The sudden passing of a loved one is never easy to cope with. However, when a fatal accident resulting from someone else’s negligence results in a person’s death, that’s understandably particularly hard for family members to deal with.
Our Louisiana legal system allows surviving family members to file wrongful death lawsuits to pursue justice when preventable fatal accidents occur. While filing personal injury claims like these won’t bring your loved one back, it does help a surviving spouse and other family members more easily cover funeral expenses and stay afloat financially, given the lost wages not being infused into their household because of their loved one’s death.
Taking legal action is never easy, and the complexities are even greater when filing wrongful death claims. This is where having a Baton Rouge wrongful death lawyer from Bianca | Matkins representing you and your family’s best interests can greatly help. Your attorney will know all the appropriate Louisiana laws that apply to your wrongful death case so that you can recover the maximum compensation you and your family deserve.
What Is a Wrongful Death per Louisiana Law?
Louisiana Civil Code Art. 2315.2, outlines what constitutes a wrongful death in our state. That state statute defines the concept as a situation in which a “person dies due to the fault of another.”
What Are the Most Common Causes of Wrongful Death in Baton Rouge?
Various scenarios may lead to a victim dying prematurely due to the reckless actions of a negligent party, including:
- A motor vehicle accident: Anytime someone gets behind the wheel of an automobile or navigates the roadway by foot, bicycle, or motorbike alongside them, they run the risk of being fatally wounded in a car accident. According to the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development (DOTD), there were 997 car crash fatalities in 2021 in our state.
- Medical malpractice: An obstetrician’s failure to adequately monitor a pregnant mother could easily result in her hemorrhaging or her baby being deprived of oxygen, resulting in their deaths. Similarly, a nurse administering the wrong dosage of a medication to a patient could claim their life. These are two examples of medical malpractice that can unnecessarily claim Louisiana residents’ lives.
- Dangerous property situations: Owners often know that their premises are unsafe, yet do nothing to remedy how hazardous they are. Slips and falls, assaults or shootings, drownings, and other fatal accidents may occur because of this, warranting the filing of a wrongful death claim.
- Use of a defective product: Designers, manufacturers, and advertisers have an obligation to ensure that the products that they release on the market are safe and that consumers are warned of any potential dangers that they could pose if used incorrectly or by certain populations. There were 51,000 deaths nationwide attributable to dangerous product use in 2019, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Workplace accidents and occupational illnesses: Most of us expect our Louisiana employers to take necessary measures to keep us safe; however, many companies cut corners to save time and money. Repeated exposure to toxic chemicals, bacteria, and other substances, like asbestos, can accumulate over time, eventually causing someone’s death. Poorly maintained machinery, the inadequate provision of safety equipment, and other types of employer oversight can also leave workers vulnerable to suffering a fatal accident on the job.
Proving Liability for a Baton Rouge Wrongful Death Case
Evidence compiled in cases involving wrongful deaths goes to establishing, often used interchangeably with the word proving, negligence or liability. There are a few different elements all wrongful death attorneys look for when performing a case evaluation to determine if liability is clear, which are whether:
- The alleged at-fault party owed the decedent a duty of care
- Another party’s negligence resulted in your loved one ultimately losing their life
One of our Bianca | Matkins personal injury attorneys will likely determine you meet the standards to move forward in filing a wrongful death lawsuit if you can establish these elements outlined above.
Damages You Can Recover When Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Baton Rouge
There are three types of damages plaintiffs can recover by filing wrongful death claims which include:
- Economic damages: While funeral and burial expenses and lost wages are common economic losses decedents’ loved ones seek compensation for when filing a wrongful death claim, an amount associated with household services if the decedent performed chores around the home before their passing may also be recoverable.
- Noneconomic damages: These damages, often recoverable by filing a survival claim, allow you to seek compensation for emotional distress and losses of a loved one’s companionship, support, and guidance.
- Punitive damages: These punitive damages are awarded by a Louisiana judge in wrongful death litigation cases in which an intoxicated motorist struck and killed someone.
A wrongful death settlement isn’t guaranteed. Your ability to recover compensation is only as good as the strength of your case and how experienced your Baton Rouge attorney is in pushing back against insurance adjusters when they try to deny liability or offer you lowball compensation.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Louisiana?
Not just anyone can file a wrongful death suit against the other party responsible for causing the accident that caused your loved one’s passing. The same statute referenced above, Louisiana Civil Code Art. 2315.2, also outlines who can file a wrongful death action.
That Louisiana law gives a surviving spouse and the decedent’s children first priority to file a wrongful death claim. Keep in mind that adopted children are seen as having equal legal rights to biological kids.
If a decedent wasn’t married or didn’t have children at the time of their wrongful death, then the right to file a wrongful death claim passes on to the deceased person’s surviving parents. If the victim’s parents are no longer alive, the decedent’s surviving siblings can file the wrongful death action. Surviving grandparents can file the wrongful death lawsuit if there is no other surviving family member with a higher priority status.
The personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file the wrongful death lawsuit when a victim didn’t have any surviving family members when they passed, with or without the assistance of an attorney.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Louisiana Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The same Louisiana statute highlighted above, CC Art. 2315.2, also outlines how the one-year statute of limitations that applies to personal injury matters in our state also applies to wrongful death cases. If you neglect to file the wrongful death case within that one-year window, then your ability to do so is likely to be rejected by the courts. If this happens, then you will be forever prohibited from recovering financial compensation to pay for your loved one’s final medical bills and funeral costs, and from recovering lost wages and future earnings.
You’re likely aware of certain situations where a person suffers life-threatening injuries or illnesses and endures significant pain, but does not immediately succumb to them. The above-referenced Louisiana wrongful death statute begins counting down once the death occurs instead of from the time they became injured or ill.
When Should You Consult With a Baton Rouge Wrongful Death Lawyer?
One of the worst things that could happen to you after losing your loved one unexpectedly is to wait and let the dust settle, then try to recover compensation more than a year after your family member died. You must move aggressively in holding the responsible party accountable for their negligent action after a person dies. Doing so is the only way to preserve the rights of you, your children, or any other eligible family member to wrongful death damages.
It’s understandable that you need time to grieve your loss, and that’s why it’s in your best interest to turn the handling of your wrongful death claim over to an attorney. Our Baton Rouge wrongful death lawyers at Bianca | Matkins offer prospective clients a free consultation to discuss the personal injury event that robbed you of your loved one and any economic losses you’ve already sustained and will incur in the future because of their passing.
Contact our Baton Rouge law firm to speak with one of the most compassionate wrongful death attorneys in our city. When you hire us as your legal counsel, our wrongful death lawyers will file suit with the responsible party’s insurance company. We’ll then continue to gather evidence pointing to liability to ensure that when you secure compensation for both you and your loved one’s pain and suffering and tangible funeral and burial costs, the damages awarded are full and fair.
A member of our Bianca | Matkins legal team is standing by, waiting to hear from you. Reach out to us to schedule a free consultation to discuss filing a wrongful death or survival action. You’ll get to speak directly with a Baton Rouge wrongful death lawyer who cares about their clients and will do what it takes to secure the best possible outcome for them.