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Family awarded $500,000 after fatal crash with Baton Rouge police

No wrongful death claim has ever been brought with the intention of achieving the impossible -- or of bringing back the loved one who was taken. But a wrongful death claim can provide some financial relief to a family confronted with burial expenses, medical bills and other costs resulting from another party's negligence. In these cases, it is important that grieving families have an attorney on their side to maximize the amount of compensation.

A Louisiana court of appeal recently upheld a trial court ruling in the death of an 83-year-old man whose turning vehicle was struck by a speeding police car. Just before the accident, the officer was reportedly going 92 miles per hour without having activated the squad car's lights and sirens. As the now-deceased 83-year-old tried to turn left, the police car hit his vehicle at a speed of 52 miles per hour.

The elderly man suffered injuries that left him paralyzed below the waist. While he was hospitalized, he was also diagnosed with cancer, and he passed away nearly three months after the collision.

After his death, the man's three sons continued to pursue his negligence claim against the police department, adding three claims of wrongful death.

Initially, the trial court found the Baton Rouge Police Department liable and awarded the family $1 million, with each son to receive an additional $10,000. However, the sons and the police department appealed the decision. The sons argued that they should receive more than $10,000 apiece.

The court of appeal upheld the trial jury's decision that the elderly man was not partly at fault in the collision, and that the crash was a factor in his death. However, the three-judge panel also reduced the family's compensation to $500,000 after hearing a witness testify that the father and his sons were not very close.

The case illustrates how complicated questions of liability can be. To achieve the best possible outcome in a wrongful death lawsuit, it is important to have help from a personal injury attorney with experience in bringing this kind of legal claim.

To learn more about The Law Offices of W.A. "Chip" Forestall, Jr., please visit our wrongful death overview.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Death from Dangerous Chase Will Cost Police," Jeff D. Gorman, Sept. 19, 2014

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