Does Indiana’s General Wrongful Death Statute Permit Recovery of Attorney Fees? Court Says, ‘Yes’


This week's discussion looks at a case addressing a novel argument under the Indiana General Wrongful Death Statute that argued attorney fees are only available to decedents without dependents. The Court of Appeals found the statute ambiguous and, applying doctrines of interpretation, held that attorney fees are available to both decedents with and without dependents. Perhaps of greater import, the case looked to whether a contingency fee agreement between plaintiff and its counsel provides the fees to be assessed or whether a reasonable-hourly rate was to be applied. Somewhat surprisingly, the court found the contingency fee agreement to control. The full application of this decision seems certain to be the basis for a great many arguments in the future.

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