Lamothe Wrongful Death Attorneys

New Orleans Wrongful Death Attorneys

flowers on a grave

The financial burdens related to losing a loved one can add up quickly. In addition to funeral and burial costs, you may be left responsible for your loved one’s medical bills and other end-of-life expenses. You may also have lost a significant contribution to your family’s financial stability and wonder how you will make ends meet. The loss of day-to-day support with household chores and childcare responsibilities can be overwhelming.

Such a loss can throw your life into a state of chaos. Financial burdens on top of your grief can seem insurmountable. You may be reluctant to pursue legal action, worrying that doing so will prolong your family’s grief and prevent you from moving on.

A wrongful death lawsuit is a way to obtain justice for your loved one’s death, prevent others from suffering similar tragedies, and provide a more stable financial future for your family. It can help you close the door to a painful chapter of your life and begin building a new future for your family. 

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In Louisiana, only certain parties can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. These include the deceased’s surviving:

  • Spouse and children.
  • Parent(s) if there is no surviving spouse or child.
  • Siblings if there is no surviving spouse, child, or parent. 
  • Grandparent if none of the previous relations to the deceased exist. 

Adopted parties have the same rights as blood relatives in these cases, but relations by marriage (like stepsiblings or stepparents) do not. The law bars a parent who abandoned the deceased as a minor or a surviving relative who is convicted of causing their death.

Could I Have a Wrongful Death Claim?

If the death of your loved one was caused by someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentional behavior, you may be able to bring a wrongful death claim. 

Many types of accidents and situations can give rise to wrongful death claims, including:

Many other types of incidents caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts or omissions of a person, company, or organization could warrant a wrongful death claim. For example, a person’s family might be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against

  • An intoxicated driver who caused a fatal accident.
  • A construction company that negligently failed to erect guardrails around a quarry.
  • A neighbor who recklessly shot off fireworks, causing a deadly house fire.

Crimes such as battery, arson, or robbery that result in death may be prosecuted by the criminal authorities. Criminal charges are not the same as a civil lawsuit. To recover damages for your loved one’s wrongful death, you must pursue a civil action. An experienced attorney can help determine whether a lawsuit is appropriate to your situation.

What's the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Action and a Survival Action?

Louisiana law allows surviving family members to file two different types of claims to recover damages for their loved one’s death. If appropriate, both types of claims may be filed. 

A wrongful death claim seeks damages for the survivors’ losses. The person who files suit initiates a wrongful death action seeking compensation for the losses they and their family have suffered as a result of their loved one’s death. Types of damages that may be available in a Louisiana wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • Medical expenses. 
  • Funeral and burial/interment/cremation costs. 
  • Loss of economic support (the loss of the deceased’s expected future earnings). 
  • Loss of services (the value of household services like housework, yard work, and childcare).
  • Loss of consortium (the loss of the deceased’s care, companionship, advice, guidance, counsel, instruction, and society).
  • Loss of a conditional inheritance or pension.
  • Compensation for mental anguish and emotional suffering by the surviving family members.

It may also be possible for an eligible surviving family member to make an additional claim for mental anguish and emotional distress if they witnessed the fatal occurrence or came upon the scene shortly after the injuries occurred. 

A survival action claim is filed on behalf of the victim. The person filing the claim can “step into the shoes” of the decedent for some claims. These are personal injury claims that the decedent would have been entitled to file against the responsible parties if they had lived. The law allows these claims to “survive” their death so their representative can pursue them. 

Survival actions are often filed when someone is injured by another’s negligence but does not die immediately. This could be a period of days or weeks in critical condition, a period of years in an unconscious state, or a period of years of treatment following exposure to toxic chemicals. 

A survival action enables the surviving family to recover additional types of damages, including:

  • Medical expenses incurred between the accident or cause of the injury and the victim’s death (such as surgeries, transplant costs, rehabilitation, pain management, alternative therapies, and other interventions).
  • Compensation for the decedent’s pain and suffering. 
  • Vehicle and property damage.

A survival claim can help families recover full and fair compensation for their loved one’s injuries, especially in the most devastating and complex situations. 

Are Other Damages Recoverable in Wrongful Death Claims?

If the occurrence or circumstances that caused your loved one’s death were the result of a party’s “wanton and reckless disregard for the rights and safety of the decedent,” you may be able to request additional compensation called “exemplary damages.” Exemplary (or “punitive”) damages are paid to survivors to punish the wrongdoer if a court determines their conduct was especially appalling. 

Types of wrongful death cases that may warrant an award of exemplary damages include those related to:

  • Domestic violence.
  • Drunk or impaired operation of a vehicle.
  • Intentional attacks.
  • Dangerous or defective products.
  • Public health and safety violations.

If the court grants an award of exemplary damages, it can allocate that recovery to the victim, the court or its agencies, the state, or wherever it sees fit. For example, a court might give an exemplary damages award related to a domestic violence death to a program helping families escape domestic violence.

Time Limits on Louisiana Wrongful Death Claims

When you’re struggling with grief, scrambling to make ends meet, and worrying about your family’s future, deciding to consult with an attorney may seem overwhelming. However, acting quickly to preserve your rights is essential, even if you ultimately decide not to pursue a claim.

Louisiana law limits the time you have to bring a lawsuit. Generally, a claim for wrongful death or a survival action must be filed within one year of the date of death. Louisiana’s statutes of limitations are some of the shortest in the country. If you don’t file a lawsuit before the allotted time expires, you may lose your right to recover anything from the responsible parties.

It’s best to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Once you retain counsel, they can conduct a thorough investigation, obtain and preserve evidence, and pursue the best strategy for recovering your claim and holding the responsible parties accountable. Your attorney can guide you through the legal process and help you deal with other complex issues related to your loved one’s death. 

We Have Successfully Represented Many Clients in Wrongful Death Actions

Not every attorney can deliver justice to a family that pursues a claim for the wrongful death of a loved one. It takes experience, skill, compassion, and the stamina for prolonged courtroom litigation. Because most cases don’t go to trial, quickly determining the facts, negligence or misconduct, and appropriate damages is critical for obtaining the preferred outcome. 

The attorneys at Lamothe Law Firm have decades of experience fighting – and winning – for our clients. Here are a few of the successful outcomes we’ve secured:

$2,075,520.07 – WRONGFUL DEATH CASE – Award

Synopsis: A volunteer firefighter was struck and killed by a motorist at the site of a hazardous material spill. The firefighter’s widow, our client, and their minor children filed a wrongful death survival action against the State of Louisiana, alleging it was liable because it failed to secure the initial accident site. This failure led to a motorist striking our client’s husband, a responder working at the scene. The matter proceeded to trial and the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of plaintiffs and against the State of Louisiana holding the State 80 percent at fault for causing the death of our client’s husband.

Award: Judgment was rendered in a total amount of $2,075,520.07.

HIGH SEAS ACT WRONGFUL DEATH – Confidential Settlement

Synopsis: Our client, as the personal representative and surviving widow of the deceased, brought this cause of action for wrongful death under the Death on the High Seas Act. Our client’s husband was killed while providing consulting services as a drilling consultant/foreman aboard a jack-up drilling barge/special purpose vessel. A gas blowout occurred, requiring an emergency evacuation of the vessel. Our client’s husband was helping other crew members evacuate the vessel just prior to his death.

Obstacles: He was not counted among the survivors and his body was never found.

Settlement: The case settled for a substantial sum.

WRONGFUL DEATH – Confidential Settlement

Synopsis: Our clients sued in the wrongful death of their five-year-old son. The child was belly surfing on a skateboard across the street from his home and was subsequently struck and killed by a pizza delivery person.

Obstacles: The Defendant’s position was that the driver of the car could not see our client’s son. The Defendants also claimed contributory negligence on the part of the child for his actions and his parents for inadequate supervision. We successfully asserted that at five years old, the child was incapable of contributory negligence. We hired an accident reconstruction expert who demonstrated through computer analysis that the driver had ample time to see the child prior to striking him.

Settlement: This case settled for a substantial amount of money just prior to a scheduled jury trial.

How We Can Serve You

To recover the compensation you deserve for the loss of your loved one, you need a legal advocate on your side with the right skills, experience, and knowledge. Our firm is experienced and recognized in the legal community as a leader in personal injury and wrongful death representation in New Orleans.

We know this is an overwhelming and painful time. We will compassionately work with you to pursue the best possible outcome and passionately fight to help you and your family obtain justice. We will work hard to ensure the parties responsible for the death of your loved one are held accountable, helping to protect others and prevent future tragedies.

If you have suffered the loss of a loved one in an accident or other potentially actionable circumstances, contact the legal team at Lamothe Law Firm today. We are here to help you fight for the justice your loved one deserves.

Frank Lamothe has been consistently recognized as one of the leading trial attorneys in Louisiana and the nation.

Listed in Best Lawyers in America

  • Listed in Super Lawyers
  • Invited member, American College of Trial Lawyers
  • Invited member, American Board of Trial Advocates
  • Member, The Litigation Counsel of America
  • Member, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100
  • Listed as Nation’s Top 1% by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel

Lamothe Law Firm has won national accolades as well.

  • Best Law Firms – U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers

Why Hire Us

Lamothe Law Firm Best Lawyers 2018
U.S. News Best Law Firm Badge
AV Preeminent Rating Badge
American Board of Trial Advocates
New Orleans Magazine top Lawyers
Super Lawyers Badge
National Association of Distinguished Counsel Top One Percent Badge
MultiMillion Dollar Advocates Forum Badge
National trial lawyers Badge
2018 CityBusiness Leadership in Law Award