A fatal car accident is a tragic but all too common occurrence on Indiana’s roads. Nearly 800 people die in traffic crashes every year here. That means that each year as many as 800 spouses, 1,600 parents, and 1,200 children get the news nobody wants to hear—that their husband, wife, parent, or child is never coming home again. There is no consolation for such a loss, but when the person died because of another driver’s negligence or wrongdoing, you can take action to hold the person accountable for their actions. Whether the prosecutor is bringing criminal charges or not, you may be able to file a wrongful death action against the at-fault driver.
What Makes a Fatal Car Crash a Wrongful Death in Indiana?
Not every fatal crash will result in a wrongful death claim. In order for a wrongful death lawsuit to be filed, it must be shown that the crash was caused by negligent actions and that the death caused harm to surviving family members. More specifically, you must prove all of the following:
- The person’s death was caused by negligent or wrongful actions by another.
- The death caused harm to surviving dependents.
- You have a rightful claim to damages as a beneficiary.
Any careless or negligent action on the part of a driver that causes a fatal crash could result in a wrongful death lawsuit. Some examples include running a red light, excessive speed, failure to yield, texting and driving, and driving while intoxicated. Some of these actions could also lead to criminal charges being filed against the at-fault driver, but those charges are completely separate from a wrongful death claim. While a criminal charge could lead to jail time, loss of a driver’s license, and fines, a successful wrongful death claim leads to financial damages being awarded to the surviving family members.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Indiana?
The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to compensate survivors for their economic and emotional losses. Therefore, the person filing the claim must prove that they have suffered losses as a result of the death. In Indiana, a wrongful death claim may be filed by the following:
- Surviving spouse of the deceased
- Dependent children of the deceased
- Parents of the deceased
Other representatives of the deceased’s estate may be eligible to file as well. Losses for which you may be compensated include emotional distress, loss of companionship, and loss of support, as well as funeral expenses and the cost of any medical treatment received by the victim between the crash and the death.
You Will Need Legal Support
Filing a wrongful death suit is never an easy decision. You know that no amount of money will bring back your loved one, but you also know that you and any other dependents will suffer financially because of the loss. If the at-fault driver was purposely careless or reckless, he or she should be held accountable for the actions that led to your loved one’s death. In most cases, damages will be paid by the negligent driver’s insurance company, but if he or she has financial means, other sources of compensation will also be investigated.
When you have lost a loved one in a car crash, you can turn to the wrongful death attorneys at Keller & Keller. We understand what you are going through and, more importantly, we understand Indiana law and what you are entitled to under it. You are already suffering emotionally—don’t add to your suffering by failing to seek the damages to which you are entitled. Call one of our Indiana locations—in Indianapolis, Terre Haute, or Granger—today to discuss your loss. We will be honest about what we can do for you so that you can get started on the road to healing after your tragic loss. Schedule a free consultation at any of our offices. We are looking forward to hearing from you.