Losing a loved one is never easy. If the death was the result of an illness, you may have had time to prepare yourself, but that doesn’t make grieving less painful. However, there is an extra layer of pain and shock involved when a family loses someone unexpectedly. Sudden medical events or a motor vehicle crash could end a life quickly, leaving family members and friends to grieve not only the loss of life, but the loss of a future with their loved one.
When a death is the result of a car crash caused by someone else, there is often a lot of anger directed toward that other driver. In cases of neglect, distraction or intoxication, you may push law enforcement to pursue criminal charges related to the crash. Whether or not there’s a criminal conviction, your family may need to consider pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit.
A wrongful death suit can offer justice if a conviction does not
Sometimes, there just isn’t enough evidence to obtain a criminal conviction. The other driver could refuse to take a chemical test, making it impossible to fully prove there was chemical impairment at the time of the crash. That, in turn, could be enough to give jurors reasonable doubt in a criminal trial. It’s possible for someone who caused a fatal crash to end up walking away without a conviction in some cases.
Regardless of how the criminal courts handle the case, you have the option to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit in most drunk driving cases. Louisiana law is very clear about wrongful death lawsuits. Surviving spouses, children, parents, siblings or even grandparents in certain situations may bring a wrongful death lawsuit. The only requirement for bringing the lawsuit is that the defendant must have caused a death through his or her own fault.
A lawsuit can penalize the other driver
Although you’d probably prefer to see a criminal conviction for the person who ended the life of your loved one, sometimes, that isn’t an option. Other times, the penalty is minor. You have the option to bring a wrongful death lawsuit regardless of a criminal conviction.
While filing and winning this kind of lawsuit won’t end your grief or bring back your loved one, it can help you hold the other driver accountable for getting behind the wheel while drunk.
A wrongful death lawsuit lets you sue for damages, including lost wages, medical expenses, property damage and the cost of a funeral. In some cases, you may receive additional damages, called putative damages, intended to punish the defendant for causing the death.
Seeking damages can relieve some of the strain the sudden loss of a loved one can cause, while also providing you with a sense of justice.