When a New Orleans family suffers the loss of a family member due to the fault of another, a wrongful death lawsuit against the person responsible must be commenced within one year of the date of death. This lawsuit is brought by family members to recover damages suffered as a result of family members untimely death. Which family member(s) may pursue a claim depends on the structure of the family.
Louisiana Civil Code section 2315.2 provides the following breakdown of who may pursue a wrongful death action:
(1) The surviving spouse and child or children of the deceased, or either the spouse or the child or children;
(2) The surviving father and mother of the deceased, or either of them if there is no spouse or child surviving;
(3) The surviving brothers and sisters of the deceased, or any of them, if there is no spouse, child or parent surviving; and
(4) The surviving grandfathers and grandmothers of the deceased, or any of them, if there is no spouse, child, parent, or sibling surviving.
The existence of a beneficiary in a higher category bars those in the lower categories from any recovery in a wrongful death case. As a result, in most cases, the family members most closely related to the deceased must bring the lawsuit.
The right to bring a lawsuit includes adopted family members who fit within the above categories. A parent who abandoned the deceased while he or she was still a child, however, is specifically barred from bringing any claim.
In a wrongful death action, each eligible beneficiary is entitled to a separate award for his or her damages, which may include loss of love, affection, services, support, society, and grief.
If your family has suffered a wrongful death and you need advice, please feel free to call us at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.