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How Long Do You Have To File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Louisiana?

If you are considering filing a wrongful death in Louisiana, remember that you must do so before the one-year filing deadline passes. Our Louisiana wrongful death attorneys at Shamieh Law are standing by to make sure you know your legal rights and do not miss the all-important deadline. If you file late, your case will most likely be dismissed. We will make sure that does not happen.

The Louisiana wrongful death statute sets a one-year liberative prescription, more commonly known as a statute of limitations in other jurisdictions, for filing a claim seeking compensation for the death of your loved one. Subject to very limited exceptions, a judge will most likely dismiss your case if you do not file your lawsuit on time. Our experienced injury attorneys can help you navigate the complex laws governing Louisiana wrongful deaths so you don’t miss critical deadlines.

If you have questions about how long you have to sue for wrongful death in Louisiana, contact the knowledgeable and compassionate wrongful death lawyers at Shamieh Law. We are here to help you and your family navigate the legal aftermath of your loved one’s passing. Do not hesitate to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

When Does the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations Start Running?

In most cases involving personal injury, the filing countdown starts on the date of injury. Ho0wever, wrongful death lawsuits in Louisiana must be filed within one year of the decedent’s passing. This generates some important consequences.

For example, suppose someone is fatally injured in a car accident, but their death does not actually occur until weeks after the crash. In this scenario, the filing deadline would be one year from the date of death, not one year from the date of the crash.

Exceptions to Louisiana’s Wrongful Death Filing Deadline

Though the filing deadline in wrongful death cases is strictly enforced by courts, there may be some exceptions that extend it. This section explores a few of those potential exceptions. However, before relying on any of them, it is wise to consult with an experienced wrongful death lawyer to make sure they apply to your case.

Minors as Plaintiffs

If a minor loses a loved one due to the careless actions of another, the wrongful death statute of limitations doesn’t start running until they turn eighteen. When they do, the one-year countdown begins.

Concealment of Actions by the Defendant

If a potential defendant does something to prevent a plaintiff from realizing they have a cause of action, the filing deadline may be adjusted. This ensures that would-be plaintiffs are not unfairly denied their day in court.

The Discovery Rule

The filing deadline could also be paused until the plaintiff knows, or reasonably should have known, that the defendant’s actions caused the death of their loved one. Sometimes referred to as the “discovery rule,” this exception also ensures that plaintiffs are not unfairly denied their day in court.

Multiple Defendants

In some cases, you may file your lawsuit against more than one party. For example, suppose two drivers cause a fatal car accident. One was driving while intoxicated. The other failed to signal before switching lanes. In such cases, the governing statute provides as follows: “Interruption of prescription against one joint tortfeasor is effective against all joint tortfeasors.”

Death Caused by a Criminal Act

If the death of your loved one was caused by a “crime of violence,” the filing deadline is extended to two years. For example, suppose they were killed in an armed robbery. The law would give you extra time to file your wrongful death claim.

Medical Malpractice

Wrongful death lawsuits stemming from medical malpractice must also be filed within one year. However, the governing statute includes an additional once-and-for-all deadline sometimes referred to as a “statute of repose.” Specifically, it states that “such claims shall be filed at the latest within a period of three years from the date of the alleged act, omission, or neglect” that led to the fatal injury.

Who Can File a Louisiana Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Louisiana has strict laws regarding who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In order of priority, eligible parties include:

  1. The surviving spouse and child or children
  2. Parents, if there is no surviving spouse or children
  3. Siblings, if there is no surviving spouse, children, or parents
  4. Grandparents, if there is no surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings

Parents who abandon their minor children do not have the right to file a Louisiana wrongful death lawsuit if that child dies. Further, the right to file wrongful death claims may be inherited, but inheritance does not interrupt or extend the filing deadline.

What Damages Can I Pursue in a Louisiana Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

You can pursue compensation for economic and non-economic damages in a Louisiana wrongful death lawsuit. Among other things, this may cover things like:

  • Medical expenses related to the fatal incident
  • Lost earnings from the decedent
  • Lost benefits, such as retirement funds or insurance
  • Pain and suffering of your deceased loved one
  • Loss of love, advice, guidance, protection, care, and companionship
  • Funeral and burial costs

In limited circumstances, you can also ask for punitive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. For example, you can ask for this form of damages if the death of your loved one was caused by the “wanton and reckless disregard” of a drunk driver for the safety of others.

Legal Help With Louisiana Wrongful Death Claims

If you and your family are grieving the loss of a loved one, our hearts go out to you. The Louisiana wrongful death attorneys at Shamieh Law have handled numerous wrongful death cases and understand how difficult it is to lose a family member due to the carelessness of others. Our knowledgeable and compassionate legal team is to provide support in your hour of need.

Contact our Lake Charles wrongful death lawsuit lawyers today to schedule your free consultation. You can reach us by calling (337) 477-7222 or completing our online contact form. You pay nothing unless we secure compensation on behalf of you and your family.

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