The first thing you should know is that no two cases are alike. The average wrongful death settlement will differ depending on the magnitude and circumstances of your case.
In fact, there isn’t an average wrongful death settlement. Amounts vary so much it would be impossible to settle on one average number.
The second thing you should know is that you shouldn’t feel guilty for wondering about money in the wake of a tragic death. If your family loses its breadwinner, it’s only natural that once the funeral is over, you might begin to think about money.
Louisiana law allows family members to receive compensation after a loss if another person’s negligence caused it. The amount of compensation you can receive depends on a variety of factors, including tangible and intangible losses.
What Is A Wrongful Death?
It’s important that you understand what makes up a wrongful death claim before we talk about what an average wrongful death settlement looks like.
In Louisiana, wrongful death is when a person dies due to the fault of another. This other entity who is at fault can be another human being or a corporation. A wrongful death may happen due to an accident or a purposeful action. In other words, wrongful death can result from everything from negligence to recklessness to intentional conduct.
A wrongful death claim is like a personal injury claim, except the injured person is unable to bring their own case to court. In this case, their surviving family members bring the case to court.
Due to the more serious nature of a wrongful death case, the types of damages surviving family members can receive are different than in personal injury claims. The stakes are considerably higher.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim In Louisiana?
Louisiana law specifies the family members that can file wrongful death claims. The following parties can file a wrongful death claim in Louisiana:
- The surviving spouse or children of the deceased person,
- If there are no surviving spouses or children, the surviving parent or parents
- If there are no surviving parents, the surviving siblings of the deceased person, or
- If there are no surviving siblings, the surviving grandparents.
In any of these categories, adopted family members fall into the same category as their biological counterparts. Adopted siblings carry the same weight as biological siblings.
Louisiana law does not allow parents who abandoned the child in childhood to file a wrongful death claim.
How to Determine How Much Money You’ve Lost for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
There is no amount of money that can replace a lost loved one. But the loss of a family member also means financial losses, such as:
- The value of household services. For example, if your wife cooks and cleans for you, if she dies you need to hire someone to do those things now.
- Future financial support
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The loss of gifts or benefits your loved one would have given if they had lived.
These calculations are not easy. It’s impossible to predict the future, after all. But you can estimate the financial support your loved one could have given based on their age, education, experience, and work history.
You can also receive medical expenses your loved one incurred before death. This can include pain and suffering your loved one endured in their final days.
The average wrongful death settlement will revolve around these calculations.
Tangible financial losses are not the only losses that factor into the average wrongful death settlement. Emotional losses include:
- Loss of affection
- Loss of moral support
- Loss of companionship
These types of losses are different because there is no bill or receipt that defines them. There is no economist or financial expert that can put a price tag on emotional distress. An experienced wrongful death attorney can advise you on how to present proof of your intangible losses.
In some cases, you could receive as much compensation for your intangible losses as for the tangible ones.
Factors That May Reduce The Average Wrongful Death Settlement
There are some cases where you might receive less than you expect from your wrongful death settlement. There are a few reasons this might happen.
For instance, your loved one may have contributed to their own accident. Though it is tragic, it is possible for victims to be negligent. As an example, your loved one might not have used a signal while riding a bicycle. A commercial truck could rear-end your family member or friend because they stopped suddenly.
In this situation, unfortunately, the victim of the tragic accident does bear some of the blame. The amount you can receive in a settlement will decrease by some percentage as a result.
For example, if you estimate $3 million in a settlement but the court determines your loved one was 50% at fault, you will only receive $1.5 million.
You can also receive less in a settlement if:
- You wait too long. Like with other legal actions, there is a statute of limitations on a wrongful death claim. Louisiana gives the surviving family members one year to file a wrongful death claim. If you miss this deadline, you cannot receive a settlement.
- You don’t hire an experienced wrongful death attorney. Wrongful death cases are not like other cases. There are unique legal and factual hurdles. You need to hire an attorney who understands the law surrounding wrongful death claims to maximize the average wrongful death settlement.
Contact Gordon & Gordon Today!
The law firm of Gordon & Gordon has been representing the people of Shreveport-Bossier for decades. At Gordon & Gordon, we understand that money is the last thing you want to think about after losing a loved one.
Gordon & Gordon can handle your wrongful death claim with integrity, efficiency, and compassion. Better, they have the knowledge and experience to maximize the average wrongful death settlement for you.
For more information about wrongful death claims, the average wrongful death settlement, or to discuss your case, call 318.716.HELP. You can also send us a message with a brief description of your case.