How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

wrongful death settlements

Surviving the loss of a loved one is hard enough already. When that loss was caused by someone else’s negligence, the pain can be unbearable. 

Dealing with the death of a loved one may also be accompanied by financial strain, emotional burdens, and major life changes for you and other survivors. 

Even if you received some benefits through your loved one’s life insurance policy, you may still need additional compensation for both the emotional and financial burden of your loss. A wrongful death lawsuit may be the best way to receive compensation for your losses. 

Wrongful death lawsuits are complicated. Working with an experienced wrongful death attorney will ensure that the process is as painless and stress-free as possible. 

How to Obtain a Wrongful Death Settlement

Wrongful death lawsuits are governed by the Indiana legal code. Specifically, Indiana Code 34-23-1 offers the following definition of wrongful death: “The death of one is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another.” 

Wrongful death lawsuits are similar to personal injury lawsuits, but the injured party died, and the compensation will go to their loved ones. 

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In Indiana, wrongful death claims must be filed 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.”

What does that mean? 

In the event of a child decedent, the parents are typically the only ones who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the parents are not married or divorced, the parent with legal custody may file the claim. If a child dies and both of his or her parents are deceased or have had their parental rights terminated, the child’s guardian may file the claim. 

Indiana law states that a child is:

  • Any unmarried person without dependents, under the age of 20 years old
  • An unmarried person without dependents, under the age of 23 who is also enrolled in college, a career or technical school, or another program
  • A fetus that has reached viability 

In the event of an adult decedent, only the executor of the deceased adult’s estate is allowed to file a claim. If a person dies in a wrongful death event and does not have a specified executor (also called a “personal representative”), the court may appoint one. 

What if The Decedent Has No Spouse, Dependent Children, or Dependent Next of Kin?

If the decedent has no clear beneficiaries in the form of a spouse, dependent children, or dependent next of kin, Indiana law governs the ways that third parties can receive funds from the estate. 

Indiana statutes also govern any payments to lawyers for both attorney’s fees and costs associated with administering the estate. 

Who Pays the Compensation? 

After a successful wrongful death lawsuit, the person who caused the death is responsible for paying the survivors the determined compensation

Sometimes, wrongful death is not the result of a specific individual, but rather, an organization, business, group, government agency, or other legal entity. In this case, the entity can be held accountable and will be required to pay the compensation just like an individual would. 

Typically, the compensation is paid by the insurance company that holds the negligent party’s liability insurance. If the person or group does not have insurance, they will be personally responsible for the full amount of the settlement. 

What if Insurance Doesn’t Cover Enough of the Settlement?

Insurance companies typically have a maximum payout amount that limits how much they will pay. What happens if the settlement amount is higher than that maximum?

The negligent party will need to pay the rest of the settlement on their own, out of pocket. 

Additionally, the court may order that an individual who can’t pay out of pocket must sell assets or have their wages garnished until the settlement amount is covered.

Can I Sue Multiple Parties?

Yes, it is possible to sue multiple parties, if multiple parties’ negligence caused the death of your loved one.

You are more likely to get a more appropriate wrongful death lawsuit payout if you can identify every party who played a part in the decedent’s death. 

How Much is the Average Wrongful Death Settlement?  

Many of our clients what to know, “What is the average payout in a wrongful death suit?”

The amount of compensation is dependent upon many complicated factors. The best way to get an idea of what your compensation could be is to speak to a wrongful death attorney. 

Compensation for damages may include: 

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • End-of-life medical treatment
  • Pain and suffering of the decedent
  • Survivors’ loss of companionship and guidance
  • Lost earnings and wages
  • Loss of future inheritance
  • Attorney’s fees 

Some of the factors that influence the total include the decedent’s age, education level, life expectancy, earning capacity, state of health, and income at the time of their death. Additionally, the dependents’ ages and circumstances can play a role. 

Important Definitions in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Here are some of the important concepts you need to be aware of if you are going to file a wrongful death lawsuit: 

Negligence: The victim’s death was caused, entirely or in part, by “recklessness, carelessness, or negligent actions of the defending party”

Breach of Duty: The defendant in the lawsuit owed a duty of care to the victim, and failed to fulfill that duty

Causation: Your lawyer must prove that the defendant’s negligence caused the death 

Damages: The death of the victim has caused quantifiable monetary damages (such as hospital bills, funeral expenses, and loss of income), and may also have caused pain and suffering that the victim experienced

Poynter & Bucheri – Indianapolis Wrongful Death Lawyers

Poynter & Bucheri have been supporting the survivors of wrongful death lawsuits for years. We know how difficult it is to go through this horrible time in your life, and we don’t want you to experience any additional suffering. 

Contact our experienced Indianapolis personal injury lawyers by calling 1-800-265-9881 for a free consultation. Our goal is to fight for your rights and those of your loved ones by providing you with a smooth legal process. You have the right to hold the individual or entity who caused your loved one’s death responsible for their negligence. 

We give you a voice in the Indiana legal system, and we help you get every penny you deserve.