The family of a recent law school graduate whose torso was found severed from the rest of her body is now seeking further answers that perhaps authorities and prosecutors are not yet able to give them. To do so, they have filed a wrongful death suit against the young woman’s alleged killer, Stephen McDaniel. However, the family has done so fully aware that even if he does manage to prevail in his ongoing criminal case, he will likely not have the money to pay any judgment stemming from this wrongful death claim.

McDaniel has been charged with felony murder and has pled not guilty, affirmatively maintaining his innocence in this case. In the newly filed civil case, the claims against McDaniel include: wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress and interference with the right of burial. Giddings’ family is seeking $5 million in damages but are unlikely to recover nearly that amount due to McDaniel’s insolvency. However, the family does hope that a judgment would prevent McDaniel from keeping any money he might make in the future. By filing this civil suite, the family also hopes to uncover more answers surrounding the death. The civil suit may give the family access to information that police and prosecutors cannot obtain without going through the process of getting a search warrant..

Generally, only children or a spouse can bring a claim for wrongful death in the state of Louisiana. However, in cases like Giddings’ who died unmarried and without children, parents of the deceased are able to pursue a claim on behalf of their children.

Whether the death resulted from a fatal accident or a violent crime, a family who loses a loved one because of another person’s wrongful actions suffers both emotionally and financially. While he or she cannot bring a love one back, an attorney can help surviving family members to obtain the compensation they need to meet the unexpected financial obligations associated with a person’s death. Financial compensation can never replace the lost loved one, but it can ensure that financial burdens are lifted so that families can focus on healing from their loss.

Source: ABA Journal, “Family of slain law grad Laure Giddings files wrongful death suit,” Martha Neil, June 18, 2013