There is nothing more complicated than losing a beloved family member, particularly when the death could have been avoided. If your loved one died because of someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions, you have our sincerest condolences. Under Louisiana law, families of those who died in accidents caused by another person’s negligence may be entitled to compensation.
You can recover compensation for damages related to your loved one’s death through a wrongful death lawsuit. After a loved one’s death, it can be hard to even think about bringing a lawsuit. However, keep in mind that you only have one year to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Louisiana.
The first step in bringing a wrongful death lawsuit is to determine which surviving family members can bring a lawsuit. Louisiana’s laws regarding who can file a wrongful death lawsuit are somewhat confusing. The best thing you can do is hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you navigate your legal rights after a wrongful death.
Named Beneficiaries can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Only certain individuals can bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Louisiana. Specifically, the named beneficiaries or the victims have an exclusive right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. A named beneficiary is someone whom the victim designated to receive some or all of his or her estate in a will. Typically, the following individuals have a right to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their deceased loved one:
- The spouse and children of the deceased individual
- The parents of the deceased individual
- The siblings of the deceased individual
- The grandparents of the deceased individual
The Eligibility for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works on a Hierarchical System
The classes of beneficiaries to bring a wrongful death lawsuit are successively exclusive in Louisiana. For example, when the victim leaves only a surviving spouse and children, only members from that class have the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. When the victim does not have a surviving spouse or surviving children, the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit passes exclusively to the next class members in line.
In this scenario, the victim’s parents would have an exclusive right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. In other words, only members of the highest-ranked class of the victim’s survivors have an exclusive right to bring the wrongful death lawsuit. If the victim’s parents are no longer living, then the deceased’s siblings may bring a wrongful death lawsuit. If the siblings are no longer living, the deceased’s grandparents may bring a wrongful death lawsuit, and so on.
Typically members of one class file the wrongful death claim as a group and then divide the settlement among themselves. One surviving family member in the proper class can file the wrongful death lawsuit on his or her own. Under Louisiana law, all eligible surviving family members only have one year from the date of their loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Requirements for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Fatal accidents happen every day in the United States, but someone else’s negligence does not always cause them. Some types of fatal accidents happen due to uncontrollable circumstances or because of the victim’s negligence. In order to succeed in a wrongful death lawsuit, you will need to prove that someone else’s negligence or reckless behavior caused your loved one’s death.
For example, if someone drives while intoxicated, crashes into a tree and dies, his or her family members would not be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. The deceased individual’s intoxicated driving caused his or her death. On the contrary, if an intoxicated driver ran through a stoplight and slammed into your loved one, the victim’s surviving family members would have a right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
Similarly, if a construction worker fails to put on his safety harness and dies after a dangerous fall, his family may not have a wrongful death lawsuit. His negligence contributed to his death. Yet, if a defective crane malfunctioned and killed a construction worker, his or her family would have a wrongful death claim through product liability laws.
How to Succeed in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The key to succeeding in a Louisiana wrongful death lawsuit is to prove that the defendant owed your loved one a duty of care. You will need to prove that the wrongdoer breached that duty of care. Finally, you will need to prove that the defendant’s negligence caused your loved one’s wrongful death. To prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care, you will need to identify the responsible party or parties and identify what duty of care they owned the deceased individual.
Identifying the liable party is one of the most important parts of a wrongful death lawsuit. In a car accident, it can be challenging to determine the at-fault driver. That is why it is important to engage in a thorough investigation by interviewing witnesses, analyzing any video footage of the accident, and hiring an accident reconstruction specialist. All drivers owe other drivers a duty to drive reasonably during the circumstances. They can breach that duty by driving while intoxicated or driving while distracted.
Finally, you will need to prove that the defendant’s breach of their duty caused your loved one’s death. You will need to show that your loved one would still be alive for the negligence of the defendant. For example, if a driver runs through a stoplight, you will need to prove that the driver’s negligent act caused your loved one’s death.
Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
If another negligent person caused your loved one’s death, you would benefit from an experienced wrongful death lawyer. Contact Arnona Rose, Attorneys at Law, today to schedule your free initial consultation.