Wrongful Death Cases

LAKE CHARLES WRONGFUL DEATH ATTORNEY

Lake Charles Wrongful Death LawyerLosing a loved one for any reason is difficult. But when the loss is caused by someone’s negligence or reckless behavior, it’s different. You have questions for which there may never be any answers, and justice feels like it can’t come soon enough. You will need an experienced Lake Charles wrongful death lawyer to help you navigate these difficult times. 

The Johnson Firm will fight to secure the compensation that provides financial relief to you and your family. With a Lake Charles personal injury attorney assuming the legal burden, you and your family can grieve your loss in peace.

 

What is a wrongful death claim?

In Louisiana, “wrongful death” is when “a person dies due to the fault of another” (La. Civ. Code 2315.2 (2021).) The death could be directly caused by another individual or by the wrongdoing of an entity, such as a corporation. 

 

How does a wrongful death claim work?

A wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury lawsuit. Wrongful death damages are the damages suffered by the survivors as a result of the death of the family member, so contacting a wrongful death lawyer is paramount in getting just compensation for the wrongful death of your loved one. 

The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to collect damages. The compensation covers emotional suffering, wage loss, other economic losses, and final expenses.

If you have lost a loved one due to wrongful death negligence, The Johnson Firm is here to assist you.

Lake Charles Wrongful Death LawyerInjuries That Lead to Wrongful Death

Nearly any injury can lead to a wrongful death claim. Even seemingly simple or minor injuries can result in the death of a loved one. However, some types of injuries lead to wrongful death claims more frequently than others. These include:

1. VEHICLE ACCIDENTS

 According to the Louisiana Department of Transportation, over 700 people are killed on Louisiana’s roadways each year. These people may have been involved in a car, truck, or motorcycle collision. What they have in common is that they suffered injuries so severe that they lost their lives, leaving friends and family behind.

2. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

 You trust medical professionals with your life. When you visit a doctor, you believe they are going to heal you, not make you worse or even cause your death. Sadly, thousands of people each year pass away because a medical professional was negligent. A misdiagnosis, a failure to diagnose, or a surgical mistake can cost you your life.

3. PRODUCT LIABILITY

 You buy a new product, use it the way the packaging says, and it performs as you expect. This happens every single day. You don’t stop to think that you could have been killed by that product had it malfunctioned, but that’s exactly what happens to some people. 

 When a product is defective in its design, manufacture, composition, or fails to meet a warranty, you may have the right to seek compensation from the manufacturer.

4. DRUG INJURIES

 Most of us have taken prescription medications in our lives. We’ve done this without a second thought because it was what our doctor told us to do. Yet according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, approximately 2.2 million hospitalized people suffer adverse drug reactions each year. Of these, more than 100,000 will die. That’s more deaths annually than car accidents, diabetes, or pneumonia. 

5. WORKPLACE ACCIDENTS

Very few people start their workday believing that they may not come home at the end of their shift. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace accidents are common in the United States, with 5,250 people in 2018 suffering injuries that ultimately led to their death. 

In Louisiana, there are limits on when a worker or the family of a deceased worker can sue an employer. However, in certain situations, an employer can be held liable for the death of an employee. An experienced Lake Charles wrongful death attorney can advise the family about what rights there are in case of a workplace death.

 

What helps prove a wrongful death lawsuit?

In order to win a wrongful death lawsuit, you must prove the following things:

  • Some person or entity caused an accident or incident, whether negligently or intentionally;
  • The person or entity’s actions caused your  family member’s death; and
  • The surviving family members suffered damages as a result of the death of the family member.

 

If your loved one’s death has these elements, contact a Lake Charles wrongful death lawyer to discuss the next steps, as you may be eligible to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. 

Lake Charles Wrongful Death LawyerHow hard is it to prove wrongful death?

To prove wrongful death, you will need to prove that the defendant owed the deceased a duty of care, that they breached that duty, and the deceased died as a result of their negligence. The damages in a wrongful death case are measured based on the financial losses suffered as a result of your loved one’s death, plus the emotional toll and loss of the relationship. No two cases are alike, and the evidence regarding your damages will be tailored to your losses.

 

Duty of Care

Duty of care is the responsibility to comply with a reasonable level of responsibility toward others around you. For example, drivers on the road owe other drivers a duty of care. Thus, they obey traffic regulations and do not behave recklessly. 

You will need to prove that a duty of care was owed by the defendant to your loved one. 

 

Breach of Duty

You will then have to prove that the defendant breached this duty of care. This means that they failed to behave with a reasonable level of care for others around them.  For example, a motorist who violates a traffic law or drives recklessly is breaching their duty of care to the other vehicles.

You can prove this breach by proving that their actions were not what another reasonable person would have done in the same scenario. A reasonable person would understand that violating a traffic signal would endanger others, so they wouldn’t do it.

 

Causation

Next, you will need to prove that the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused your relative’s death. You need an experienced wrongful death lawyer to present a case that the defendant’s actions were negligent, reckless, or potentially intentional which resulted in the death of your loved one.

 

Damages

To seek damages in your wrongful death lawsuit, you need to prove that you suffered losses due to your loved one’s death. These damages can be a range of economic and non-economic things, such as medical bills, funeral expenses, and grief. 

You can recover compensation for the contributions of your loved one to your household. For example, their lost wages, the childcare that they offered, and their ability to do certain chores.

The most important damage, though, is the relationship that is lost. Financial losses can be reimbursed, but the loss of a loved one is a permanent and painful event that will live on with the rest of the surviving family for the rest of their lives. 

 

Contact a Lake Charles Wrongful Death Lawyer Today

As premier wrongful death lawyers in Lake Charles, The Johnson Firm works tirelessly to prove loved ones are entitled to wrongful death damages. We will collect evidence to show how the death was caused by the negligence of a third party. Let us advocate on your behalf to secure compensation for:

  • Medical expenses that were incurred prior to the death, if any exist
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of income that the loved one’s passing has caused the family
  • Loss of companionship, love, and comfort of the loved one
  • Loss of domestic services the loved one provided

 

Your grief should not be compounded by financial worries. Let us take the stress off of your shoulders. It’s our job to fight for what is fair while you are given time and space to mourn the passing of your family member. 

 As Lake Charles wrongful death attorneys, we understand that this is an overwhelming time for your family. We also know that no amount of compensation will ease your grief or bring your loved one back. What financial compensation can do is alleviate some of the burdens you are experiencing.

 Reach out to our team today for a free case evaluation. Do not take this on alone! Call us today at (337) 433-1414, reach out to us online, or visit our Lake Charles offices at your convenience. We are here for you and your family and are ready to offer assistance.

Lake Charles Wrongful Death LawyerWhat damages may be claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit?

Wrongful death lawsuit damages are different from a typical personal injury lawsuit. The damages are awarded to the surviving family of the deceased rather than to the injury victim.  

 

Economic

Economic losses are easily measured and specified as they are financial losses that the family suffered. These include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical bills for the deceased before they died
  • Cost to transport their body, if required
  • Lost wages that the deceased contributed to the family
  • Value of household services that the deceased provided
  • Property damage

 

Non-Economic

In wrongful death cases, most of the non-economic losses are those of the survivors. They cannot be established with evidence like a receipt, so they can be harder to quantify. However, they often result in larger compensation than economic damages.

These include:

  • Survivor’s grief and anguish
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of care and emotional support

 

Who has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit?

Not every relative of the deceased has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

In Louisiana, only the following relatives of the deceased can file:

  • Their surviving spouse and surviving children;
  • Their surviving parents, only if none of the above are living;
  • The deceased’s siblings, only if none of the above are living;
  • The deceased’s grandparents, only if none of the above are living.

 

Adopted family members are considered related by blood in the eyes of the Louisiana courts and may file a wrongful death claim if they otherwise qualify.

If you are unsure which of your relatives can file a wrongful death lawsuit for the loss of your loved one, contact a Lake Charles wrongful death lawyer. 

 

What is the average settlement for a wrongful death lawsuit?

Settlements for wrongful death lawsuits are often much higher than those of personal injury lawsuits, motorcycle accident lawsuits, or other car accident lawsuits. This is in part due to the severity of the negligence that could lead to an individual dying. It is also in large part due to the emotional suffering that a wrongful death causes a family.

Settlements range from hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions, depending on the circumstances surrounding the case.

A settlement or verdict in your case may be worth more or less than average. Speak to a Lake Charles wrongful death lawyer at The Johnson Firm today to find out how much your case is worth. 

 

How long does it take to settle wrongful death claims?

Wrongful death claims, like any lawsuit, take time. Litigation can take years. You can’t expect to settle your claim within a few days or weeks.

However, the actual length of your claim will vary depending on the specific circumstances.  Wrongful death cases that can be settled out of court often take less time. However, there is a risk of out-of-court settlements being much lower than the damages that you would be awarded by a judge and jury.

Although taking your wrongful death claim to court may take more time, it can result in a higher overall compensation and ensure that you are not being taken advantage of by insurance companies

If either party disagrees with the judge’s ruling after a court verdict, some appeals processes can further draw out the case.

A Lake Charles wrongful death lawyer will ensure that you don’t have to accept unfair settlements. They will help you navigate the court process if you cannot reach an acceptable settlement agreement.

Wrongful Death Questions and Answers

What is the difference between medical malpractice and wrongful death?

Sometimes, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims overlap, but they are two separate things. The best way to determine what kind of case you have is to contact an experienced lawyer at The Johnson Firm.

Medical malpractice claims occur when a medical professional provides a substandard level of care negatively impacting the patient’s health. In extreme cases, this poor care may result in the patient’s death. However, it is more likely to exacerbate their illness, delay their recovery, lead to scarring or amputation, cause infections, or cause negative reactions to medication.

Wrongful death, on the other hand, arises when a family member is killed due to someone else’s negligence. Medical malpractice is just one of many causes of wrongful death. Others include assault, product liability, and motor vehicle accidents.

Additionally, medical malpractice claims are more difficult to prove. They require expert medical testimony, which can be extremely expensive.

If you believe that your family member died due to medical malpractice, contact a Lake Charles wrongful death lawyer to discuss your next steps. 

What should I ask a wrongful death lawyer?

When hiring a wrongful death lawyer, take some time to research lawyers in your area and ask questions. You want someone with experience that you can work with throughout the process, who will keep you informed, and who has a proven track record of success in wrongful death cases.

Some questions you should ask are:

  • How much experience do you have?
  • How long will my case last?
  • Do you think I have a case?
  • What damages can I recover?
  • Who will be working on my case?
  • What is your typical approach?
  • How many cases are you currently working on?
  • What challenges do you think we will encounter with this case?
Why do I need a wrongful death lawyer?

Wrongful death lawsuits are complicated. You deserve time to focus on your grief and the healing process instead of worrying about the legal intricacies of your case. Our expert attorneys at The Johnson Firm will ensure that you get the financial support you need during this time by collecting damages.

Will insurance companies compensate for wrongful death?

Insurance companies will do everything in their power to prevent paying out money for any claim, including wrongful death.

You will need to first prove that the defendant was liable for the death of your loved one. Once you have proved this, insurance companies are liable to pay compensation for wrongful death to the survivors. They are the ones your Lake Charles wrongful death lawyer will negotiate terms with or take to court to sue for damages.

The company will not have your best interests at heart. Remember to be careful about speaking with them directly and ensuring that you follow your lawyer’s directions so you don’t accidentally hurt your case.

Should I involve the police in my wrongful death claim?

You will need to use your own judgment as to whether or not the police need to be called.

In most cases, you will not need to involve the police, as many wrongful deaths occur after a period of medical care. For example, if your loved one passes away a month after a medical malpractice surgery, you would not need to call police to the scene. 

You should call the police to the scene of an active crime scene. This includes a homicide scene or a car accident, where there is a need for investigation and collection of evidence. There is a continued risk of danger at these scenes that necessitates police involvement. 

What should I do if I lost my loved one in a vehicle accident?

Losing a loved one is the worst thing a person can imagine. It is the most difficult time your family will likely face. Knowing that their death was the result of an individual’s negligence makes it much more difficult to process than if they had died of natural causes. In many cases, it is so sudden that the family doesn’t get to say goodbye.

It is important that you get counseling after suffering such a tragic loss. From there, hiring a wrongful death lawyer can help protect your family from financial hardships. They will ensure that while you grieve, they are determining who is at fault and preventing you from losing income.

Would worker's compensation pay for my loved one who was killed on the job?

Worker’s compensation includes death benefits, which are intended to compensate families for the financial loss of an employee who died due to a work-related accident or illness. However, much like a wrongful death lawsuit, only the direct living relatives of the deceased may make a claim for death benefits. These individuals must have lived with and depended on the deceased individual for their living expenses.

Eligibility varies from state to state, with some allowing for more family members to file for death benefits and others not finding that spouses qualify. 

Death benefits may be awarded even if the employee did not die on the job. If they die months or years later, but their death was a direct result of an accident or illness obtained while on the job, then their surviving family may be able to collect death benefits.

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