What to Do After Losing a Loved One in an Accident

Losing a loved one is difficult under any circumstance, but especially when the loss occurs after an unexpected accident. While you’re grieving, it may be challenging to remember all the steps to take in the days and weeks that follow.

Below, the experienced attorneys at Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson explain the basic steps you’ll need to take following a death.  If you have questions, contact us at 800-836-3702 to discuss your situation with an expert.

Talk to Dependents and Family Members

First and foremost, make arrangements to care for any dependents (including pets) your loved one cared for. Ask other family members for help. Don’t feel you should shoulder the burden alone.

Locate Legal Documents

Find your loved one’s will or statement. If the deceased left a will, trust, or other binding document, then it’s possible funeral arrangements and other considerations are listed in these documents.

You may also need to address your loved one’s financial situation, however, a bank can only take instruction regarding a deceased person’s accounts from someone authorized to act on behalf of the deceased’s estate—usually listed in a will or trust.

If no formal estate planning has been prepared, his process may include probate or letters of administration from a court.

If all else fails, a trust or estate attorney can help you transfer assets or assist with any probate issues that may occur.

Notify Employers

Notify your employer and ask for bereavement leave.

Contact your loved one’s employer (if he or she was working) and inform them of your loved one’s death. Ask about benefits and any due payments—find out if a life insurance policy exists. 

Make Funeral & Burial Arrangements

In Louisiana, the medical examiner should be able to provide a death certificate within a 24-hour period. The funeral home will file this certificate with the appropriate agency on your behalf.

Be sure to get certified copies of the death certificate so you can settle the estate, contact insurance and/or apply for your loved one’s benefits, if applicable. 

Next, make arrangements with a mortuary or crematorium. If the deceased served in the military, he or she may be entitled to veteran benefits.

If desired, you or a family member can write an obituary and place it in the local paper.

Contact Insurance

Check your loved one’s insurance policy to see how quickly you need to inform the insurance company about the death. Multiple insurance policies may apply, such as car, health, and life insurance.

You will likely need to send written notice of the death via certified mail to each provider within each respective time frame. 

Notify Agencies

Inform any agencies that were sending benefits to your loved one, such as Social Security or pensions, according to their policies.

Surviving family members may be entitled to the deceased’s benefits, but you’ll have to send the appropriate documentation specified by the agency. Surviving family members, for example, are prohibited from cashing Social Security checks that arrive after their loved one’s death.

Manage Property

Depending on your family’s living arrangement, utilities and personal services may need to be canceled. If the home is now vacant, you may want to work with the police to make sure your loved one’s home stays safe.

You’ll also need to make plans to secure other property such as cars, boats or storage units. 

Settle the Estate

Once you notify your loved one’s bank, the bank will freeze all accounts. Cancel credit cards, unless your name is also on them.

In Louisiana, your loved one’s succession representative, or the executor, is the person your loved one appointed in his or her will to handle the succession (inheritance) process.

The succession representative must file the will in court. The succession representative will also need to inventory and evaluate the estate, pay outstanding debts and taxes, and seek court approval to distribute estate property. 

Understand Your Legal Options

If you’ve lost a loved one as a result of someone’s negligence, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation.

According to Louisiana statute, family members have one year from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim.

Wrongful death claims typically occur after accidents involving motor vehicles, medical malpractice, or workplace accidents. Louisiana laws allow you to file a wrongful death claim to recover costs including (but not limited to) funeral expenses and lost wages.

While no amount of money can compensate the loss of a loved one, financial recovery can help ease transitional periods and uncertainty.

At Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson, our experienced wrongful death attorneys can help you understand your legal options. We have decades of experience in making sure victims’ families get the justice they deserve.

For more helpful information, ‘like’ Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson on Facebook, or call our Lake-Charles location at 800-836-3702.

What Is Wrongful Death?

Some of the worst accidents in our state could have been prevented. In 2018, for example, there were more than 700 fatal car crashes in Louisiana. More than 40 percent of these accidents involved alcohol.

If you’ve lost a loved one in an accident or following an injury, you may have questions about how to recover financially.

At Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson, we’re here to answer your questions and help you understand Louisiana laws about wrongful death.  Continue reading “What Is Wrongful Death?”

Whiplash: What You Need To Know

In rear-impact car accidents, scorched tires and dented fenders are often not the only damage.

Each year, approximately 800,000 individuals sustain a whiplash injury, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Below, the experienced car accident attorneys at Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson share their experience and explain what to do if you or a loved one suffers whiplash. Continue reading “Whiplash: What You Need To Know”

When Do You Need A Car Accident Lawyer

At Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel, & Wilson, we offer experience at every stage of the claims process, which includes helping victims decide whether to hire a lawyer in the first place.

If you’ve been in an accident and you’re trying to determine if you need a car accident lawyer, consider the following information before making your decision. Continue reading “When Do You Need A Car Accident Lawyer”

Louisiana Distracted Driving Laws Explained

This year, House Bill 619, which would have prohibited the use of all wireless telecommunication devices in moving vehicles, unless the driver uses hands-free technology, made its way to the Senate in May but fizzled out by mid-November.

“Currently our state is 49th in the U.S. for the most distracted drivers,” Rep. Mike Huval said in a local report. “We’re the seventh highest for traffic fatalities in the United States.”

Below, the injury lawyers at Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson explain Louisiana’s current distracted driving laws and why the House-backed proposal didn’t pass.

Louisiana’s Distracted Driving Laws

Distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the road.

Although distractions are apparent in a variety of driving behaviors like eating, personal grooming, tuning the radio, etc., cell phone use tops the list in our state.

In an effort to reduce crashes, cell phone laws were passed in 2008. Specifically, the laws prohibit the use of wireless telecommunication devices for text messaging while operating a vehicle.

Our laws also restrict young and inexperienced drivers: drivers less than 18 years old or in their first year of licensure are prohibited from using any wireless communication device while driving. These laws also apply to adults with a learner’s permit or intermediate license.

Furthermore, school zone laws prohibit all drivers from using any wireless device when driving through a school zone.

While these laws may seem ordinary, clarification is required to establish what’s meant by text-based communication.

For example, Louisiana’s current text ban extends to posting or communicating on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. However, it does not include manually dialing a phone number to call a friend or taking selfies.

This has made it challenging for law enforcement to enforce distracted driving laws effectively.

House Bill 619 would have closed this loophole by making it illegal to hold a cell phone in one or both hands while driving.

Why Did House Bill 619 Fail?

According to the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles, the number one driver distraction involved in most crashes is cell phone use; specifically, texting, and especially among teen drivers.

However, critics of House Bill 619 say there’s a clear distinction between holding a phone to one’s ear and responding to an email via text.

Some suggested Louisiana should change the penalty from a non-moving violation to a moving violation, which could potentially increase a driver’s insurance premiums.

Others argue the new legislation adversely affects the poor, “who don’t have newer cars with Bluetooth capability, more advanced smartphones, or money for headsets.”

It’s difficult to find consensus on the primary issue: do hands-free cell phone laws decrease crash statistics? Early studies suggested they do not, but many proponents of hands-free cell phone laws believe it’s the first step in the right direction.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “We know that high-visibility campaigns and enforcement, like Click It or Ticket and Drunk Driving. Over The Limit. Under Arrest has had a positive influence on driver behavior. That’s why seat belt use is at an all-time high of 84 percent and drunk driving is declining.”

More than a dozen states have implemented bans similar to House Bill 619, but inaction from the Louisiana Senate killed the proposal in November.

Get updates about important issues! ‘Like’ Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson on Facebook for local safety information and more.

Louisiana Statutes of Limitations Explained

If you’ve been injured or suffered a loss because of someone’s careless behavior or negligence, understanding Louisiana’s statutes of limitations can be critical to your claim.

Statutes of limitations address an important component of civil and criminal proceedings: the effects of time. Specifically, how much time can pass before reliable evidence may become compromised.

Below, the attorneys at Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson discuss Louisiana’s statutes of limitations in more detail. Continue reading “Louisiana Statutes of Limitations Explained”

Do I Have a Case?

Accidents are unexpected, unfortunate incidents that sometimes result in damage or injury. But what you do after an accident shouldn’t be left to chance or circumstance.

If you’ve been injured, the first step toward recovery is determining if you have a case. This step-by-step guide can help you weigh your options.

Below, the attorneys at Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson explain what makes a viable personal injury case. Continue reading “Do I Have a Case?”

When Do Defective Products Get Recalled?

Defective products and recalls are not synonymous terms: the former is often the result of an absent or ineffective recall; the latter is a process initiated by a manufacturer when a product poses a public safety risk.

Below, the personal injury lawyers from Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson explore the differences between product recalls and defective products, how to avoid dangerous products, and what to do if a defective product causes injury. Continue reading “When Do Defective Products Get Recalled?”

SSD Denial: What You Need To Know

frustrated-woman-paperwork

Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSD, is a government-funded program managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The program is funded by payroll tax contributions; it covers every employee paying into social security.

However, just because you’ve been injured doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get SSD benefits.

In fact, the majority of Louisiana’s SSD applicants are denied benefits during the application process—approximately 65 percent of initial claims are denied.

Rejected claims are typically the result of missing records, improper filing, or lack of legal advocacy.

If your Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits have been denied, don’t panic. Below, the social security disability lawyers at Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson explain Louisiana’s SSD appeals process.   Continue reading “SSD Denial: What You Need To Know”