Wrongful Death Attorneys Discuss The Wrongful Death Act
Losing a loved one can be catastrophic, and in such situations, the last thing most people want to do is engage in a complex legal battle. However, it is possible in many situations to recover damages that, while they will not bring your loved one back, may help ease the transition in terms of expenses and hardships. Consulting a knowledgeable attorney is generally a good idea.
The General Wrongful Death Act
In some other states, wrongful death is an action at common law, meaning that it was established by case precedent. In Indiana, however, this is not the case, and all possible wrongful death cases are founded on statutory authority. There are three different Acts that govern wrongful death and survival actions in the state. One is referred to as the ‘general’ Wrongful Death Act, which establishes the parameters and requirements for most wrongful death cases that are brought. It applies to adults who leave dependents – generally spouses, children or parents.
The WDA does not, unlike many other wrongful death statutes, put a cap on recoverable damages, but the expenses it allows recovery for are somewhat narrow. Lost wages, which are recoverable in many states, are not recoverable under any circumstances if the decedent has no living dependents. Also, claims like loss of consortium, which hinge on establishing lost ‘love, care, affection’ and similar relationships, cannot be sued for unless dependency on the decedent is established. For example, if a wife wishes to sue in wrongful death for loss of consortium, she must first establish dependence (of some kind, not necessarily pecuniary) on the deceased, or that kind of claim is barred.
The AWDA and CWDA
In cases other than those of adults with dependents, Indiana looks to alternative laws. The Adult Wrongful Death Act was passed in 1999, and it governs the cases of adults without any dependents. They may have living relatives, but if they are not dependent on the person, they may not bring suit under the general WDA. In these cases, the personal representative of the deceased person may mount an action for expenses like medical bills and funeral expenses. However, damages are capped at $300,000, and no claims for loss of affection or pain and suffering are permitted.
The Child Wrongful Death Act, by comparison, is somewhat more lenient, especially if it is a parent seeking to bring suit. Damages for loss of love, care and affection are usually permitted in cases involving child deaths, as well as attorney fees. It is also possible to recover for expenses relating to the child’s passing, such as funeral expenses, or psychological counseling for a surviving parent or sibling. If successful in your suit, damages are paid until whichever is sooner – the child’s twentieth birthday, or the life of the survivor parent/guardian. Despite the egregious nature of many child wrongful death suits, it is important to remember, however, that punitive damages are never permissible under Indiana law.
Consult A Wrongful Death Attorney
The death of a loved one is a life-changing event, and while monetary compensation will not bring them back, it can help offset expenses and unforeseen hardships. The Indiana wrongful death attorneys at Holland & Holland can discuss your options with you today. Call us at (317) 581-4400 to set up an appointment.