Losing a loved one in a motor can be traumatic. These deaths are unexpected, meaning you don't have a chance to make peace with your loved one or prepare for his or her passing. Instead, you're suddenly confronted with a new world, one in which someone who was invaluable to you is not longer with you.
The negative emotions and grief that come from a fatal motor vehicle collision could be even more intense in cases where it's clear that the other driver was at fault. Whether intoxication, distraction or just poor driving skills played a factor, you may feel that the other driver stole something precious from you. The desire for justice could end up frustrated, however, if there isn't enough evidence for law enforcement to pursue a criminal offense related to the crash or if the penalties are too low.
Criminal court isn't always the answer
There's always the potential for a serious issue when a wrongful death case goes through the criminal courts. Perhaps an issue with how a chemical test got administered means the test can't be evidence in the trial or maybe the attorney argues that the driver was not responsible in a manner that convinces the jury. Sometimes, even when there is a conviction or a guilty plea, the person who caused the fatal crash could serve a minuscule sentence or just end up on probation.
For surviving family members of someone killed in a crash, including spouses, children and even sibling or parents, there's also a potential for a civil lawsuit. Unlike a criminal court, which requires evidence that convinces a jury of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the civil courts have much more reasonable standards for a successful wrongful death suit.
You could recover losses or penalize the other driver
In Louisiana, the courts allow for two kinds of damages related to a wrongful death suit. The first are pecuniary damages, which are direct financial losses related with the crash. These could include medical costs, funeral costs, lost wages, property damage and even compensation for loss of support from your loved one. Depending on the age, income and other details about your loved one, that could represent a substantial amount of compensation.
You can also seek putative damages in cases where the other person committed willful harm against your loved one. This can be more difficult to prove, but there is potential for putative damages in some cases, such as when the other driver choose to flee the scene without summoning medical help for your injured loved one.
While no amount of compensation can undue the harm that comes from losing a loved one, holding someone financially accountable for the damages he or she causes can provide you with a sense of justice after a wrongful death.