The wrongful death of a loved one is often a surreal experience that turns the family’s life upside down. Even after the impact sinks in, the family is left to deal with the reality every day, from the loss of the loved one’s presence to the end of their financial support.
Louisiana law recognizes the right of the family to recover for these losses. Compensation can include several types of loss, each of which is measured in a different way.
Wrongful death and survival actions
Louisiana Civil Code Section 2315.2 defines a wrongful death as occurring when “a person dies due to the fault of another” and it allows certain family members to bring a claim for damages they suffered as a result.
Section 2315.1 says that when a person dies by an offense, the right to recover for the personal injury survives for one year after the death and may be brought by certain family members.
Section 2315.2 and § 2315.1 may sound the same but they are actually different. The wrongful death statute – § 2315.2 – recognizes the rights of certain family members to recover for their own losses. The survival statute – § 2315.1 – pertains to the rights of the wrongful death victim and passes the right to certain family members.
Both statutes list who may bring an action. The lists are identical and first designate a surviving spouse or child. If there are none, then other surviving family in the order listed in the statute (the victim’s parents, siblings, or grandparents). The right to bring the claims are inheritable, so in some cases other relatives like nieces and nephews may be eligible claimants.
If you are the relative of a victim of wrongful death in Louisiana, speak with an attorney to determine whether the statute grants you the right to bring a claim.
Economic and non-economic damages
Wrongful death and survival claims are both broken down into economic (or “special”) damages and non-economic (or “general”) damages.
Economic damages include losses that can be readily assigned a numerical value. In a wrongful death claim, this may include the value of the loved one’s lost income and the value of services, like childcare, that the loved one provided for the family. In a survival claim, it usually includes medical bills incurred just before death.
Non-economic damages are less concrete. In a wrongful death claim, it can include the family’s emotional suffering. In a survival claim, it can include the lost loved one’s physical pain and suffering – whether it lasted minutes or days – before death.
Non-economic damages are harder to place a number on so they may be estimated using formulas based on the type of loss. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help determine what amounts are realistic in a given community.
Speak with a Louisiana wrongful death lawyer
The wrongful death of a loved one is emotionally and financially devastating and the wrongful death action that follows can be psychologically draining as well. Put your case in the hands of an attentive and caring wrongful death attorney in Baton Rouge. Bart Bernard and his staff are dedicated to helping injury victims secure fair compensation from those who are at fault.