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What the Derek Chauvin Verdict Means for Wrongful Death Cases

April 21, 2021

Yesterday around 4pm CST, Judge Peter Cahill read the jury’s verdict in the trial of former Officer Derek Chauvin for the killing of George Floyd: guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, guilty of third-degree murder, and guilty of second-degree manslaughter.

The verdict came as a welcome relief for many people across the country mourning the death of Floyd and other victims of police brutality.

What’s interesting is that the Floyd family's wrongful death claim was settled well before the criminal trial.

In fact, these types of personal injury claims often go hand-in-hand with criminal charges in cases of killings by police officers. And while a lawsuit can’t bring a loved one back, it can help the family of the victim heal and pay associated expenses after the fact.

If someone else caused your loss, you deserve help picking up the pieces of your life. Our New Orleans-based team at Wright Gray can provide you with solid, dedicated, and experienced representation. A wrongful death lawsuit is brought when someone dies as a result of someone else’s negligent or intentional act.

This type of claim arises in situations that look like a traditional personal injury case - except that the victim is killed as a result of the wrongful or negligent action.

Some examples of this type of situation include:

  • When a victim is intentionally killed
  • When a victim dies as a result of medical malpractice
  • When a victim has an injury on the job that results in death (typically considered a workers’ compensation case)
  • When a car accident results in fatalities that involve negligence

While preparing a wrongful death claim in New Orleans, it’s important to consider who would be able to file the claim under Louisiana law. A wrongful death suit is a type of personal injury claim, so the person closest to the deceased should be the one to file.There are many examples - including the killing of George Floyd - when a police officer is responsible for a citizen’s death, and most of them involve shootings, as well. 

But the verdict yesterday for criminal charges against a former police officer is something that happens very rarely.

Wright Gray attorney Daryl Gray says, “The Chauvin verdict shows a critical swing along the spectrum of police abuse claims in favor of the injured victims.”

But it’s important to remember that the wrongful death case of Floyd’s family ended in a settlement long before the criminal system got around to convicting Chauvin.

“The settlement is indicative of the Minneapolis government's position on bad actors who unjustly cause death or injury,” Mr. Gray explains. “Minneapolis didn't wait for a criminal verdict.  They assessed the situation and stepped up to make it right -- monetarily. That's critical.”

Pursuing these types of wrongful death and police misconduct claims is just another step on the path of accountability towards justice, and Mr. Gray says the results in these cases (both the criminal charges and the settlement) are a good sign.

He says, “This is an example of how police abuse cases should be handled going forward and I hope this level of justice serves as a beacon of hope for our whole country.”While you’re likely still grieving and picking up the pieces after losing a family member, it’s important to act now to get the compensation you deserve. Your loved one deserves that justice, and your family members need financial support to maintain their quality of life after this loss.

At Wright Gray, we understand that pain, and we’re ready to fight for you and your family and for the compensation you need to carry on with your life. If you’re ready to begin working with us, contact us for a free consultation with a New Orleans wrongful death lawyer.

We understand that these can be tough decisions, so we’ll walk you through what we can do for you every step of the way.


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