A wrongful death lawsuit is a kind of personal injury claim. In such lawsuits, surviving dependents and family members seek compensation from the individuals or businesses responsible for the death of a loved one. Such claims can be the only viable form of justice available, especially if the state declined to prosecute the other party involved.
The Indiana civil courts can grant compensatory damages when there is proof that negligence or misconduct was the cause of someone’s death. Pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit can lead to repayment of funeral costs and compensation for decades of lost wages in the future. Families can also seek compensation for less obvious losses, like the loss of daily companionship or household services.
There could be many people who feel directly affected by someone’s untimely death, but not all of them have any rights under state law. Who has the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit in Indiana?
Typically, the estate makes the claim
For most wrongful death claims involving an adult who dies in a preventable and tragic situation, the executor or personal representative managing their estate will be the person with the necessary authority to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
Once the probate courts appoint the representative, they gain the authority to take action related to the death. They initiate the wrongful death claim, but they may not directly benefit from it in many cases. The estate will eventually distribute the proceeds of the lawsuit among the appropriate beneficiaries, including the spouse and children of the deceased. The closest surviving family members are typically the main recipients of wrongful death lawsuit proceeds.
There is an exception to this rule
There is one scenario in which the family members of the deceased individual can bring a claim directly without involving the estate. When parents lose a child and have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit, they can initiate a claim without necessarily initiating probate proceedings for the child.
For many families, the justice available through the civil courts will be the best comfort available following the tragic loss of a loved one in a car crash or a similar preventable incident. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can both benefit the survivors and punish the party responsible.