Losing a family member or loved one unexpectedly is something many people never get over. A sudden death can leave you mentally, emotionally and financially ruined.
If the death is caused by someone else’s actions, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim. Louisiana law defines a wrongful death as a death that occurs due to the fault of another.
Fault can be an intentional act, or an act caused by negligence. Committing a crime against someone, such as a robbery or assault, is an example of an intentional act, while a car accident or medical malpractice are examples of negligence.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
Only certain people can file a wrongful death lawsuit. These include the victim’s surviving:
- Spouse and/or children
Each group of people can file only if the more direct relatives are not available. For example, the victim’s parents may file only if there is no surviving spouse or children.
What can I ask for?
Unlike a criminal prosecution, where the penalties include jail time, fines or probation, penalties in a wrongful death lawsuit are limited to monetary damages. This includes economic damages and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages are things like funeral expenses, medical bills and loss of income you experience from the death. These damages are typically easier to calculate, if you produce bills, receipts or income statements.
You can ask for an amount in noneconomic damages for your grief and loss of your companionship or emotional support. Since you cannot provide documents showing an amount for these things, they may be more challenging to prove.
However, you can provide testimony, either orally or through a written statement, about how the death has affected you. Your testimony can also detail the life you shared with your loved one, providing support for a loss of companionship claim.
How long do I have to file?
There is only a one-year statute of limitations in Louisiana for a wrongful death claim. Therefore, you should file as soon as you can. An attorney can help you with filing your claim and provide you with helpful guidance and support through this difficult time.