Legal Memorandum: Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim in IN

Issue: What are the restrictions on damages in a wrongful death claim by nondependents under Indiana’s wrongful death statute, effective January 1, 2000?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Wrongful death claim; Damages for the death of an adult person; Wrongful act or omission
Jurisdiction: Indiana
Cited Cases: 603 N.E.2d 861
Cited Statutes: Ind. Code § 34-23-1-2(b), § 34-23-1-2(a), § 34-23-1-2(c), § 34-23-1-2(d), § 34-23-1-2(e), § 34-23-1-2(f), § 34-23-1-2(i)
Date: 09/01/2000

Under Indiana’s wrongful death statute, when an adult person’s death is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another person, the personal representative of the adult person may maintain an action against the person whose wrongful act or omission caused the adult person’s death.  Ind. Code § 34-23-1-2(b) (1999).    The statute defines “adult person” as an unmarried individual who has no dependents and is not a child.  Id. at § 34-23-1-2(a).

If, however, the adult person’s death is caused by a health care provider, a wrongful death claim is not exclusively within the ambit of the wrongful death statute.  See Miller v. Terre Haute Regional Hosp., 603 N.E.2d 861, 864 (Ind. 1992).  Such a claim is properly brought under the Medical Malpractice Act.  See id. at 864.

In a claim to recover damages for the death of an adult person, the damages:

(1)      must be in an amount determined by a:

(A)   court; or

(B)   jury

(2)         may not include:

(A)   damages awarded for a person’s grief; or

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