Whenever an Orleans Parish resident is killed as a result of the negligence of another person, the loved ones of the victim may want to learn more about pursuing damages in a wrongful death action. We have answered some fundamental questions about wrongful death cases in earlier blog postings. Here we will address some more common questions and important distinctions in this area of law. Please remember that this is general information only and is not meant to be specific advice applicable to your unique situation.
First, there is an important distinction that relates to the cause of the victim’s death. It specifically has to do with who can bring a claim. If the victim dies as a result of the injuries that are the subject of the wrongful death claim, the heirs of the victim may file the case and recover damages if they prevail. On the other hand, if the victim dies of an unrelated cause after the injury, the victim’s personal representative or executor can bring a personal injury case against the defendant.
One thing that many people find confusing is the difference between a wrongful death claim and a criminal prosecution. A criminal prosecution is brought by a prosecutor in the name of the state of Louisiana. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the offense in question. If convicted, the defendant will be subject to criminal penalties.
A wrongful death claim, on the other hand, is a civil claim brought by the heirs or personal representatives of the victim. The standard of proof for a wrongful death suit is lower than that of a criminal case. If they prove that the defendant breached their duty to the victim, causing the victim’s death, the victim’s loved ones may recover monetary damages from the defendant.
People with more questions about wrongful death can consult a wealth of resources on the topic, including attorneys who practice in the area.