If you’ve lost a loved one, you know it’s one of the hardest experiences to go through. And it’s even more devastating when the death is sudden. There’s the emotional trauma of never seeing them again, along with the financial burden of funeral costs, lost wages, and more. Even worse yet? If your loved one lost their life due to the negligence of someone else.
That’s why wrongful death lawsuits have been put in place to fight for your rights regarding compensation due to someone’s negligence. However, before you file a wrongful death lawsuit in Louisiana, you should know the specifics of a wrongful death claim, which falls under the larger umbrella of personal injury litigation. What is a wrongful death? Who can file a wrongful death claim? What are the damages you can receive compensation for? How long do you have to submit a wrongful death injury claim? Let’s start with the basics.
What is Considered a Wrongful Death in Louisiana?
A wrongful death refers to any death caused by someone’s negligence or misconduct, including auto accidents, unsafe premises, defective or dangerous products, workplace accidents, dog attacks, abuse, neglect, assault and battery, or medical malpractice. In lawyer speak, a wrongful death is “when a person dies due to the fault of another.”
The law specifies a wrongful death as being caused by either another human being or the result of wrongdoing by a corporate entity. One major difference between a wrongful death claim and a criminal homicide prosecution is the defendant’s liability in a successful wrongful death case is expressed solely in terms of financial compensation or damages that are paid to the deceased person’s survivors. A conviction with a criminal homicide case can result in jail or prison time, fines paid to the state, probation, and other penalties.
Who is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Louisiana, family members of a specific order are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit, depending on the circumstances. A surviving spouse or children have the first right to file a claim. If they are no longer living or unable to file, the surviving parents have the right to a wrongful death suit. After the parents, surviving siblings, and if there are no surviving siblings, the surviving grandparents would then be eligible. In the event the deceased person does not have any surviving family members, the estate representative may have the right to file a survival action. There are still variables that make determining who can file difficult, so it’s best to consult with an attorney to figure out the specifics.
Damages in a Louisiana Wrongful Death Case
Damages are typically defined as the claimed losses of the plaintiff and are intended to compensate the surviving family members for their loved one’s death. Damages in a Louisiana wrongful death case fall into two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic losses are usually measurable and can include things like funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, lost earnings and benefits, and the value of household services the deceased person would have provided.
Non-economic losses are not measurable and are hard to quantify when it comes to compensation. These include survivors’ grief and anguish, the loss of care, companionship, guidance, and emotional support. Although financial compensation won’t heal emotional trauma, it would help to alleviate the financial pressure that comes from the economic losses.
How Long Can You File a Wrongful Death Claim in Louisiana?
Each state has a law called a “statute of limitations” that dictates how long survivors have to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Louisiana, time is of the essence to file a wrongful death claim as you only have exactly one year after your loved one’s death to file. You must file a claim by this deadline to ensure your case is recognized. You’ll want to file your claim early to avoid any unnecessary legal conflicts.
Do You Have a Wrongful Death Case? Contact Us Today.
If your loved one has died as a result of negligence or misconduct and you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.