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Wrongful death lawsuits and criminal justice in Louisiana

After a fatal traffic accident caused by a negligent driver, Louisiana families look to the police and the criminal courts to see that justice is done. However, the criminal justice system - despite its many strengths - is not necessarily the best place to see the needs of the victim's family are met.

Recently, a Louisiana man was sentenced to just a year of probation after an accident in which another man was killed. Police said the accident occurred when the victim was riding a motorized scooter on his way to work. The other man was driving a pickup truck and apparently pulled in front of the scooter. The scooter driver, a married father of three, was wearing a helmet but died from his injuries when he was unable to stop in time.

Prosecutors declined to charge the pickup driver with negligent homicide, and so he was charged only with failure to yield. He will be forced to pay a $1,000 fine and court costs, as well as a $70 monthly fee for probation services.

According to news reports, the man tried to apologize to the victim's family members who were in the courtroom, but they got up and left as he was testifying.

Under Louisiana law, when someone is killed in a car accident caused by another driver's negligence, the victim's family members may be compensated for their monetary damages through a wrongful death lawsuit. In this way, family members can recover the loss of their loved one's income, as well as other damages.

A Louisiana attorney with experience handling these sensitive cases can help families to understand how a wrongful death lawsuit works. Although these lawsuits can't bring back a loved one, they can help a family cope with a sudden loss. They can also be a way of holding negligent drivers accountable.

Source:, "Jefferson man gets a year of probation in fatal scooter collision," Paul Purpura, May 7, 2014

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