Indiana’s Wrongful Death Statute

At Young and Young we represent Hoosier families who are coping with the tragedy of the wrongful death of a loved one.  These are particularly hard times for families who lose the bread winner.  Even more distressing is the loss of the love, affection and guidance of a family member.  The Indiana Wrongful Death Act is the statutory law that controls a case when the family loses a loved one to wrongful death.  For the purposes of this statute, it matters not how the accident occurs.  In many instances the wrongful death is the result of a drunk driving accident, a highway accident, or a big truck accident.  However, we also see wrongful death accidents from construction accidents, falls and other accidents.

We set out for your convenience the Indiana Wrongful death statute as follows:

34-23-1-1 Death from wrongful act or omission

Sec. 1. When the death of one is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another, the personal representative of the former may maintain an action therefore against the latter, if the former might have maintained an action had he or she, as the case may be, lived, against the latter for an injury for the same act or omission. When the death of one is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another, the action shall be commenced by the personal representative of the decedent within two (2) years, and the damages shall be in such an amount as may be determined by the court or jury, including, but not limited to, reasonable medical, hospital, funeral and burial expenses, and lost earnings of such deceased person resulting from said wrongful act or omission. That part of the damages which is recovered for reasonable medical, hospital, funeral and burial expense shall inure to the exclusive benefit of the decedent’s estate for the payment thereof. The remainder of the damages, if any, shall, subject to the provisions of this article, inure to the exclusive benefit of the widow or widower, as the case may be, and to the dependent children, if any, or dependent next of kin, to be distributed in the same manner as the personal property of the deceased. If such decedent depart this life leaving no such widow or widower, or dependent children or dependent next of kin, surviving her or him, the damages inure to the exclusive benefit of the person or persons furnishing necessary and reasonable hospitalization or hospital services in connection with the last illness or injury of the decedent, performing necessary and reasonable medical or surgical services in connection with the last illness or injury of the decedent, to a funeral director or funeral home for the necessary and reasonable funeral and burial expenses, and to the personal representative, as such, for the necessary and reasonable costs and expenses of administering the estate and prosecuting or compromising the action, including a reasonable attorney’s fee, and in case of a death under such circumstances, and when such decedent leaves no such widow, widower, or dependent children, or dependent next of kin, surviving him or her, the measure of damages to be recovered shall be the total of the necessary and reasonable value of such hospitalization or hospital service, medical and surgical services, such funeral expenses, and such costs and expenses of administration, including attorney fees.

The claim must be brought by a person appointed by the Court to bring the claim.  This person is called the administrator and is usually the spouse, parent or sibling of the deceased Hoosier.  The administrator may seek assistance from an attorney to file the proper paperwork and pursue the claim.  Remember, the person whose negligence caused the wrongful death is covered by insurance which is responsible for paying the fair compensation the family of the deceased deserves

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