Lake Charles
Baton Rouge

Wife of former football player files for wrongful death

It has been just over a year since the death of former Saints lineman, Will Smith, who was shot eight times and killed after rear-ending another car and driving away. The New Orleans Advocate reports that Racquel Smith, his late wife, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Racquel Smith is suing Cardell Hayes, the man who was convicted of manslaughter in the death of Will Smith. Hayes also shot Racquel Smith in the leg during the altercation. The lawsuit states that Hayes is the sole cause of her late-husband’s death, which in addition to her injuries from the shooting, have left the family at a significant loss both financially and psychologically. The lawsuit also names the car insurance companies for Hayes and Smith’s vehicles, which were involved in two crashes before the shooting.

Most wrongful death cases in Louisiana must be filed within a year of the death, and the Smith lawsuit was filed a day before the deadline. According to the Louisiana State Legislature, the law allows for the family of a deceased relative to sue for damages resulting from the death “[i]f a person dies due to the fault of another.” However, the law puts into place a familial hierarchy that determines who has standing in such a case. The spouse and children of the deceased are given primary consideration in such a case, followed by the surviving parents (biological or adoptive) if there is no spouse or children. Siblings have standing if their parents are no longer alive, and finally grandparents of the deceased if there are no other claimants. Parents who abandoned the deceased as a child are not provided any standing in a wrongful death case.


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