving the loss of a child, holding someone accountable for that tragedy may give the family a sense of closure.

Learning the basics about Indiana’s wrongful death laws is an important first step in the pursuit of justice after a tragedy. Families that understand their rights can take appropriate steps after the premature passing of an individual due to another’s negligence or intentional conduct.