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Filing A Wrongful Death Lawsuit After A Fatal Car Accident in Indiana

Within two days recently in Indiana, a woman died in a collision with a flatbed tow truck on the east side of Indianapolis and one person died and two were hospitalized after a two-car crash on I-65 in Bartholomew County.

The number of car accident fatalities in Indiana has been on the increase in recent years. The most recent Indiana Crash Facts report shows there were 911 traffic deaths in 2017, the most recent year of complete statistics. That’s an 11 percent increase in traffic fatalities compared to the previous year and a 22 percent increase since 2014. 

Distracted driving and speeding are the leading causes of fatal car accidents. The Indiana Crash Facts report says that in rural areas, crashes are more likely to be fatal than they are in urban areas, where multiple stoplights slow speeds.

If you have lost a close family member in a fatal car accident caused by another motorist in Indiana, it is totally understandable to feel overwhelmed by the loss. A compassionate and experienced lawyer from Craig Kelley & Faultless can offer trusted guidance during this difficult time. The first step is simply to understand your rights by talking with a knowledgeable attorney. We can review the details of the accident and explain your legal options to seek compensation for your loss through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Who Can File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In Indiana, a wrongful death claim is filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. This may be the deceased’s spouse or adult child, or the executor of the deceased’s will, if such a person has been named.

The personal representative represents the estate because the proceeds from any settlement or court award first go to satisfy the estate’s debts, such as medical, hospital, funeral and burial expenses.

Additional compensation may be awarded to the deceased person’s spouse, children, or other next-of-kin dependents, such as parents or siblings if they relied on the deceased for financial support. 

The survivors of the deceased may recover compensation for loss of the deceased’s love and companionship. These damages may not exceed $300,000. A jury may award more to make a point in a case of egregious conduct by the defendant, but the judge will reduce the actual payment to meet Indiana’s $300,000 damages cap.

If more than one person is eligible to receive damages in a wrongful death case, the court will decide how to split the total damages awarded.

A parent or child who wishes to recover damages in the death of an adult has the burden of proving they had a genuine, substantial and ongoing relationship with the deceased.

If a child has died, a wrongful death claim may be pursued by the parents or guardian. A “child” is someone who is unmarried and without dependents and who is not yet 20 years old or not yet 23 and enrolled in college or a similar-level career and technical school or program.

Damages available in a child’s wrongful death include compensation for:

  • Loss of the child’s services
  • Loss of the child’s love and companionship
  • Medical and hospitalization costs from care provided to the child
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Costs of psychiatric and psychological counseling incurred by a surviving parent or minor sibling of the child that is required because of the death of the child
  • The child’s uninsured debts, including debts for which a parent is obligated on behalf of the child
  • Administration of the child’s estate, including reasonable attorney’s fees.

How and When Can A Wrongful Death Claim Be Filed?

To file a wrongful death claim and be successful, you must be able to establish that the deceased’s death was “caused by the wrongful act or omission of another.” In other words, you must be able to show evidence that would convince a jury that the defendant acted in a manner that was negligent, careless, intentional or reckless and that the action was the cause of the deceased’s death.

For a wrongful death claim to go forward after a fatal car accident, you would need evidence that the manner in which the defendant drove his or her car – with excessive speed, while texting behind the wheel, while legally intoxicated – caused the fatal crash. As your attorneys, Craig Kelley and Faultless will investigate the accident and gather evidence to support your claim.

A wrongful death claim in Indiana must be filed within two years of the deceased’s death. If a wrongful death claim is not filed within the time allowed, the court may dismiss the lawsuit.

Contact an Indianapolis Fatal Car Accident Attorney Today

Most wrongful death lawsuits are brought on behalf of the families of those killed in motor vehicle accidents. The attorneys of Craig Kelley & Faultless are experienced in negotiation and litigation related to wrongful death claims.

Typically, we are successful in reaching an agreement with the insurance company to settle a wrongful death case out of court based on evidence we have compiled. We negotiate for the insurance company to pay maximum compensation to the deceased’s family. However, when a proper settlement cannot be reached, we have the courtroom experience and tenacity to present your case to a jury and fight for full compensation.

Contact Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC to schedule a free legal consultation regarding a potential wrongful death claim. We can meet with you in Indianapolis, at any of our satellite offices and meeting locations or at another location you prefer.

Please don’t wait to contact us. These are complex and time-consuming cases to investigate, and we must file a lawsuit within two years of your loved one’s death. Let us set up an appointment today at a location convenient to you or in your home.

Since 1999 the Indianapolis legal team at Craig, Kelley & Faultless, LLC have been dedicated to helping individuals and their families who have been injured or have lost a loved one as the result of someone’s carelessness. The firm was founded by three attorneys, David Craig, William ‘BJ’ Kelley II and Scott Faultless, since then they have added attorneys and legal professionals to the team and opened four additional office locations to better serve their clients.