Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The loss of a loved one is a devastating event that stays with you for the rest of your life. Your loved one played a huge role in your life, and their loss is something you likely feel throughout many parts of your day. While it is important to take the time to grieve and come to terms with your loss, it is equally important to ensure the responsible parties are held accountable for their actions.
In Louisiana, certain individuals may file wrongful death lawsuits against the responsible parties. At Jones & Hill, we recognize that no amount of financial compensation can make up for your loss and taking legal action will not bring your loved one back. However, a successful claim can not only help ensure that justice is served, but it can also provide you and your family with the financial resources you need to heal.
If you would like to discuss your potential case with one of our Louisiana wrongful death lawyers, call 1-888-481-1333 today. There is no cost and no obligation to you for this consultation.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Louisiana defines “wrongful death” as any death that occurs “due to the fault of another.” Often, this involves cases in which an individual dies because another person acted negligently, carelessly, recklessly, or even intentional. Motor vehicle accidents, medical negligence, and even criminal acts of violence can all give rise to wrongful death actions.
Wrongful death claims can also be brought against corporations, businesses, manufacturers, and other entities that cause deaths due to negligence, wrongful practices, or in cases in which they are strictly liable. For example, a manufacturer that creates and distributes a defective pharmaceutical drug could be held legally liable if someone dies after taking the medication.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Louisiana?
Louisiana’s wrongful death statute provides survivors with a sense of recourse after an accident or act of negligence takes their loved one from them. Louisiana law allows certain survivors to bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of the person who died (known as the “decedent”).
These individuals include (in order):
- The surviving spouse
- A surviving child
- The decedent’s parent(s)
- The decedent’s sibling
To successfully file a claim, one must prove that the decedent’s death was the result of negligent or wrongful conduct. This often involves proving that another person or party had a duty of care to the decedent but failed to uphold that duty of care, resulting in death. The party bringing the claim must also typically prove that they suffered measurable economic and/or intangible losses as a result of their loved one’s death.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Claims
Many accidents and catastrophic events give rise to wrongful death actions. Essentially, any time the decedent would have had grounds to file a personal injury claim had he or she lived, the eligible surviving family members may bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful death actions are often brought after the following:
If you are unsure whether you have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit, reach out to our firm today. For over 35 years, Jones & Hill has been representing families in Lake Charles, Alexandria, Oakdale, Oberlin, and the entire state of Louisiana, helping them pursue justice and secure fair financial compensation for their losses. Our team is ready to fight for you and your family.
Louisiana’s Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
Louisiana has one of the shortest statutes of limitations when it comes to wrongful death claims. Under Louisiana Civil Code 2315.2 (B), surviving loved ones have only one year from the date of the accident/death to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable party. In the case where the death is caused by an act of violence, Louisiana Civil Code 3493.10, surviving loved ones have two years to initiate a claim in civil court. Either way, this is not a long time and can pass quickly.
It is important to contact a law firm right away after your loved one’s death to learn more about your legal rights and options. If you fail to file a claim within one year of the date of your family member’s death, you will almost certainly lose your right to recover damages.
We encourage you to contact our Louisiana wrongful death attorneys today to learn whether you may have a case. The sooner we can begin investigating your claim and building your case, the better.
Types of Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
Nothing can ever truly compensate you for the loss of your loved one. In the wake of their death, however, you may find yourself struggling to cope not only with the immense grief you are feeling but also the unexpected financial hardships associated with your loss. If your loved one needed medical care prior to his or her death, you could find yourself facing massive medical bills. If he or she contributed to your household income, you may struggle to keep up with everyday expenses. And, of course, there are all the intangible things your loved one provided that you have lost, such as love, companionship, support, and other services.
The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is twofold: to both bring a sense of justice and closure to the family and, more specifically, to compensate surviving loved ones for the economic and non-economic losses they endure as a result of their family member’s death.
A claim stemming from a wrongful death action may seek compensation for the following types of damages:
- Medical costs associated with the decedent’s final treatment/care
- Funeral/burial expenses
- Lost wages (future earnings that the survivor will be unable to receive)
- Loss of companionship, consortium, counsel, guidance, love, and support
- Emotional distress suffered by the survivors
The loss of a loved one has more than just an emotional impact on your family—it can also have significant financial repercussions. If your loved one was the sole or primary provider for the family, their loss could have an immediate impact.
Unfortunately, the insurance company is not there to help you get back on your feet. In fact, they may try to coerce you into accepting a settlement that will provide immediate funds to your family. While this can seem like an ideal way to receive relief and closure, the truth of the matter is that the insurance company wants you to accept a low initial settlement so that they do not have to compensate you for the full value of your losses. After the accident, it is important to keep in mind that insurance companies will often settle for far less than your claim is worth.
Louisiana Wrongful Death FAQ
Pursuing a wrongful death claim can be a confusing, intimidating, and highly emotional experience that will almost always come with several questions. Our Louisiana wrongful death attorneys have compiled some answers to frequently asked questions to help guide you through this difficult time.
Is there a cap on wrongful death damages in Louisiana?
In general, no. There is no statutory limit to the amount of compensation that may be awarded in a wrongful death case in Louisiana. The only exception to this is a cap of $500,000 on medical malpractice damages against government agencies. It is recommended you speak to an attorney from our firm if you are unsure if there is a limit that applies to your case.
How much is a wrongful death case worth?
Unfortunately, there is no way to accurately predict the value of your wrongful death case without discussing your situation in detail with an attorney. Your eligible damages will be based on factors like the nature of your loved one’s death, their age, income, final medical expenses, funeral costs, the circumstances of dependents and the value of of lost benefits, and the level of evidence proving the at-fault party’s liability. It takes a consultation with an attorney to find out more about what your specific case could be worth. Only a lawyer can give you a rough idea of its value, supported by evidence.
How long will it take to resolve a wrongful death case?
Just as every case has a unique value, there is no way to accurately predict the timeline of a wrongful death case. Every case is unique and must be treated as such. Some cases with clear liability can settle in a matter of months, while others may require years of litigation to reach a verdict. The length of time needed to resolve your case will vary depending on the defendant’s willingness to negotiate a settlement, or if your case needs to go to trial. Whatever the case may be, our attorneys will take the approach that maximizes your chances of securing a favorable outcome.