Understanding Louisiana’s Wrongful Death Statute
At Doran & Cawthorne, P.L.L.C., we know that there is nothing more difficult than losing someone you love. If your family member recently passed away, we want to first and foremost extend our deepest and most sincere condolences. We truly empathize with what you and your family are going through, and we want to help you seek the justice you so rightfully deserve.
When someone you love passes away unexpectedly as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable party. While nothing can ever compensate you for the devastating loss you have experienced, a fair settlement or verdict can provide you with the financial resources you need to manage unexpected expenses so that you can focus on what matters most: healing.
What Is “Wrongful Death?”
“Wrongful death” is a legal term used to refer to the death of an individual resulting from “the fault of another” (La. Civ. Code § 2315.2). In other words, when someone dies as a result of another person or party’s negligence, recklessness, carelessness, or intentional conduct, that person’s death is considered “wrongful.”
Wrongful death cases often arise from the following types of accidents and incidents:
- Vehicle accidents, including car, truck, motorcycle, pedestrian, and bus accidents
- Serious falls, including slip and fall accidents and falls from heights to lower levels
- Dangerous property conditions, such as unsafe swimming pools or building code violations
- Accidents involving dangerous or defective products, including workplace accidents
- Sports and recreation accidents, including boating accidents and ATV accidents
- Assault, battery, homicide, murder, and related criminal acts of violence
If your loved one would have had grounds for a personal injury lawsuit had he or she lived, you (or another eligible party) likely have a wrongful death case. To learn more, we invite you to contact Doran & Cawthorne, P.L.L.C. and request a complimentary case review with a member of our team.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Louisiana?
Louisiana State law outlines who may file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. Unlike other states in which only the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate may bring a wrongful death action, Louisiana permits certain surviving family members to file these actions. The law also designates the order in which these individuals may bring a wrongful death claim or lawsuit.
In Louisiana, the following individuals may file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit (in order):
- A surviving spouse and/or the children of the deceased
- The deceased person’s parent(s), if there is no surviving spouse or child
- The deceased’s surviving sibling(s), if there is no surviving parent
- The deceased’s surviving grandparent(s), if there is no surviving sibling
The law extends permission to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit to both blood relatives and adoptive family members, as well as those related through marriage. However, if the court finds that a parent abandoned the person who died in childhood, the parent is not allowed to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit for damages.
Types of Damages Available in Louisiana Wrongful Death Claims
Unlike a criminal prosecution, which seeks criminal penalties against the person or party responsible for the death of another individual, a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil case. With civil litigation, the party bringing the claim (known as the “plaintiff”) seeks monetary compensation for certain losses (known as “damages”). The types of damages one can recover in a wrongful death case in Louisiana are defined by state law.
In Louisiana, you may seek compensation for the following types of wrongful death damages:
- Medical expenses related to the deceased’s treatment and care for the injuries or illness that led to his or her death
- “Reasonable and necessary” funeral/burial expenses
- Loss of expected earnings, income, and employment benefits, such as retirement or pension contributions
- Loss of expected inheritance, including contributions the deceased would have made had he or she lived
- The reasonable value of household services and support the deceased provided in life and would have continued to provide
- Loss of comfort, care, companionship, counsel, guidance, love, and emotional support
- Grief and anguish experienced by the survivor as a result of the individual’s death
While there is no universal cap on economic or non-economic damages in wrongful death cases in Louisiana, the state’s limit on medical malpractice damages may apply in wrongful death actions resulting from medical malpractice and negligence. For more information, reach out to our Opelousas wrongful death lawyers today.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Louisiana?
The amount of time you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Louisiana is limited to just one year from the date of death. If this time limit, known as the “statute of limitations,” expires before you file your lawsuit, you will almost certainly lose your right to recover damages from the liable party.
It is important that you act quickly, as the sooner you contact our Opelousas wrongful death attorneys, the sooner they can begin gathering evidence and building your claim. We encourage you to get in touch with us today so that we can discuss your legal options with you during a free, no-obligation consultation.
Turn to Our Wrongful Death Attorneys for Compassionate & Personalized Support
When you and your family are navigating the aftermath of a terrible loss, you need the support and guidance of a trusted legal team. At Doran & Cawthorne, P.L.L.C., our Opelousas wrongful death attorney truly cares about helping you obtain the justice you need to heal. We know that no amount of financial recovery can undo the pain, suffering, and trauma your family has endured, but by holding the liable party accountable, you can help ensure that others do not suffer the same fate. Additionally, a fair settlement or verdict can help your family stay on top of unexpected financial burdens so that you can focus on honoring your loved one and moving forward.
As your legal team, we will be there for you every step of the way. Since the firm’s founding in 2007, Doran & Cawthorne, P.L.L.C. has been entirely dedicated to helping individuals and families throughout Southern Louisiana and the nearby areas fight for fair compensation when they were harmed by the negligent and wrongful conduct of others. We are proud to serve our community and are ready to learn how we can help you and your family.
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