It is normal for family members to want justice when a loved one dies in a tragic and preventable way. Although the state can prosecute individuals who cause someone’s death as a result of criminal wrongdoing, conviction isn’t a guarantee. Additionally, many deaths occur in ways that cannot be addressed by the criminal courts. As a result of both of these realities, surviving loved ones often turn to the civil courts in their pursuit of justice.
Car crashes, criminal activity and even unsafe property ownership habits could provide grounds upon which a wrongful death lawsuit could be filed under Indiana state law. Such claims can help cover the costs generated by someone’s untimely death and can be a source of justice for the surviving family members.
However, not every early and unexpected death actually qualifies as a wrongful death under state law. What two criteria are necessary for a situation to qualify as potentially successful grounds upon which to file a wrongful death lawsuit?
1. Evidence of negligence or misconduct
For there to be grounds for a wrongful death claim, those grieving a recent loss typically need some kind of evidence that helps prove that negligence or misconduct led to their loved one dying. Carelessness, intentional wrongdoing, omissions and negligence could all lead to wrongful death lawsuits.
Security camera footage, medical records, contracts or even expert testimony may be necessary to convince the courts that the actions or omissions of one party are directly responsible for someone dying. Thankfully, the standard of evidence is lower in the civil courts than in the criminal courts, which means plaintiffs have a chance of success even if the state declined to bring charges.
2. Economic losses
Technically, wrongful death claims can involve claims for both economic and non-economic losses. However, for families to demand justice, they typically need to have some proof that the actions of one party led to actual financial consequences.
Lost wages, funeral expenses and other financial consequences can all contribute to the value of someone’s wrongful death lawsuit. The age and marital status of the deceased party will determine if any caps on compensation apply.
Families need to abide by all state laws and have documentation supporting the claims that they make in civil court. Learning more about wrongful death lawsuits and seeking legal guidance can benefit those who are grieving the preventable loss of a family member.