Question: What is the standard for showing dependency by an adult child or next of kin in a wrongful death case in the State of Indiana?
Answer: To prove dependency, it must be shown that a need or necessity of support existed on the part of the person alleged to be dependent … coupled with the contribution to such support by the deceased. See below.
To recover under Indiana’s Wrongful Death Statute, a child or next of kin must establish dependency by first showing a need for support and second, the decedent’s contribution to the support of the dependent. In determining whether a dependent is in need or there is a necessity for support from the decedent, courts cannot only look to the regular financial contributions made by the decedent to the dependent, but must also look to the emotional support provided by the decedent to the dependent. Indiana’s Wrongful Death Act also allows a dependent next of kin to recover for loss of acts of love, care and affection. Indiana law has long recognized recovery for emotional damages for spouses and dependent children.
Note, total dependency is not required for a plaintiff asserting a wrongful death claim to establish that he is the decedent’s dependent next of kin, as required to recover pecuniary damages related to the death by the wrongful death statute. A plaintiff may be partially dependent even though he could survive without the contribution made by the deceased.