Losing a member of your family in a pedestrian accident can destroy the family members left behind. Family members are are forced to undertake medical and funeral costs associated with the accident. Additionally, family members have to overcome the lack of income, grief and the emotional toll associated with their loved one's passing. When these accidents happen, it is important that the members of family learn their legal rights under Indiana law.
What You Need to Know After Your Loved One is Killed in a Pedestrian Accident
The first thing you need to understand is that a wrongful death matter is civil in nature and is not a criminal case. In a civil matter, the representative of the deceased (the person who passed away) brings the claim on behalf of the survivors or family members. This is different than a criminal case, where the prosecutor, on behalf of the state, brings a case against the driver, if they believe a crime happened at the time of the incident.
If a court finds that the driver committed a crime when your loved one died, the defendant can go to prison, jail, or pay hefty fines. the criminal justice system addresses injury to society, but it will not provide money for your family's loses.
In order to receive fair compensation because of your loved one's passing, you will need to bring a civil case, also caused a wrongful death claim.
If you are thinking about filing a wrongful death claim, you need to understand that a wrongful death claim is not dependent on criminal charges. The purpose of the criminal law system to redress a wrong to society. On the other hand, the purpose of a wrongful death claim is redress a wrong to the loved ones/dependents of the person who passed away.
You may be asking how can you bring a wrongful death claim if the person wasn't charged criminally. The criminal law has a much different burden then the civil law. In the criminal context, the state has to show that the defendant committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In the civil law or wrongful death context, the personal representative has to show that the driver was negligent by a preponderance of the evidence.
A wrongful death case is an injury case. Indiana allows an injury victim bring a legal claim for compensation because of a harm that occurred, in this context death. A wrongful death claim is a special type of personal injury case, in which the injured person's representative is able to bring a claim on behalf of the all the family members that are entitled to receive compensation under the law.
Generally, in Indiana, only the personal representative or administrator appointed by a court is able to bring a wrongful death claim.
A wrongful death claim focuses the negligence of the driver that hit the pedestrian, not whether the driver intended to hurt some (criminal intent). This means that the driver can be held responsible for the death because he or she had a brain fart or made a just made a mistake.
You only have two years to file a wrongful death claim. This time restriction is called that statute of limitations. If the case is not filed within 2-years of the death, the claim is forever barred.
Should you have any questions about an Indiana wrongful death claim, call Guy DiMartino Law at (219) 690-8997.