Seeking Compensation For Wrongful Death In Louisiana
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show ‘accidental’ or ‘unintentional’ death as the number 4 most common type of fatality in 2021. While not every accidental death can be considered ‘wrongful,’ many of these fatalities happen because of another person’s negligent or reckless behavior.
If you have lost a loved one in Louisiana, and you believe that it happened because of another person’s negligence, know that you may be able to collect compensation for the harm that both you and the deceased person suffered. A Shreveport wrongful death attorney may be able to help you get your questions answered, and while no amount of money will bring back the one you love, it can help keep your family afloat while you get your life back in order.
When Is A Death ‘Wrongful?’
The definition of ‘wrongful death’ in Louisiana is broad, simply being described as a death that happens “due to the fault of another.” While not every wrongful death case occurs as a result of ordinary negligence – sometimes medical malpractice or other crimes can result in a death of this type – it is the most common scenario. It is important to keep in mind that wrongful death is a civil action, not a crime; if you file an action for wrongful death, you are looking for money damages (though in some cases, a person could conceivably face both civil and criminal charges over the same incident).
In some situations, it can be difficult to establish whether a death is ‘wrongful’ or not, particularly in Louisiana, with such a broad definition; however, the surest way to differentiate between wrongful and accidental death is the duty of care owed. Sometimes, a person owes a duty to exercise reasonable care for another person or class of people – the most common is a motorist being required to exercise responsible care for all the other road users – and a failure to exercise that level of care is often considered “wrongful” – a death that is merely “accidental” does not involve any kind of duty of care.
Who Can Seek Compensation?
If you have lost a loved one, and you suspect that their passing was wrongful, the next step is to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the appropriate court. Under Louisiana law, only a select number of people can file for wrongful death – namely, the surviving spouse or children. If there are none, the surviving parents of the deceased may file suit; if the parents are deceased, any surviving siblings may file suit. The list continues – but in general, state law wants to ensure that those who depend on the deceased for the most support get first ‘crack’ at recovering for their passing.
The parties who eventually go ahead with filing suit may recover not only any medical or funeral expenses, but also lost income, damages for mental anguish or pain and suffering, lost support and services (that the deceased would have provided), and several other types of damages. Losing a loved one is a fundamentally life-changing event, and the idea of it happening in such an arbitrary manner can send a family reeling. On top of this, Louisiana does have an extremely brief statute of limitations; a bereaved family only has one year from the date of the person’s passing in which to file suit.
If you have lost someone due to what you believe was a wrongful death, seeking out knowledgeable legal assistance may be a good idea. A Shreveport wrongful death attorney can help you clarify your options and understand your position before filing suit. The firm of Rice & Kendig can help you in many ways, including getting relevant paperwork like police reports or medical records; we can shoulder the legal load while you and your family focus on adjusting to life without your loved one. Call our office today for your free consultation.