Death can affect us in many ways. We feel a loved one’s death emotionally, mentally, and physically. But if your loved one died by someone else’s hand, it can add stress and anxiety to an already trying time.
Aside from being difficult in so many ways, a loved one’s death can also affect us financially. While the compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit cannot bring this person back, it can provide peace of mind and stability for their family and dependents.
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, contact the Evansville wrongful death attorneys at Gerling Law today.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death claims arise when a party causes someone’s death due to negligence or misconduct. These claims are made by the survivors of the individual to seek compensation. The damages sought serve to help survivors financially and emotionally.
Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death occurs when an individual’s negligence, recklessness, or misconduct results in someone’s death. To establish negligence, certain elements must be proven:
- The defendant had a duty of care to the deceased;
- The defendant breached this duty;
- The breach was the actual and proximate cause of the death; and
- The breach resulted in damages.
Some of the common causes of wrongful death include:
There is no way to ignore the fact that driving a vehicle can be dangerous. While many of us may go years without getting into a car accident, others are not so lucky. Many wrongful death lawsuit cases happen each year after fatal car and truck accidents. Generally, if a driver’s negligent actions cause a death on the road, they are liable for the wrongful death.
The number of car accident fatalities each year may surprise you. More than 38,000 people die in car accidents each year. In 2020, while there was less traffic volume than normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of vehicle fatalities rose. Some experts say that the increase in fatalities was due, in part, to increased rates of speeding in the US. If a loved one dies after a car accident that someone else negligently causes, you are entitled to compensation through a wrongful death claim.
Some of the most common causes of death after car accidents stem from things like:
- Brain injuries,
- Neck injuries, and
- Internal bleeding.
The two best things you and your loved ones can do to avoid suffering a fatal injury in a car accident are wearing your seatbelt and avoiding distractions while driving.
Defective products lead to numerous wrongful death claims each year. Most consumer products producers are responsible for ensuring consumer safety as long as their products are used as intended. Some products are inherently dangerous, but other times, a consumer product can have a fatal defect. For example, a cooking utensil that leaches deadly chemicals into food as it is used as intended can lead to a wrongful death claim against a manufacturer.
Similarly, a safety feature in a vehicle that doesn’t work properly, like a seatbelt that comes unbuckled easily in an accident, can easily cause fatal injuries and leave the manufacturer liable for wrongful death claims. Even an inherently dangerous consumer product, such as a gun, comes with an assumption of safety with proper use. A defective part in a gun that causes a chambered round to go off without the user pulling the trigger can easily lead to a wrongful death claim.
When a manufacturer of goods is made aware of a dangerous defect in their product, they are responsible for notifying the public of that defect and recalling any defective products. They are also responsible for replacing those products free of charge.
Boeing became responsible for numerous wrongful death claims after a design flaw caused some of their 737 Max commercial aircraft to crash in 2018. Since then, in addition to settling wrongful death claims, Boeing has recalled and replaced all of the affected 737 Max airplanes.
If you want to keep track of any consumer product recalls to help ensure your safety, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the best place to do so. The CPSC website contains a database of all consumer product recalls. You can even subscribe to the CPSC to get a newsletter of product recalls relevant to you.
Unfortunately, many accidents happen in the workplace. While all employers must provide their employees with a safe workspace, some employers fail to do so. Even an employer who takes all necessary precautions can have a fatal accident occur at their workplace. In addition, some jobs and workspaces are more dangerous than others. For example, a construction site will typically be more dangerous than an average office.
While the vast majority of workplace injuries are nonfatal each year, the number of fatal injuries is still significant. Employers in the US reported 2.8 million nonfatal injuries in 2019. During the same period, however, a total of 5,333 workers died due to workplace injuries.
If a loved one dies after a workplace accident, you can file a claim through their employer’s workers’ compensation program. Most employers in the US are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance. However, if a loved one dies due to negligence by someone other than their employer or coworker, or if the employer did not carry workers’ compensation insurance, you may be able to seek additional compensation through a wrongful death claim.
Medical malpractice commonly gives rise to wrongful death claims. Medical malpractice is estimated to take roughly 250,000 lives each year. Generally speaking, medical malpractice occurs when an error in medical treatment leads to injury. If the patient dies due to a medical error, their loved ones are entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice wrongful death claim.
To file a successful wrongful death claim based on medical malpractice, one must prove that the death was caused by a medical provider’s mistake that amounts to a violation of the medical standard of care.
Another common source of wrongful death claims is pedestrian accidents. Unlike when a car strikes another vehicle, when a car strikes a pedestrian, the pedestrian does not have the protection that a vehicle offers. Thus, a pedestrian receives the full force of impact when a car strikes them. As a result, it is not uncommon for injuries to a pedestrian after being struck by a vehicle to be fatal. Fatal injuries to pedestrians have been on the rise over the past decade, taking more than 6,200 lives in 2018 alone. That’s one death roughly every hour-and-a-half.
Unless a pedestrian is negligently or recklessly walking in the middle of traffic when they are hit, courts typically consider a motorist who strikes a pedestrian to be acting negligently. Thus, in most situations, a motorist will be liable for a wrongful death claim if the pedestrian’s injuries are fatal.
While these causes of wrongful death are the most common, every situation is different. It is wise to discuss your case with an Evansville wrongful death lawyer.
Wrongful Death FAQ
How Do I Know I Have a Wrongful Death Case?
To bring a successful wrongful death claim and recover compensation for an untimely death, you must prove the deceased person, or the “decedent,” died due to another person’s negligence or wrongful act. Negligence has specific elements that an Evansville wrongful death lawyer can help you prove.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Evansville, IN?
When an adult dies, only the personal representative or executor of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The personal representative can be anyone the decedent named as their representative, but usually, it is a family member. If they had no dependents, the estate would bring the claim. The parents or legal guardians bring a claim when a child dies.
What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Various damages are available from a wrongful death lawsuit, depending on the claimant’s relationship with the deceased. Damages like medical bills and funeral and burial expenses are available to most wrongful death parties.
If they were married or had surviving dependents, additional compensation can be available for the loss of the decedent’s future earnings, loss of love, affection, care, guidance, and training. On the other hand, damages for grief or punitive damages are not available. Understanding all the damages available requires analysis by an Evansville wrongful death attorney.
What Is the Time Limit to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Indiana?
Wrongful death claims are subject to the Indiana Statute of Limitations, which allows two years from the decedent’s death to file a lawsuit. Several exceptions exist to the two-year rule, so ask your attorney whether an exception might apply to your case.
Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Case?
In a wrongful death case of an unmarried adult without dependents, compensation for medical bills, funeral, and burial expenses goes to the estate. Any remaining compensation goes to the decedent’s parents or non-dependent child (assuming they can prove they had a substantial relationship with them).
When the decedent is married or has any surviving dependents, the estate will claim any compensation related to funeral or burial costs and medical bills. The remaining compensation goes to the decedent’s surviving spouse, dependent children, or other dependent relatives.
Over 5 Decades of Experience
Knowledgeable, professional, and easy to talk with. Gerling Law Injury Attorneys provide a truly exemplary example of a metropolitan law firm who still cares for the welfare of the little guy who needs great representation!- Tresa H.
Should You Hire an Attorney to Help with Your Claim?
If you believe your loved one has died due to another’s negligence or intentional action, you should contact a wrongful death attorney in Evansville as soon as possible.
Wrongful death cases are unique and require the skill and expertise of a wrongful death attorney. Your attorney can first review your case and help determine whether the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death constitute wrongful death. If you have a wrongful death claim, your attorney can go over all legal options. Because every element of negligence must be satisfied to have a wrongful death claim, a wrongful death attorney will best know how to establish liability in your case.
A wrongful death lawyer in Evansville can also help calculate the right amount of damages in your case. Depending on your particular situation, your attorney will also be able to negotiate a settlement or take your case to trial.
Aside from being emotional, wrongful death cases can be challenging. Don’t try to handle this alone. Contact a wrongful death attorney to review your case.
Working with Gerling Law - Wrongful Death Attorneys Serving Evansville
For over 50 years, Gerling Law has worked alongside clients during the most trying times in pursuit of justice and fair compensation. Our team provides the highest quality legal representation while also showing great compassion and respect. We are committed to offering honest legal advice and fighting aggressively for the best possible outcome in every case.
If your loved one has been a victim of negligence, do not hesitate to contact our Evansville wrongful death attorneys at Gerling Law. You can expect to receive candid legal advice during your free case evaluation