If you have a loved one who recently died as a result of injuries caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf. In such a case, the plaintiff is a person representing the deceased person’s estate, and any money earned from judgments or settlements in the case would be distributed to certain estate heirs.
Here’s an overview of what you should know about filing a wrongful death claim or survival action in Louisiana.
What qualifies as a wrongful death lawsuit?
For your case to be eligible for a wrongful death lawsuit, there are several elements that must be present:
Your loved one died as a result of another person’s negligence, or another person’s intent to cause them harm
Surviving family members of the deceased suffered financial harm as a result of their death
To be successful in the case, you will then need to prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, that the defendant breached that duty and that the breach of that duty caused the accident and resulting fatalities. For example, in a car accident, all drivers owe a duty of care to everyone else who shares the road with them—the expectation is everyone follows the rules of the road and drives reasonably safely. Breaking the rules of the road or driving recklessly are examples of breaches of that duty.
How much is a wrongful death lawsuit worth?
The amount of compensation you can expect from a wrongful death lawsuit will vary depending on the factors present in the case. These factors can include medical expenses incurred, burial expenses, amount of future financial support lost, the age and health of the deceased, and any aggravating factors (such as presence of alcohol or drugs, or wanton disregard for safety).
Can a family member sue for wrongful death?
The designated beneficiary who can file a wrongful death suit may or may not be an immediate family member. Most commonly the person who serves as the personal representative for the deceased’s estate will serve as the plaintiff in the wrongful death, and operate on behalf of family members and friends who suffered the loss. This person could be a family member, a trusted friend, an attorney or a business associate.
What damages are awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit?
There are a couple categories of damages available in wrongful death lawsuits.
First, there is compensation for damages experienced by the deceased from the time of the negligent act that caused the death until the death itself. This could include all of the medical bills incurred and pain and suffering a person experienced during that time. Other common examples include lost wages and funeral and burial expenses.
The second category is losses experienced by the victim’s loved ones after their death. This category of damages is meant to compensate family members for their losses and hardship. This includes lost future wages and benefits, as well as family members’ pain and suffering and loss of consortium.
For more information about filing a wrongful death claim after the death of a loved one, contact Mark Artall – an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Lafayette, LA.