A person’s untimely demise due to the misconduct or negligence of another may raise a claim of wrongful death. Though the extended family or even an entire community can suffer from the loss of an individual, only a personal representative can file a wrongful death claim in Indiana.
Potential plaintiffs in such a suit should understand who has the right to serve as a personal representative of the deceased.
Determining a personal representative
Indiana state law seeks to simplify who can pursue a wrongful death claim by dictating that only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate has the authority to file. An individual’s last will and testament should outline who is the executor (or representative) of an estate in the case of a person’s death or incapacitation. The executor must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. Also, executors cannot have any felony convictions.
The personal representative is responsible for caring for the decedent’s assets, paying liabilities and distributing an inheritance. If there is no will, the court decides who is a personal representative of the estate. Though the personal representative files the suit, the damages typically go to the next of kin.
Filing for children
If the deceased is a child, the parents can file a suit, even if they are not over the child’s estate. The parent with legal custody may file if the parents are not together. The child’s legal guardian would file in cases where the parents are dead or do not retain parental rights.
The claims for wrongful death are to assist people who had something to lose at someone’s death, and the law intends for a responsible person to file the lawsuit. Thus, selecting a personal representative is a weighty matter.