An accident can happen in an instant, and afterward, your life will be forever changed. When an accident is so severe that your loved one does not survive it, you will mourn them for the rest of your life. In these instances, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit to claim compensation for the losses sustained during the accident. Wrongful death lawsuits are complex, and many people do not fully understand them. If you have lost someone, our Baton Rouge wrongful death lawyer outlines the most important things you need to know.
Not everyone can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In fact, only people who are related to the decedent can file a claim, and even then, only specific relatives can file. The people who can file a wrongful death lawsuit include:
Sadly, significant others and fiancees of accident victims cannot file a wrongful death claim. Although this is unfair, it is the law in Louisiana, and in fact, it is the law in most states.
Like all personal injury claims, wrongful death claims are governed by a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the time limit eligible individuals have to file their claim. If a wrongful death claim is not filed before the statute of limitations expires, the person filing, as well as any other beneficiaries, will lose their right to file.
In Baton Rouge, as throughout the rest of Louisiana, individuals have only one year from the date of death. It is important to note the statute of limitations does not start on the day of the accident that caused the wrongful death but rather on the actual date of death. For example, your loved one may have been involved in a very serious car accident. They may have spent three weeks in the hospital before succumbing to their injuries. The statute of limitations would start on the day the person passed away and not the date of the car accident.
The legal term for the financial compensation you can receive after a wrongful death is ‘damages.’ Damages are intended to compensate the person filing, and other surviving family members, for the losses they experienced due to the death. The most common damages in wrongful death claims include:
In some cases, when the person who acted negligently caused the death acted with gross negligence or wanton disregard for the safety of others, punitive damages are sometimes awarded. These damages are rarely awarded, and they are not meant to compensate family members for their loss but rather to punish the defendant for their actions.
While only certain individuals can file a wrongful death claim, others may recover some damages, as well, even if they did not file. Surviving spouses and children often obtain the bulk of damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. When a minor child is the victim of a wrongful death, it is usually the parents that recover damages. However, this is not usually the case when an adult child passes away due to someone else’s carelessness.
Although some states place a cap, or limit, on the amount of damages loved ones can recover, this is not true in Louisiana. If you have lost someone you love, you can recover the full and fair damages to which you are entitled. The only exception to this is when a death is due to medical malpractice. In these cases, damages are capped at $500,000.
You may be eligible for compensation after losing a loved one, but while you are grieving is not the time to try and recover them on your own. At Big River Law, our Baton Rouge wrongful death lawyers will walk you through the claims process and negotiate with the liable party to ensure you receive the maximum damages you deserve. Call us now at 225.963.9638 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.