A wrongful death claim seeks compensation when “a person dies due to the fault of another.” The death may be by the fault of another human being, or an entity like a corporation, and may be caused by anything from negligence, to recklessness, to intentional conduct. Common examples of wrongful death accidents could be a car accident, death via a broken or malfunctioning piece of equipment, or drunk driving. A wrongful death can often involve a medical component such as incorrect diagnoses, medication or treatment. In certain circumstances, even homicide can be cited in a wrongful death lawsuit. For a wrongful death suit to be successful, the following elements must be present:
- Death of a human
- Death was caused by another person’s wrongdoing
- The surviving family members bringing the lawsuit suffered a financial hardship due to the death
Louisiana law is very specific about who may bring a wrongful death claim to court. Plaintiffs are eligible in this order:
- the surviving spouse or children
- the surviving parent or parents (unless the parent(s) abandoned the deceased when the deceased was a child)
- the surviving siblings of the deceased person, or
- the surviving grandparents of the deceased person
- If there is no surviving family at all, then the deceased person’s estate may bring the claim to court.
Louisiana’s statute of limitations for wrongful death gives the surviving family members or personal representative one year to file a wrongful death claim in court, usually starting from the date of the deceased person’s death.
Damages in a wrongful death claim may cover both “economic” and “noneconomic” losses. “Economic” losses include measurable loss such as:
- funeral and burial expenses
- medical bills
- lost wages and benefits
- value of lost household services, and
- bills for damaged property.
“Noneconomic” losses are losses suffered as the result of a wrongful death, but that can’t be established with evidence like a bill or receipt such as:
- the pain and suffering the deceased person suffered in his or her final moments, and
- the loss of care, companionship, guidance, and emotional support suffered by family members because of the untimely death.
A jury will decide if the family should be awarded money. The jury will also decide the amount of money awarded. However, the judge ultimately can decide the final amount of monetary damages. Do not confuse a wrongful death claim with a criminal case. A criminal case is filed by the prosecutor’s office, while a wrongful death claim is filed by the family members. In the criminal case, guilt is punished with penalties like jail or prison time, probation, or fines, while in the wrongful death case, liability is expressed in terms of money damages. Our attorneys here in Ruston can help you understand how these two types of cases may influence one another.
When considering bringing a wrongful death lawsuit, it is extremely important to consult with a trusted attorney. While your family is suffering from the loss of a loved one, consult a trusted and experienced attorney to help to mitigate your loss. A loved one can never be replaced, but a wrongful death lawsuit may bring additional closure to a difficult situation. If you believe a family was a victim of a wrongful death, please contact our office today and schedule a consultation. The Law Office of W. Kyle Green are very experienced in these cases and we would like to help your family pursue the negligent parties.
W. Kyle Green
Address: 308 N Vienna St., Ruston, LA
The Law Office of W. Kyle Green has served as lead counsel for multi-million dollar litigation for both Plaintiffs and Defendants. We also handle a wide range of general civil matters for clients across the state.
308 N. Vienna St.
Ruston, LA 71270
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