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Who May File a Claim for Wrongful Death?

In the State of Florida, when someone’s negligence causes another person’s accidental, sudden death, the victim’s family usually has a right to recover damages by filing a lawsuit for wrongful death with the advice and guidance of a Winter Haven wrongful death attorney.

Hazards are everywhere in the modern world. Every year, scores of defective consumer items are recalled. The number three cause of deaths in this nation is medical malpractice. Approximately twenty to forty people die in the United States every year as the result of dog bite injuries.

Most wrongful death victims, however, are among the 10,000-plus who lose their lives in the U.S. each year in drunk driving-related crashes.

Why Should You File a Claim for Wrongful Death?

While a claim for wrongful death can’t bring back a loved one, a successful wrongful death claim can help family members cover their unexpected expenses and avoid sudden, unanticipated financial hardship.

Who may pursue a claim for wrongful death in the State of Florida? What compensation can be recovered with a wrongful death claim? What is the deadline for filing a claim for wrongful death in Florida? If you keep reading, you will learn the facts every Florida family should know.

What Should Families in Florida Know About Wrongful Death?

Florida law provides that when someone’s death has been caused by a “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract,” the decedent’s estate may seek compensation for damages arising from the death by filing a wrongful death claim.

While some states permit an immediate family member or a dependent to bring a lawsuit for wrongful death, the law in Florida requires a wrongful death claim to be initiated by the executor of the will or the personal representative of a decedent’s estate.

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If no one has been named as the executor of the will or as the representative of the decedent’s estate, a Florida court may name a personal representative. Either way, an executor or representative will usually be a decedent’s surviving spouse, adult child, or parent.

Who Is Entitled to Compensation After Someone’s Wrongful Death?

The representative of a decedent’s estate must make certain that all eligible family members affected by a wrongful death are named in a wrongful death claim. In this state, a wrongful death victim’s relatives who may qualify to recover damages are:

  1.  the spouse, children, and parents
  2.  adopted siblings and blood relatives “partly or wholly dependent on the decedent”

If a child’s parents never married, the child may recover damages after the mother’s wrongful death but may only recover damages after a father’s wrongful death if that father acknowledged his paternity of the child and contributed to or should have contributed to his child’s financial support.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims?

Each state has established a deadline – a statute of limitations – for taking legal action after a wrongful death. In most Florida cases, the deadline for wrongful death actions is two years after the date of the wrongful death, with very few exceptions.

If you’ve missed the deadline, go ahead and schedule a consultation with a wrongful death attorney. It’s possible that the circumstances of your loved one’s wrongful death may qualify you for one of the rare exceptions to the statute of limitations.

If you pursue a wrongful death claim, a Winter Haven wrongful death lawyer can investigate the death, identify the party or parties that have liability, and advocate aggressively for your family until an out-of-court agreement is achieved or a jury returns its verdict.

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Almost all wrongful death claims in this state are settled out-of-court after the attorneys for each side conduct private negotiations. A Winter Haven wrongful death attorney can negotiate for your family’s compensation and for the justice your family deserves.

What Can Wrongful Death Survivors Recover?

If a reasonable and fair compensation amount is not offered in the out-of-court negotiations, a Winter Haven wrongful death lawyer will take your family’s wrongful death lawsuit to court and ask jurors to order payment of the full compensation your family deserves and needs.

The law in Florida provides that surviving immediate family members and dependents are entitled to monetary compensation to cover:

  1.  the loss of the decedent’s support and services
  2.  the loss of the decedent’s companionship and guidance
  3.  emotional anguish, suffering, and pain
  4.  final medical costs, funeral expenses, and burial or cremation costs
  5.  loss of the prospective net accumulation of the estate

How Will An Attorney Prove That Your Loved One Died Wrongfully?

In Florida, wrongful death lawsuits are comparable to personal injury lawsuits. The plaintiff and the plaintiff’s lawyer must prove these parts of their claim:

  1.  The presumably negligent party (the defendant) had a duty of care to the decedent.
  2.  The defendant breached his or her duty by acting negligently.
  3.  The breach of duty (the defendant’s negligence) directly caused the wrongful death.
  4.  The losses are quantifiable, and survivors should recover compensation for that amount.

Additionally, a decedent’s estate in some cases may recover compensation for projected lost future wages based on the loss of the decedent’s earning capacity – the income the decedent could reasonably have been expected to earn prior to retirement.

How Is a “Duty of Care” Defined?

Legally speaking, the duty of care is the overall legal “duty” everyone has to behave responsibly and in a way that does not harm others. Different levels of care are legally required in different circumstances. When driving, for example, it’s your legal duty to operate your vehicle safely.

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In a Florida wrongful death trial, a plaintiff and his or her attorney must prove that the defendant’s negligence was the reason why the decedent suffered a wrongful death.

In some Florida wrongful death trials, in addition to compensation, the court may require the negligent party to pay punitive damages to a plaintiff. Punitive damages penalize defendants to deter repeated negligence in the future.

What Will It Cost Your Family to Win Justice?

If a member of your family is the victim of a wrongful death, your first consultation with a Florida wrongful death attorney is offered with no obligation or cost. You’ll receive personalized, sound legal advice about your family’s rights and options.

If you and your attorney agree to proceed with a wrongful death claim, you pay no lawyer’s fee unless and until your wrongful death attorney recovers your family’s compensation with a courtroom verdict or a privately negotiated settlement.

When you’ve lost someone who is close and beloved, it’s difficult to focus on other matters, but you must consider your family members and their long-term best interests. A Florida wrongful death lawyer will handle the case, letting you focus on what’s important – the people you love.

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