How is Wrongful Death Compensation Calculated?

Posted in: Wrongful Death | Mar 27,2023

The sudden, unexpected passing of a loved one is among the most painful and difficult realities families can experience. The loss can also place a sudden financial burden on surviving family members, making their future uncertain. The deceased’s surviving family members may file a lawsuit for wrongful death damages for economic and emotional harm. However, the amount of wrongful death compensation will depend on several factors examined in this post.

What damages are available in a wrongful death lawsuit in Indiana?

A wrongful death lawsuit not only holds at-fault parties accountable for their actions but can also alleviate financial stress and give families the necessary resources to move forward. Applicable damages vary depending on the case and may include economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages may cover the following:

  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Medical and hospital bills
  • A portion of the decedent’s future earnings, upon which surviving beneficiaries relied for financial support
  • The value of the decedent’s household services and contributions
  • Costs related to administering the estate

Non-economic damages can include:

  • The loss of love, care, and guidance of a parent 
  • The loss of love, companionship, or affection of a spouse
  • The loss of love, companionship, or services of a child

Note that punitive damages intended to punish the person responsible for the wrongful death are not applicable under Indiana law. 

How are damages calculated in a wrongful death case?

While it’s impossible to place a monetary value on losing a loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit seeks to relieve families of the financial burdens associated with the loss and provide some measure of justice, security, and peace of mind. 

Wrongful death attorneys work closely with teams of experts to calculate the full extent of damages on a case-by-case basis. Leaving no stone unturned, your legal team should consider the deceased’s income, estimated future earning capacity and any benefits associated with their income, such as health or life insurance.

Other factors that go into these calculations include the decedent’s age, health, life expectancy, and the needs of surviving children and family members. For example, did the deceased person have many dependent children? Are those children infants or teenagers? Do any have special needs or potentially costly health conditions? If the decedent was a child, your legal team should also consider factors such as the cost of medical care necessitated by any wrongful actions that contributed to the child’s death, any uninsured debts for which parents are responsible, and the costs of psychiatric counseling for the parents or siblings. 

Is there a cap on wrongful death damages in Indiana?

Indiana’s wrongful death laws limit the damages recoverable in a wrongful death settlement. These limits, or damage caps, will vary depending on the nature of specific circumstances surrounding each case:

  • If the deceased individual was killed due to government negligence, damages are capped at $700,000. 
  • If the wrongful death was caused by medical negligence, damages are capped at $1,800,000.
  • If the deceased individual is an adult with no surviving spouse or dependent children, damages are capped at $300,000.
  • If the deceased is married, has any dependent children, and their death was not caused by governmental or medical negligence, there is no limit cap on potential damages awarded.
  • In the wrongful death of a child, there are no caps on compensation. Indiana law defines children as individuals under 20 years old—or 23 if also enrolled in school. 

Attorneys familiar with the complex details of Indiana’s wrongful death statutes can help inform you of any limits that may apply in your case and are necessary to ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled. 

Finding the Right Wrongful Death Representation: Montross Miller

One final, critical factor affecting how wrongful death compensation is awarded in your case is the law firm you choose to represent your family’s interests.

It takes highly skilled, experienced attorneys intimately familiar with wrongful death examples and accurately calculating cases’ available economic damages. Evaluating non-economic damages can be even more difficult and complex, but having the right legal team in your corner can bring peace of mind that some semblance of justice is attainable for your family. 

Contact the compassionate and experienced attorneys at Montross Miller today to schedule a complimentary, confidential case evaluation.