The unnecessary and unexpected death of a loved one is one of the most traumatic and tragic events most individuals will ever experience. Wrongful deaths typically occur through a person’s, manufacturer’s, or company’s complete inaction during a crisis, negligence, or wrongful actions. The resulting fatality is what’s known as wrongful death and is something that can leave families struggling both financially and emotionally.
If a parent dies due to the inaction, negligence, or wrongful action of another, his or her children will be left robbed of their financial support, guidance, and parental care; while the individual’s surviving spouse will have lost the comfort and love of their wife or husband. And while no amount of money can compensate for the loss of life, receiving economic damages through civil action could help ease the financial distress suffered by the deceased’s loved ones. That is where our Miramar wrongful death lawyers can help.
If you live in Florida and recently lost a loved one due to the negligence or wrongful action of another, State Laws allow you to file a claim and seek compensation for your loss. However, to successfully file a lawsuit against the responsible party, consider retaining the services of a professional wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Contact Englander Peebles now and speak to our professional injury attorneys for legal counsel and representation. Let us help you seek justice for the untimely loss of your loved one.
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How is Wrong Death Defined in Florida?
Florida Statutes, under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, Section 768.19, dictate that anyone can file a claim/lawsuit against the responsible party when death is caused by any “breach of warranty or contract, default, negligence, or wrongful act.” According to this definition, other factors that constitute wrongful death include intentional acts (such as hitting a person over the head with the intent to harm them), negligent acts (such as hitting someone on the head accidentally), and breach of warranty/contract (such as product defects.)
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
According to Florida Law, the only people that can file a wrongful death claim are those listed by the deceased person as their representative. The representative could be anyone named in the decedent’s estate plan or will. However, in cases where the deceased left no estate plan or will, the court appoints one for the family.
And while wrongful death claims are filed by the deceased’s representative, they are also filed on behalf of the decedent’s estate and any of his or her surviving loved ones. In wrongful death claims, the person listed as the personal representative should make sure they list all the survivors with interests in the claim.
Family members that may recover damages in a wrongful death case in Florida include:
- The deceased’s children, spouse, and parents.
- Any adoptive sibling or blood relative who’s “wholly or partly dependent on the deceased for services or support.”
- Children born to two unmarried people may recover damages if their mother dies. However, if the father dies, they can only recover damages if the dad had recognized them as their child formally and was indebted to their support.
What Damages are Recoverable Through Wrongful Death Claims?
Wrongful death claims are civil, which means that they are brought before a court by the decedent’s estate and not the government. Liability in these cases is solely expressed in terms of monetary damages. While criminal cases related to the person’s demise may also be filed, these claims typically address a variety of concerns and typically don’t result in damages being paid to the deceased’s surviving family members or estate.
Section 768.21 of Florida State Laws dictates the statutes for awarding damages in wrongful death claims. Damages the deceased’s surviving family members or estate may receive through a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Loss of guidance, protection, and companionship provided by the deceased person
- The value of services and support the deceased had provided to the family
- Funeral and/or medical expenses the bereaved paid for the deceased person.
- Emotional and mental pain and suffering experienced due to the loss of a loved one
Other damages the deceased’s estate may recover include:
- Lost “prospective net accumulations” of the deceased’s estate or the value (in earnings) the person’s estate could reasonably have collected if the person had lived.
- Lost benefits, wages, and other earnings, and that includes the value of lost earnings that the decedent could have been expected, within reasonable boundaries, to make if they had lived.
- Funeral and medical expenses paid for by the estate.
Can the Decedent’s Surviving Family Members File for Punitive Damages?
A Florida court could decide to grant punitive damages to the surviving family if it’s shown that the negligent person’s actions were reckless, intentional, or grossly negligent. Punitive damages serve two purposes:
- To punish the responsible party,
- To discourage others from doing the same thing in the future.
Punitive damages, when and if awarded, are awarded together with compensatory damages.
How is Negligence Proved in Wrongful Death Cases?
In wrongful death lawsuits, one must prove that the death of a loved one was caused either in whole or in part by the negligent, reckless, or careless actions of the responsible party. The key elements that need to be proven in a wrongful death case include:
The accuser must prove to the court that the responsible party owed the deceased a duty of care.
The accuser must then show how the responsible party breached/violated their duty through either inaction or a specific action that another person, in the same situation, would have acted differently and in a reasonable manner.
The accuser must prove that their loved one’s death resulted from the responsible party’s actions and not any other cause.
The accuser must prove that it’s the responsible party’s breach of duty that led to the death of their loved one and that it generated quantifiable damages such as burial costs, medical expenses, hospitalizations, loss of potential earnings, loss of income, loss of protection, costs of a funeral, inheritance, guidance, and the pain and suffering the deceased experienced before their death
How Do You Start a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
Thinking of filing a wrongful death claim for the untimely loss of a loved one? Then here is what you need to know about starting a wrongful death claim. The first thing you need to do is get in touch with a professional and skilled wrongful death attorney and have them review your case. Make sure you provide as much information and details about your case as possible as that’ll help them in building your case.
Once you’ve hired their services, your attorney or the attorney assigned will start carrying out investigations into your loved one’s death to try and establish merit for your case. Once the attorney has gathered enough evidence, he or she can then start the process of notifying the respondent of allegations filed against them and filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
What follows is something known as the discovery process – this is where both parties (you and the defendant) request information from each side to help prepare for the case. Once the discovery period is over, the trial is then set to being. It’s worth noting that the length of each trial varies depending on the availability of a judge and jury and the complexity of the case in question.
What’s the Difference Between Wrongful Death Claims and Estate Claims?
Wrongful death claims and estate claims generally arise out of one event – the wrongful demise of a person. The main differences between the two are the damages included and who brings the claim. When an individual loses their life due to the reckless behavior, negligent, or criminal actions of another, some of his or her surviving family members are authorized to file a wrongful death claim against the person responsible for their demise.
In estate claims, the deceased’s estate attempts to recover expenses, like burial and funeral costs, and can also be used to pursue pain and suffering the deceased experienced during the short period they lived after the accident (before their demise) and medical expenses.
Let Our Miramar Wrongful Death Lawyers Help You Seek Justice for Your Loved One
Losing someone dear to you isn’t easy, and what’s even harder is seeking compensation for their untimely and wrongful death. This is one process that can be both financially and emotionally draining. And while no amount of money is enough to compensate for life, monetary compensation for your loss can help give your family some financial stability and relief.
If you have lost someone due to the negligent or reckless actions of another person, you reserve the right to seek compensation for your loss and damages. For increased chances of filing a successful wrongful death claim, consider engaging the services of a professional and knowledgeable wrongful death attorney.
At Englander Peebles, we understand the pain and suffering you’re going through and are here to help you ensure that you get adequately compensated for your loss. For professional legal counsel and representation, call (954) 231-1384 to set up a free-of-charge, no-obligation consultation with one of our capable wrongful death claims attorneys.
Please note that we work on a contingency basis – that means we don’t get paid until we’ve won compensation for our clients.