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Understanding wrongful death actions in Louisiana

When a loved one dies as a result of a serious accident, close family members may be able to bring a lawsuit to recover damages. While no amount of money can make up for the loss of someone you love, for many people the compensation can help offset some of the financial aspects of their loss.

According to Louisiana law, the surviving spouse and children are first in line to qualify as plaintiffs for a wrongful death case. If the deceased was not married and had no children, other potential plaintiffs may include parents and siblings.

Wrongful death and survival

In some cases, the plaintiff can bring two claims: the wrongful death action and a survival action. The wrongful death suit is on behalf of the survivors, and any damages would intend to compensate them for losses they suffered because their relative died. The survival claim arises in the name of the deceased if time passes between the accident and the resulting death. Damages on the survival claim would compensate the estate for pain, suffering and medical expenses the accident victim suffered before passing away.

Damages

In a wrongful death case, plaintiffs may recover several types of damages. Economic losses may stem from losing future earnings and income the deceased would have brought the family. The law also allows the jury to place a monetary value on other benefits the deceased would have conferred on relations, such as advice, emotional support and services. Plaintiffs in a wrongful death case can also recover damages for the emotional pain they suffer because of the death, as well as the loss of love and companionship.

When a wrongful death suit succeeds, the jury awards one sum representing all the damages. In cases where there are multiple heirs, the jury will not divide the compensation among them. Sharing the award can become a complex issue in its own right.

Wrongful death actions often involve many complicated legal questions. Louisiana law allows plaintiffs to sue within one year of the death, so undue delay can eliminate your case before you even file it. Discussing your case with an experienced attorney as soon as possible can give you the information you need to proceed further.

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