While no lawsuit can ever possibly bring your loved one back, filing a wrongful death suit can protect your family financially as you deal with the emotional fallout of such a devasting loss. A civil wrongful death trial can only be initiated by specific parties in Louisiana, however. If a beloved family member recently passed away, an attorney can investigate the accident and help you seek damages from the at-fault party responsible for the tragedy.
Potential Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Under state law, victims of accidents caused by negligent behavior are allowed to recoup costs associated with the injury. In situations where the victim dies, either at the scene or later as a result of their injuries, the family can sue the person or entity who failed to uphold their basic duty of care and caused the accident. Wrongful death typically applies in situations of:
- Negligence, like a distracted driver causing a fatal crash, a company releasing a dangerous product that hurts consumers, or an employer who fails to take steps to protect employees from harm
- Malpractice on the part of medical staff
- Intentional acts such as a violent crime
While the latter type of case may result in a criminal trial that could see the at-fault party receive prison time, that won’t help with your financial situation. A criminal conviction can offer closure, but it won’t take care of the bills piling up after the death of the family breadwinner. That’s why you need to speak with an attorney after a loved one is killed by any sort of negligent behavior, whether they died in a slip and fall accident, a vehicle collision, or by using a dangerous product.
Civil and criminal cases feature differing levels of evidence needed to establish guilt. A criminal prosecution for a murder requires evidence beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction. However, civil wrongful death suits instead rely on what’s known as a “preponderance” of evidence.
In this type of case, your attorney gathers and presents evidence to a jury showing it is more likely than not that the defendant’s negligence led to your loved one’s death. If that person hadn’t driven recklessly or that trucking company hadn’t failed to fix the breaks on their vehicles, for instance, your family member would still be alive. The end goal of the lawsuit is to seek damages from the negligent party covering:
- An estimation of the value of lost household services provided by the deceased
- Burial and funeral costs
- Lost benefits and earning potential from the deceased
- Medical bills for the deceased
- Non-economic damages for the survivor filing the suit, covering emotional issues like anguish, grief, and loss of companionship
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit
Unfortunately, the laws surrounding wrongful death have several potential pitfalls you need to know about ahead of time. First and foremost is the time limit established by the statute of limitations. You only have one single year from the date of your loved one’s passing to file a wrongful death suit, which is why it is important to contact a lawyer early.
Who can file the suit may also cause a stumbling block in the process. Usually, the closest living relative must bring the suit, but there is a specific order that must be followed under Louisiana law. A wrongful death lawsuit can specifically be brought by:
- Children (adopted or blood-related)
- Parents, if the deceased had no spouse or surviving children
- Siblings, if there are no surviving parents
- Grandparents, if there are no surviving siblings
The bottom line is that if someone you cared about passed away, and you suspect their death could have been avoided, you need to talk with an attorney as soon as possible, no matter how you were related.
Get The Answers You Need From an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney
Our team of trial-ready professionals has a passion for protecting the legal rights of surviving victims. Schedule a consultation today to speak with an attorney about the circumstances of your loved one’s death. We want to hear about your situation and help you find the best path towards holding the negligent party responsible.