I was saddened to read of the death of a 20 year old Notre Dame student who was killed on Oct. 27, 2010 when a camera tower from which the young man was filming a football practice for the University collapsed during high winds. A recent article in Forbes magazine regarding this tragic incident noted that a wrongful death claim might well be made by the young man’s surviving parents against the University. Whether such a claim will be asserted is unknown and of course is a private matter for the young man’s family.
However, I thought it was interesting to note that until 1988, any wrongful death claim on behalf of this young man would have been limited to only final medical and funeral expenses. As amazing as it sounds now, Indiana did not recognize a claim for the death of a child until 1988. Even if a child had been killed by a drunk driver or even murdered, the surviving parents could only recover final medical and burial expenses, but nothing more.
Fortunately, this rather barbaric state of the law in Indiana was corrected in 1988 when Indiana’s legislature enacted a Child Wrongful Death Statute which is found at Indiana Code 34-23-2-1. This statute establishes a claim for wrongful death on behalf of a child’s surviving parents which includes compensation for final medical and burial expenses, the cost of psychiatric or psychological counseling for the parents or siblings, and for the loss of the child’s love and companionship until the death of the last surviving parent.
Under this statute, a “child” is defined as an individual who is less than 20 years of age, or less than 23 years old if the child was enrolled in college or in a vocational school or training program at the time of their death.
In my next blog, I will discuss what rights the surviving parents have when the person who was killed was not a “child” as defined this statute and had no dependents.
If you’ve been injured in a serious accident, or lost a loved one, hiring an attorney who knows what questions to ask can make all the difference regarding what financial recovery you will receive. Please call the offices of Indiana wrongful death attorney James Ludlow at 1-877-897-9466 or submit the simple form on the Contact Us page for a free case evaluation and put my experience and knowledge to work for you.