It’s easy to forget how dangerous motor vehicles really are until someone you love winds up in a tragic collision. Losing a family member in a traffic wreck can change your entire life in an instant. From the financial repercussions of that death to the emotional and social consequences of losing a relative or family member, you will have a lot to deal with in the wake of a fatal collision.
With everything going on after such a loss, such as planning a funeral, finding space to grieve and trying to adjust your family’s budget and responsibilities, you may overlook your right to hold the person who caused the crash responsible for the damage they caused.
Under Louisiana law, you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit if someone causes the death of your family member through a wrongful act, which includes crimes, or through negligence.
How does a wrongful death claim work?
The process for filing a wrongful death claim involves bringing a civil lawsuit against the individual who caused the crash. In some cases, such as a wreck caused by a commercial vehicle, it may also be possible to hold a business or employer responsible. You must file a claim within one year of the date of death.
Typically, you will have to also claim a specific monetary amount for the loss that your family suffered. Then you must demonstrate to the courts that the evidence supports your claim that the other person has responsibility or liability for the loss you suffered.
What compensation can you seek?
There is no easy way to put a realistic financial value on the love of someone in your immediate family. However, it is possible to assign a price to the impact of the death. Wrongful death lawsuits can seek compensation for lost wages that the deceased would have earned, medical costs they incurred prior to death, funeral costs, and loss of support or companionship.
Some of these losses have easy-to-estimate financial values, while others are harder to price. Determining the financial value of loss of support often involves looking at the services your loved one offered to your family. Did they maintain the lawn, provide childcare, or repair your broken vehicles? Did they serve as your family IT professional who kept all of your computers and phones working perfectly?
Those tasks that your loved one performed for your family have an identifiable financial value, as you will have to incur specific financial costs to hire someone else to provide those same services. From counseling to cleaning, the unpaid work your loved one provided to the family has value just like their future wages do.
There doesn’t need to be a criminal conviction to win a wrongful death case
Even if the person who caused the fatal crash didn’t wind up charged with or convicted of a crime in relation to the collision, it is still possible for your family to bring a successful wrongful death claim against them. The evidence required to bring a successful wrongful death claim or civil suit against someone is substantially lower than the kind of evidence required to convict someone.