The laws of each state in The United States of America are different and the same is the case with the laws governing ‘Wrongful death’. Though it is best to consult a lawyer in case of actual trouble, it’s indeed a good sign to have basic knowledge about the laws in one’s own state.
In this article, we shall be discussing such laws in force in the state of Louisiana which define wrongful death and also specify who can, under what circumstances and under what time limit, file a claim for the wrongful death of a person in the District Courts of the state.
A claim for damages or compensation, for wrongful death, can be filed under Louisiana’s Civil law, in accordance with Article 2315.2 of the Civil Code which defines it as when “a person dies as a result of another’s fault”. The claim can be filed against both, an individual or an entity, depending on the circumstances of the case. It is not necessary that the death caused should have been intentional. Even a death caused unintentionally or due to negligence can be claimed to be wrongful death.
Who can file the claim?
The Louisiana Law declares that a set of people can bring a claim for wrongful death, to the court, if the injury caused to a person turns out to be fatal and such persons are as follows:
• The surviving spouse or children of the deceased person; or
• If there are no surviving spouse or children, the surviving parent or parents of the deceased person; or
• If there are no surviving parents, the surviving siblings of the deceased person; or
• If there are no surviving siblings then the surviving grandparents
Provided that, the family related to the deceased by the way of adoption have the same rights that a person related by blood or matrimony does. And in case none of the above-listed persons exist, then even the estate of the deceased can file such a claim in the court as the estate suffers loss in one way or another.
If a parent had abandoned the deceased in their childhood, such parents cannot bring a claim for wrongful death to the court as they are presumed to have died even before the deceased person and technically a dead person cannot file a case in the court.
At times, in the case of a wrongful death claim, there might also be a criminal case filed against the accused by the District Attorney’s office. For example, after a car accident, the family of the deceased files a claim for wrongful death while the D.A’s office files charges against the accused for homicide.
While the filing of a criminal case doesn’t affect the right of the family to file a claim for wrongful death, it is important for the family of the deceased to properly understand the difference between the two. The basic difference between the two is that the District Attorney files a criminal case against the accused, whereas the family, relatives, or estate of the deceased can file a civil claim for wrongful death. In a criminal case, the defendant is punished with penalties like imprisonment, fines, or probation. Unlike in the criminal case, the liability of the person will be talked about strictly in monetary terms in a civil claim for wrongful death.
Damages which are claimable
The damages claimed under wrongful death include both non-economic and economic losses. The non-economic losses are those which cannot be measured in monetary terms or which cannot be proved by the way of bills or receipts. The non-economic losses which can be covered under a wrongful death claim are as follows:
• The agony and pain that the deceased went through before dying.
• The loss of the deceased person as a friend, parent, guide, etc. suffered by the family members due to the undue death.
Contrary to non-economic losses, economic losses are those which can be measured in terms of money. The economic losses claimable in such a case are:
• Medical bills of the deceased related to the injuries caused by the accused
• The lost salary or benefits of the deceased
• The monetary values of the services lost due to the death of the person
• Funeral and burial expenses
It is generally recommended that the family of the deceased file a claim which includes both, economic and non-economic losses suffered by them and the deceased. If due to any reason the family is incapable of bringing the claim to the court then the same can also be done by an executor or a representative of the estate of the deceased, to recover the losses suffered by the estate.
Time limitation for claiming wrongful death
The time limit set for the filing of a claim for wrongful death is one year from the date of the death. Therefore, time is of true essence while filing such claims. Ensuring timely filing will also ensure that the court takes cognizance of your claim.
The pros of filing the claim as soon as possible are that when an incident is fresh, the most amount of evidence is available. As time goes by, it keeps getting harder and harder to collect evidence and slowly becomes a blur. The same is the case with the witnesses. Tracking down witnesses at a later stage can be quite difficult.
If you’re searching for more detailed legal advice or counseling on the topic or maybe have any other Louisiana Law related trouble, Edward B. Jones and Associates are here to protect you and help you in matters relating to wrongful death, auto accidents, family law, serious personal injuries and also criminal defense in Louisiana.
For us, it is not about gaining popularity. It is about proper and effective handling of the cases, legal services to the injured and their family. If you’re facing troubles related to the above-mentioned issues, call us today or visit our website.