Monday, October 3

Can a Sibling File a Wrongful Death Suit?

In Louisiana, it’s possible for a sibling to file a wrongful death lawsuit, but only if the decedent’s children, spouse, and parents are no longer alive.

Even though siblings may be close in life, legally there is a great distance between them. However, if those family members are alive, you will likely be unable to file on your sibling’s behalf. Knowing your rights can spare you and your surviving family problems that could arise in the event of confusion about who has filing rights.

What is a Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death occurs when someone dies as a result of the actions of another person or entity, such as a corporation, which may be intentional or unintentional. The Louisiana Civil Code Section 2315.1 establishes that a wrongful death occurs when someone dies to the fault of another.

A wrongful death lawsuit may stand alone as a civil case or may follow in the wake of criminal charges. If you have lost a family member due to wrongful death in Lafayette, LA, you may benefit from a free consultation with a lawyer to learn about your options.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

If your loved one died due to the actions of another individual, it’s likely that their death could qualify for a wrongful death lawsuit. However, it’s unlikely that a sibling may be able to file on their behalf for several reasons. Some family members have greater rights to file wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of their loved ones than others. Each of these members is divided into several classes, each with priority over the other when it comes to filing a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • The deceased’s surviving spouse and children
  • The deceased’s parents
  • The deceased’s siblings
  • The deceased’s grandparents

The right to file only moves from one class to another if all members of one class are themselves deceased or otherwise legally unable to file (such as if the parents had abandoned their child). A sibling would not be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their deceased sibling’s behalf unless the deceased’s spouse, children, and parents were also dead.

What Damages Are Covered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Louisiana allows those who file wrongful death lawsuits to collect both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are as follows:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost current and future wages and benefits
  • Funeral expenses
  • The value of lost household services
  • Property damage associated with the wrongful death

Noneconomic losses include losses that cannot be quantified and can include the following:

  • The deceased’s pain and suffering in their final moments
  • Loss of companionship
  • Pain and emotional suffering of survivors
  • Loss of wisdom and guidance from the deceased
  • Loss of emotional support

When Should You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

You will only have a limited amount of time after your loved one’s death in which to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. In Louisiana, wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within the first year of a person’s death. Most civil suits in Louisiana allow for only a one-year filing window, and wrongful death suits are no exception.

If you file a year after the death, then in all likelihood the defendant will successfully appeal, claiming that the case is time-barred.

Wrongful death can rob you of years with your sibling and create lasting economic and emotional damage. However, your ability to file on your sibling’s behalf will likely be limited. Working with a lawyer experienced in wrongful death cases can help you position yourself to achieve the best possible outcome given your circumstances.

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