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Some of the hardest cases for lawyers to handle are wrongful death cases. Even a great lawyer can’t possibly understand what you’re going through at a time like this. You’ve lost a family member and nothing anyone can do will bring him back. However, an experienced Lake Charles, Louisiana wrongful death attorney can get you justice.
Wrongful death is just what it sounds like – someone dies at the hands of somebody else. The death was caused by an accident. Most wrongful death cases involve negligence.
In order to prove negligence in a wrongful death case, you must show the following:
- There was a death
- Caused by the negligence of another
- The victim’s family members suffered a financial loss
- There is a personal representative appointed to the victim’s estate
Call a Louisiana wrongful death attorney who will do this for you at 337-800-8800. You need to focus on taking care of your family. Also, let your lawyer deal with the insurance company and the courts.
Many Situations Can Lead to a Wrongful Death Case
As scary as it may sound, there are dozens of ways a wrongful death case can happen. You could be going about your day when an accident hits you out of nowhere. Depending on your injuries, you could end up in the hospital. Some injuries are even bad enough to be fatal.
If your loved one has been the victim of wrongful death, you know just how this feels. A Louisiana wrongful death attorney has dealt with dozens of these cases over the years.
Most wrongful death cases arise in the following situations:
- Car accidents or any kind of road accidents
- Medical malpractice cases
- Product liability cases
- Dangerous drugs’
- Workplace accidents
All of these things are accidents. And, while it may seem harsh to hold the defendant accountable for someone’s death, they are responsible. If it weren’t for the accident, your loved one would still be alive.
Who Can a Louisiana Wrongful Death Attorney Represent?
Only certain people are able to file a wrongful death suit. You need to have suffered a loss. You also need legal standing. In Louisiana, in order to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you need to meet the following qualifications:
- Surviving spouse or children of the deceased person
- The surviving parents if the victim didn’t have a spouse or kids
- If there are no parents, the siblings of the deceased can file suit
- Worst case, the grandparents of the victim can file a claim
If you don’t meet the above requirements, you can’t file for wrongful death in Louisiana. Some of the parties who are not allowed to file for wrongful death include:
- If you’re engaged to the person who dies, you cannot file a claim for wrongful death. The same is true for people who were living with the victim at the time of the accident.
- Friends of the deceased can’t file suit. You must be an actual relative in order to qualify for wrongful death in Louisiana.
- Business partners and employers can’t file wrongful death claims. Having a commercial relationship to the victim is not sufficient.
- Cousins or other non-immediate family members can’t file a wrongful death claim.
Adopted children have the same rights as biological children.
What Damages Can a Louisiana Wrongful Death Attorney Demand?
If you have to file a wrongful death claim in Louisiana, you’ll be entitled to certain damages. Some of these damages are filed on behalf of the victim. Since he isn’t alive to demand his own compensation, his family can do so on his behalf. The remaining damages are intended to compensate the family for financial losses they’ve experienced as a result of the wrongful death.
In Louisiana, you may file for the following damages:
These damages represent that actual monetary loss suffered by the deceased and his family. Most of these damages can be proven using receipts and other records.
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Any medical expenses related to the accident or illness that caused your loved one’s death
- Lost wages
- The money your spouse would have earned had he survived
- The financial value for any household services the decedent offered
- Bills for any damaged property
These represent non-tangible damages suffered as a result of the accident. They don’t have an actual price tag attached to them. Your lawyer will have to prove these in court.
- Pain and suffering of both the victim and his family.
- Loss of guidance, advice and support the victim used to provide to his family.
Your lawyer will work hard to make sure you are compensated for your losses. He will submit the evidence to show that your family has suffered a great loss.
Make sure you provide all the information you have to your attorney. It’s going to be difficult to demonstrate all of your losses. The defendant will try to argue that you didn’t suffer the damages you claim. It’s going to be an uphill battle to prove how much you lost.
Keep in mind, juries are sympathetic in wrongful death cases. They can put themselves in your shoes. They know how you must feel and have no problem offering large jury awards in these cases.
How Long You Have to File Your Lawsuit in Louisiana?
Every state has something called a statute of limitations. This is a law that gives the filing deadlines for all types of civil cases. For wrongful death cases in Louisiana, the statute of limitations is one (1) year.
You have one year from the day your loved one dies to file your claim. Keep in mind – the one year doesn’t start on the date of the accident or illness. It starts on the day the victim dies. Here are some examples of how the statute of limitations would apply in wrongful death cases:
- Your mom is in a car accident on June 1, 2018. He is in the hospital for three weeks and undergoes multiple surgeries. She comes home and seems to be on the mend for a few months. Also, she suffers complications from her injuries in December of 2018 and passes away on Christmas. Your statute of limitations starts on December 25, 2018.
- Your husband was a firefighter in your home town. They never removed the asbestos from the firehouse. He is diagnosed with mesothelioma in the summer of 2016. He manages to hang on for almost three years. Sadly, he passes away on July 2, 2019. Your statute of limitations won’t start running when he is diagnosed. It starts on the day that he died.
If you don’t file your lawsuit in time, your claim will be forever barred. The benefit of having an experienced Louisiana personal injury attorney is that he knows how these things work. He will make sure your claim is filed on time.
Who Will My Louisiana Wrongful Death Attorney Have to Pursue?
Depending on your case, your lawyer may have to file claims against multiple parties. He will file any insurance claims as soon as possible. However, since you only have one (1) year to file your lawsuit, he can’t dicker back and forth for too long. If the insurance company won’t settle your case quickly, he’ll have no choice but to file suit in civil court.
Some of the parties your lawyer may name in the wrongful death suit includes:
- The doctor who operated on your loved one
- The driver of the car that caused the accident
- Any commercial entities these people worked for
- The insurance companies who cover the defendants
- The hospital where your loved one was treated
- The city where he worked if he was a first responder
This is just to name a few. There could be an unlimited number of people responsible for your loss. It depends on the type of accident and type of defendant.
Wrongful Death FAQs
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you have about your case. We are here to support you in any way we can. We’ve provided answers to a few of the questions we often receive at Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC.
How much does a wrongful death lawyer cost?
We take cases on contingency. That means you pay no upfront fees or costs to receive legal representation from an experienced and dedicated lawyer. We won’t collect any legal fees unless we recover financial compensation for you and your family. If we lose your case, you won’t have to pay us.
What are punitive damages?
Instead of compensating a victim for their losses, punitive damages punish the individual liable for the death and aim to deter similar misconduct in the future. Many wrongful death cases don’t allow surviving family members to pursue punitive damages; however, there are some exceptions.
There must be clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s acts that caused your loved one’s death were malicious, willful, reckless, wanton, or negligent. Examples of these acts include:
- Drunk driving
- Failure to repair dangerous conditions that caused multiple injuries
- Products liability
Should I talk to the insurance company handling the wrongful death claim?
Insurance companies typically look for ways to reduce the value of someone’s case or a reason to deny the claim altogether. If you speak with them, you could say something that negatively impacts the outcome. Let your Lake Charles wrongful death lawyer handle all communications on your behalf. We have experience dealing with insurance companies and will ensure they treat you fairly and provide the maximum settlement amount available.
Can I still file a wrongful death claim if there’s a criminal case against the at-fault party?
Yes. Criminal cases and wrongful death cases are different. A criminal case involves charges brought by a government official, such as a prosecutor or district attorney. The penalty is typically a prison sentence, fines, and/or probation. Civil cases, such as a wrongful death lawsuit, are to recover monetary damages. Even if there’s an ongoing criminal case, you can still move forward with your civil suit.
How do you prove wrongful death?
In any case, the evidence is crucial. When you hire us, we’ll thoroughly investigate the accident that led to your loved one’s death and collect substantial evidence, such as:
- Accident/incident reports
- Eyewitness statements
- Video surveillance of the fatal incident
- Photos from the accident scene
- Copies of medical records and other documentation associated with the fatal injury
Do I have to hire a wrongful death lawyer?
No. You can pursue a wrongful death case without legal representation; however, we strongly advise against that. We understand the state laws that dictate this type of case and how to recover the maximum financial award you deserve. We won’t allow anyone to intimidate you into accepting a low settlement or dropping your case. We’ll fight hard to ensure you’re able to seek justice for the loss of your loved one.
How long do wrongful death lawsuits last?
It depends on various factors associated with the case. Some settle quickly out of court, while others take years to resolve and could end up going to trial. For example, if there’s substantial evidence proving liability, it will be challenging for the defense attorneys to dispute it. They might be more willing to reach a settlement agreement, so they don’t have to argue the case in court. However, there are times when investigations take a while because it isn’t clear who’s at fault.
Contact a Louisiana Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If your family is the victim of wrongful death, you should contact a Louisiana wrongful death lawyer right away. You’re going to have your hands full with the funeral and handling your loved one’s estate. Let your lawyer worry about the legal side of things.
Wrongful death cases are very painful. The defendant’s lawyers know that juries and judges are very sympathetic to plaintiffs in these cases. This is why most wrongful death cases settle out of court. Nobody wants to take the chance of going to trial. Plus, trials are time consuming and expensive. It could also take years for your case to actually go to trial.
Your personal injury lawyer in the city of Lake Charles will fight hard to get your family a settlement that is fair. He knows you’ve suffered a terrible loss. He won’t stop until he gets you justice.
Call 337-800-8800 and schedule your initial consultation today. It is free and it gives you a chance to meet with a compassionate and experienced wrongful death attorney. Get the peace of mind you deserve at a time like this. And remember – you don’t pay a dime until you win your case.