The loss of a loved one is a difficult time to process, which is why surviving loved ones will sometimes seek to hold someone accountable for their loss. Unfortunately, this could lead to innocent parties being accused of the wrongful death, and sometimes this is a person who is tasked with protecting and saving lives. Police officers in Louisiana are faced with many risks and dangers while they help keep their community safe; however, this requires taking extreme measures to protect themselves and others. This could result in harms and even deaths, which in turn could mean an officer facing a wrongful death action.
Wrongful death by police
If an individual believes that the negligence of a police officer or their willful disregard for the law resulted in the death of a loved one, civil action could be taken against the department the officer works for or the city or jurisdiction the police department is in. Once a wrongful death by police officer is filed, the named responsible party or parties could either work towards defending these allegations or negotiate a settlement that could instantly minimize the bad publicity that often follows the claims.
Because these actions are often filed against the city or jurisdiction the police department is located in, qualified immunity is often extended to the public employees, which includes police officers, in certain situations. However, immunity can only be granted if it is established that there is no willful violation of established law. This means that if a suspect is killed after a police officer used proper techniques that have been approved by the department, he or she may be personally immune from the wrongful death action.
Asserting a defense
Making a split-second decision in a high-risk situation is common for law enforcement, but that is not how officers have to treat claims against them for a wrongful death. When accused of a wrongful death, officers and their department should understand the situation and what actions they can take to make a defense against these claims. While dealing with the loss of a loved one is a delicate matter, the allegations of a wrongful death are not. This is why it is imperative that those blamed for the death of a loved one take action to assert immunity or prove that the officer is in fact not to blame for the death.