South Bend Wrongful Death Lawyer
If you have reason to believe your loved one’s death was caused by another’s negligence, you may be able to file a legal claim to seek compensation for medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages and benefits, and other losses.
At Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak, we have helped of many families pursue the compensation they need, and we have secured millions on their behalf. A South Bend wrongful death lawyer from our firm is prepared to review your situation during a free initial consultation.
Founding partner Daniel Pfeifer is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, which is composed of less than one percent of U.S. trial lawyers.
You are under no obligation to take legal action and you pay nothing up front to retain our services. Zero fees are collected unless we help you obtain a recovery.
Call (844) 678-1800 today. We are here to help.
How a Wrongful Death is Defined in Indiana
Under state law, a wrongful death is defined as a death that is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another. A wrongful death claim is considered a civil lawsuit. These cases can proceed to court if the deceased person would have been able to file a personal injury claim had he or she survived, even if the death is the subject of a criminal investigation.
A wrongful death can be caused by many different situations, such as:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Defective products
- Truck accidents
- Slip and falls
There may be more than one individual or entity liable for a wrongful death. For example, a fatal car accident caused by vehicle failure may be the responsibility of the manufacturer and the driver, as the driver could have fixed the problem before a collision occurred.
Can Family Members File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Indiana, a wrongful death lawsuit needs to be filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. The estate representative is appointed by the court and is often the deceased person’s surviving:
- Adult child
Any damages that are recovered are awarded to the deceased person’s spouse, children or anyone who was financially dependent on the deceased should there be no children or spouse. If the deceased had no spouse, minor children or other dependents, damages would be awarded to his or her parents or adult children. These individuals would be beneficiaries of the estate.
What If the Deceased is a Child?
If the deceased person is a child, one or both parents may file a wrongful death lawsuit. A child is considered anyone under 20 years old or under 23 years old and enrolled in some type of schooling.
If both parents are divorced, the parent with legal custody of the child can file. Should both parents be deceased, or their parental rights have been taken away, the case would need to be filed by the child’s legal guardian at the time of his or her death.
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can be complex. That is why we recommend speaking with one of our experienced South Bend wrongful death lawyers about your rights and legal options.
Benefits of Hiring a Wrongful Death Lawyer
Building a successful wrongful death case is not any easy task. Having a knowledgeable and dedicated lawyer by your side to help you navigate the legal process can be beneficial during this difficult time.
Our legal team is well-versed in wrongful death statutes and what it takes to protect your potential case. We know what deadlines need to be met and are ready to help make sure that any legal documents are properly completed and filed in a timely manner. Failure to meet deadlines could jeopardize the case.
We have many decades of experience helping victims throughout the South Bend area and across the state. We know how a wrongful death can affect loves ones and family members financially. Our firm is proud to work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning you only pay us if we obtain compensation for you.
We also offer a free initial consultation to review your claim and determine whether you are eligible to file a lawsuit. Even after this meeting, you are under no obligation to move forward with our services.
Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak. No Upfront Fees. Ph: (844) 678-1800
What Damages Are Available in A Wrongful Death Case?
Each wrongful death case is unique. Damages are meant to compensate the estate and provide relief to family members who are suffering financial losses due to the death of their loved one.
Generally, damages available for a wrongful death could include:
- Funeral, burial and/or cremation expenses
- Loss of income, benefits and financial support
- Loss of affection, companionship, guidance and care
Damages for funeral and burial costs are paid to the estate. Otherwise, damages are divided up among any surviving family members or other dependents of the deceased in a manner decided by the court.
It is important to note that some wrongful death cases have limits or caps on damages. If the deceased person was an adult, unmarried and had no minor children, non-economic damages (i.e. loss of love and affection), would be capped at $300,000.
There is no cap on damages if the deceased was an adult with a spouse or surviving children, or if the deceased was a child, unless it involves medical malpractice or a government entity.
To learn what your potential case may be worth, consult our blog on wrongful death damages.
Recovering Damages in a Survival Action
In Indiana, filing a survival action is different from filing a wrongful death lawsuit. While a wrongful death case seeks to compensate families for losses incurred after or because of a loved one’s death, a survival action compensates families for damages their loved one incurred before death.
Damages that may be sought in a survival action by the representative of the estate include:
- Medical expenses from related hospitalization and treatment until his or her death
- Lost wages from the time of the accident until his or her death
- Personal property damage
- Pain and suffering experienced
Time Limit for Taking Legal Action
The state adheres to a statute of limitations, which is a specific limit given to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the lawsuit is not filed within this time limit, the case will likely result in a court dismissal.
You typically have two years from the date of death to take legal action. There may be exceptions to this rule. Our South Bend wrongful death attorneys are prepared to determine the time limit that applies to your situation and ensure that a lawsuit is filed before the two-year window is closed.
Helpful Resources After the Sudden Loss of a Loved One
The sudden loss of a loved one is devastating experience. There are, however, resources out there to help families during such difficult times. Aside from the support of relatives or friends, support can also be found from several support groups and grief counseling organizations.
The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) provides a list of statewide bereavement resources, including a 13-week program called GriefShare, which helps those who have lost someone learn how to understand their grief. Seminars and support groups are led by people with shared experiences.
The Bereavement Committee at the Beacon Children’s Hospital in South Bend offers in-person and online resources for anyone who has suffered the loss of a child.
Indiana University South Bend also provides grief and loss counseling services to help students deal with the death of a loved one.
Contact a South Bend Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If you have lost a loved due to the negligence of another, we encourage you to reach out to Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak. We believe that anyone who has harmed you and your family should be held liable for their actions. Our firm has recovered millions in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients.
Request a free, no-obligation legal consultation with a South Bend wrongful death attorney today. After this initial meeting, you are under no obligation to take legal action. If you do decide to move forward, we do not charge any upfront fees. You only pay if we help you obtain compensation.
Our office is also conveniently located about 10 minutes from Memorial Hospital of South Bend.
Get the Legal Help You Need. Ph: (844) 678-1800