LA Wrongful Death FAQ - New Orleans Personal Injury Lawyers | Egenberg Trial Lawyers

LA Wrongful Death FAQ

What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Case and a Survival Action?

A wrongful death case is the claim that the family has after their loved one has died to pay them back for their own losses that they suffered. When their loved one dies, they suffer their own damages. Wrongful death cases are governed by a specific law that states who can file the case. It is a right that belongs to the family.

A survival action is the personal injury case that is brought on behalf of the deceased person for what they suffered before they died. It is their own personal injury claim that they could have filed on their own had they lived. This is a claim that belongs to the estate, and the proceeds of the survival action are divided according to the terms of the estate.


Can I Sue a Company for a Wrongful Death?

The law in Louisiana is that employees are considered to be agents of their company when they are doing their jobs. Anything that they do on the job is considered to be an act of the company, such that the company is liable if one of its employees causes damages. Further, if you buy a defective product from a company, the company itself is liable for any injuries. 

Corporate settlements and jury awards tend to be larger than if you are filing a lawsuit against an individual for something such as a fatal car accident. These companies maintain large insurance policies and have much higher cash reserves to pay settlements and verdicts. However, the higher dollar amounts involved may also mean that these cases are harder fought.


What Should I Do if I Receive a Wrongful Death Settlement Offer?

The insurance company knows full well how much your claim is worth once they have done their research and run it through their own army of professionals. At first, you should be wary of early settlement offers that they make. These often have two purposes:

  • To test you to see what you are willing to take
  • To save money by trying to get you to accept less than you legally deserve

This is why you should be careful about accepting a settlement offer too quickly. Have your lawyer review the figures to see whether this settlement offer is reasonable and how much lower than fair value it is. You can always reject the settlement offer. If that happens, you can either counter with your own offer or go to court and file a lawsuit.


Will My Wrongful Death Case Include Punitive Damages?

No. Wrongful death settlements do not include punitive damages. This is only the right that belongs to the person who passed away. The estate can file a survival action to recover for the damages that the deceased suffered before they died. This legal claim can include punitive damages, so the person or company that caused the death would not get away with extreme conduct that killed someone and caused them a great deal of suffering before their death. You are more likely to see this in a medical malpractice or product liability case. 


What Happens if the Family Does Not Agree on How to Divide the Proceeds of a Wrongful Death Case?

With one wrongful death claim, it is up to the family to work together to decide how to split the proceeds of any money that they receive. They must discuss it amongst themselves based on the needs of each individual person. In a best-case scenario, the family is able to agree on the distribution to each person. Unfortunately, not all families are able to come to this level of agreement. In that case, the court will decide the division of the case. They will look at the needs of each person who is a part of the lawsuit, and allocate them a certain percentage of an award. If there is no agreement on how to split a settlement, each person should consult with a lawyer. The family should consider mediation to help keep them out of court. When you bring a survival action, you do not need to worry about negotiating the division, since it is done in accordance with the percentages included in the will. 


What Damages Can a Family Recover in a Wrongful Death Action?

The family is able to recover for their own damages that they suffered in losing their loved one. Had the person lived, they would have contributed to the family through both their presence and their earning power. Some of the wrongful death damages will include:

  • Lost wages that the deceased family member would have earned
  • Compensation for the loss of support that the deceased person would have provided, both in companionship and guidance
  • Loss of consortium damages
  • Payment for the grief and the family’s pain and suffering from losing their loved one

In a wrongful death case, these damages can be considerable. This is why you should have an attorney value your claim and negotiate the settlement agreement with the defendant and their insurance company.


How Much Will a Wrongful Death Attorney Cost Out of My Pocket?

You would not need to lay out any money to hire a wrongful death attorney. In order to understand why there is no risk to you, we will explain how a personal injury attorney is paid. Your lawyer is only compensated if your case is successful, meaning that you have received money in the form of a settlement or jury award. We do not ask for a retainer, nor will we send you bills for our time while the case is pending. Once your claim settles, we receive a percentage of your proceeds based on the representation agreement that you sign when you first hire us. If you do not win, we do not get paid for the time that we put into your case. This is why you have every reason in the world to get legal help.