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What are the elements of a wrongful death claim?

It is an unfortunate reality that dangerous accidents occur every day in America. Some accidents leave victims with minor harm, others with life-altering injuries. In the worst of cases, death can result. What recourse do Louisiana residents have when an accident is caused by the negligence of another party? Some people may know that a wrongful death lawsuit may be a possibility. But, what are the elements of a wrongful death claim?

Well, the first and most obvious element is that a family suffers the loss of a loved one. Whether the death was the result of a medical mistake, a fatal workplace accident, or a car accident, there must be a death for a wrongful death claim to proceed.

Next, and perhaps most crucially, the death must have been caused due to another party's negligence or recklessness. Proving this element of a case can be the most difficult part of the process. Like any personal injury claim, the party pursuing the claim must prove that the negligent party owed a duty to the deceased party, that the duty was breached, and that the breach caused the death.

Beyond these first two elements, it must be proven that as a result of the death there are surviving family members who suffer monetary harm due to the loss. Was the deceased person the primary income earner for the family? If so, there is probably a good chance that the remaining family members aren't able to meet their financial needs. Lastly, before a wrongful death lawsuit can proceed, a personal representative of the deceased person's estate must be appointed.

Although the elements may seem simple enough, they can be fraught with legal challenges. For this reason, it may be wise for surviving family members to think about acquiring legal assistance when pursuing a wrongful death claim.

Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death Overview," Accessed Dec. 4, 2016

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