Shreveport Wrongful Death Lawyer
Have You Lost a Loved One? Get the Compassionate Representation You Deserve.
The sudden passing of a loved one due to an accident is a traumatic event to a family. Factually, most so-called accidents whether work-related, a drunk driving accident or the result of medical malpractice could have been avoided with more thought and care. Have you lost a loved one due to a needless accident or reckless behavior of another? If so, our hearts go out to you.
We understand this is a difficult and stressful time. We also know that in moving through the grieving process needing to know what happened and answers as to how this could happen and the desire to prevent it from happening to others can be very strong. We offer our guidance and assistance. Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers has successfully helped numerous surviving family members throughout the area to get answers to these and other questions. Consult a Shreveport wrongful death attorney to find out more. We offer free case evaluations!
Your Right to Compensation for Your Losses
The sudden loss of a loved one through a preventable accident is an injustice. The criminal court system may not be effective in obtaining a fair outcome. Most fatal accidents take a financial toll on the surviving family if only in medical and final costs.
The survivors may suffer other losses as well, such as:
- Loss of income if the deceased was a source of income to the family
- Loss of love, companionship & other services
State law recognizes your right to be compensated by the person or entity responsible when you have lost a loved one because another's careless actions took a life. A Shreveport wrongful death lawyer at our firm can listen intently to your concerns and investigate the circumstances of the mishap before filing a claim for your damages.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim?
Although there are certainly plenty of people who are directly affected by the death of a loved one, both emotionally and financially, not just anyone can file a wrongful death case. Instead, Louisiana State legislation mandates that only certain family members can create the lawsuit and that they only do so if a party with more priority does not exist to do so. The family or representative of the decedent's estate may bring suit for wrongful death and recover damages from those responsible.
In order based on who has the most priority, the people who can file a wrongful death lawsuit are:
- Spouses or children
- Representatives of decedent’s estate
If there are no surviving family members and no one has been named to represent or manage the decedent’s estate, there can be no wrongful death claim. It is also worth noting that adopted family members are eligible for filing but parents who had willfully abandoned the decedent do not.
Furthermore, there is only a brief one year statute of limitations on wrongful death cases in Louisiana; if no claim is filed within the first 12 months after the decedent’s passing, virtually no claim for compensation can be made at all, regardless of evidence of negligence or wrongdoing. Most cases are settled out of court, but as members of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum®, our legal team develops the case to go to trial and is ready to go toe-to-toe with the defendant's attorneys if that is what it takes to see justice done.
Call our office to speak with a lawyer who is passionate about obtaining a successful outcome. We look forward to hearing from you.
Wrongful Death FAQ:
How is negligence established in a wrongful death case?
Establishing negligence is the first step in establishing that you have grounds to file a wrongful death claim. To establish negligence, the plaintiff must prove the following elements:
- Duty of care - They must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased person. A duty of care is a legal obligation to act in a reasonably careful manner to avoid causing harm to others.
- Breach of duty - They must prove that the defendant breached their duty of care by acting or failing to act in a manner that fell below the standard of care expected of them.
- Causation - Then they must prove that the defendant's breach of duty caused the death of the deceased person.
- Damages - Finally, the plaintiff must prove that the death of that person resulted in damages to the surviving family members, such as emotional distress, loss of support, and loss of companionship.
What is the difference between a wrongful death claim and a criminal case?
The main difference between a wrongful death claim and a criminal case is the purpose and burden of proof.
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit brought by the surviving family members of a person who died as a result of someone else's negligence, recklessness, or intentional harm. The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to seek compensation for the damages caused by the death. In a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant was responsible for the death.
On the other hand, a criminal case is a legal proceeding brought by the government against a person accused of committing a crime, such as murder, manslaughter, or negligent homicide. The purpose of a criminal case is to punish the defendant for their wrongdoing and to protect society. In a criminal case, the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, which means the prosecution must prove that the defendant committed the crime with a high degree of certainty.
It is possible for there to be both a criminal and civil case brought regarding the same incident, but they are both separate legal proceedings and are handled completely separately. Winning one case does not automatically mean that the plaintiff will win the other.
How long does a wrongful death case take to resolve?
The duration of a wrongful death case can vary significantly based on several factors. Wrongful death cases are typically complex and emotionally charged, and their resolution timeline depends on the specific circumstances of each case.
Some of the factors that can impact how long a wrongful death case takes to resolve include:
- Investigation and Gathering Evidence: The initial stage involves investigating the circumstances surrounding the death, gathering evidence, and identifying liable parties. This process can take several months, depending on the complexity of the case and the cooperation of involved parties.
- Number of Defendants: If multiple parties are responsible for the wrongful death, it can extend the timeline as each defendant's liability needs to be assessed.
- Disputes and Challenges: Disputes over liability, insurance coverage, or the amount of damages sought can lead to delays in reaching a settlement or proceeding to trial.
- Expert Testimony: In some cases, expert witnesses may be necessary to provide insights into the cause of death or the extent of damages, which can add time to the legal process.
- Negotiations and Settlement Talks: Efforts to reach a fair settlement with insurance companies or responsible parties can take time, and sometimes multiple rounds of negotiations are required.
- Court Schedules: Court schedules and caseloads can affect the availability of trial dates, potentially prolonging the resolution process.
- Filing and Procedural Requirements: Meeting all the legal requirements, including filing deadlines and procedural steps, is essential but can take time to navigate thoroughly.
Given these complexities, wrongful death cases can take several months or even years to reach a resolution. The primary focus should be on ensuring that the case is handled meticulously, so the surviving family members receive the compensation they deserve for their loss.
Can a wrongful death claim be filed if the deceased was partially at fault?
Yes, in Louisiana, a wrongful death claim can still be filed even if the deceased was partially at fault for the accident that led to their death. Louisiana follows the legal principle of "comparative fault" or "comparative negligence" in personal injury and wrongful death cases.
Under Louisiana's pure comparative fault system, the deceased's level of fault is taken into account when determining the amount of compensation the surviving family members can recover. Even if the deceased was partially responsible for the accident, the family may still pursue a wrongful death claim against other parties whose negligence also contributed to the fatal incident.
However, the compensation awarded to the family will be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault attributed to the deceased. For example, if the deceased was found 30% at fault for the accident, the potential compensation would be decreased by 30%.
Navigating the complexities of comparative fault in wrongful death cases can be challenging, requiring a thorough investigation and skilled legal representation. If you believe your loved one's death was due to someone else's negligence, consulting an experienced wrongful death attorney in Louisiana is crucial. They can assess the circumstances of the case, determine liability, and advocate on behalf of the family to seek fair and just compensation for their loss.
How much does it cost to hire a wrongful death attorney?
At Morris & Dewett, you don’t pay any legal fees unless we win your case, so you don’t have to worry about paying any fees out-of-pocket up front.