When someone you love dies, it’s a tragedy. This event is devastating for any family, but it’s compounded far worse if the death had been preventable except for the negligent actions or inactions of another party.
If the death of your loved one happened in Pompano Beach, Florida, then you might be able to recover damages for any financial burdens, as well as pain and suffering, that resulted from the loss of your loved one. A wrongful death lawsuit is how you can go about it, and the firm of Englander Peebles has local wrongful death lawyers you might need.
No amount of money can replace the person that you loved and lost, but it might pay the bills you still have and provide some level of new support as you try to move on. At the very least, you deserve something for your pain and suffering.
Keep reading to learn more about the ins and outs of wrongful death suits in Pompano Beach and how the right attorney can prove invaluable to you.
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How Is Is Wrongful Death Defined In The State Of Florida?
Section 769.19 is where you can find the definition of wrongful death in the Florida Statutes. There, the text says that a person’s death is wrongful if it’s caused by the wrongdoing, default, breach of contract, or negligence of someone else, or even another legal entity. In such cases, the deceased person’s estate has the right to bring a civil lawsuit to the courts of Florida. There, they can seek legal remedies for the death, as well as any losses that occur because of it.
Who Is Qualified To File A Wrongful Death Claim In Florida?
The laws of Florida require that the personal representative designated by the estate of the deceased person to file any wrongful death claim. That personal representative might be named in the estate plan or will of the decedent. If there isn’t any estate plan or will, then the court appoints a personal representative.
Even though wrongful death claims are filed by a personal representative, the claim is still filed on behalf of the estate and surviving relatives of the decedent. In a wrongful death claim, a personal representative has to list each survivor that has any interest in the case.
Florida family members that can potentially recover damages in wrongful death cases in this state include:
- The spouse, kids, and parents of the decedent
- Any adoptive sibling or blood relative that is partially or completely dependent on the deceased for services and support
- Children born to unmarried parents can recover damages for wrongful death if the mother dies, but they can only recover damages for a father’s death if the father had recognized the child formally as his own and had obligation to make contributions for supporting the child.
What Types Of Damages Are Recoverable?
Wrongful death cases are civil claims. That means the estate of the decedent brings the claims rather than the government. Liability in such cases is expressed only in monetary damages. Criminal cases related to the death can still happen but they address different sets of concerns and don’t usually award damages paid to an estate or surviving relatives.
Surviving family relatives can receive damages for the following things:
- Value for services and support the decedent provided previously to surviving relatives
- Loss of guidance, protection, and companionship offered by the decedent
- Pain and suffering, both mental and emotional, if a child was lost
- Medical and/or funeral expenses a surviving relative paid for the decedent
The estate of a decedent might also recover specific kinds of damages. They include but are not limited to the following:
- Lost earnings, benefits, and wages, including the value of any lost earnings the decedent would reasonably have expected to garner with more life
- Lost potential net accumulations of the decedent estates, a value of estate earnings that might have been reasonable to expect had the decedent lived longer
- Medical and/or funeral expenses that the estate paid
Can Surviving Family File For Punitive Damages?
Florida makes it hard to file for punitive damages, given how stringently the proof of negligence has to be shown. A bad decision isn’t enough. There have to be extenuating circumstances.
The Florida statutes say that the attorney of the plaintiff has to prove the concept of ‘gross negligence’ by the defendant. This happens by providing specific and valid evidence of truly reckless disregard for the safety and health of others at the time the injury or fatality occurred.
Punitive damages might also be called ‘exemplary damages’ in the state of Florida. In either case, they are intended to make an example out of defendants to warn others. In addition to being subject to an elevated standard of proof, punitive damages might be subjected to maximum allowances in terms of overall amounts.
How Is Negligence Proved In A Pompano Beach, Florida Wrongful Death Case?
You or your lawyer would need to establish four different pillars at the same time. Given how sophisticated this kind of legal argument can be, it should be obvious why you would need one of the attorneys of Englander Peebles to construct your case along the following four lines:
As the plaintiff, you or your legal team has to demonstrate to the court that the named defendant owed a duty of care to the decedent in the situation where the person you cared for met their demise.
Following the establishment of a duty of care, you and your lawyer need to demonstrate convincingly to the court that the named defendant violated or breached their specific duty of care. This can be either via a particular action or through specific inaction. A common standard to compare the defendant’s actions to would be how another reasonable person might have acted properly in similar circumstances.
Once duty of care and the breach of that duty are duly established, the court must be convinced that the breach by the defendant directly resulted in the decedent’s death.
This one might seem similar to the point of damage, but it’s a subtle yet crucial difference. Not only must the plaintiff’s team demonstrate that the decedent’s death was a consequence of the actions/inactions of the defendant, but they must also show that alternative causes were not the culprit responsible for the fatality.
You should note that these four pillars aren’t just established in preparing for civil litigation but also even in the process of negotiating a settlement before a trial. Showing what a strong case you have can mean an improved bargaining position, and being truly prepared for courtroom action is yet another strong card to play in trying to settle something out of court or before litigation actually starts.
How Do You Start A Wrongful Death Claim In Florida?
The laws of the state of Florida require the personal representative of the decedent’s estate to be the one who files the wrongful death claim. Survivors who might be eligible for compensation must be listed in the claim filed with the courts of Florida. The claim must also name the defendant, the alleged infraction, and the damages sought after as compensation.
Contact a Pompano Beach Wrongful Death Lawyer
Death eventually comes to everyone, but most people hope for long happy lives before dying peacefully in their sleep with no regrets. Unfortunately, death comes too soon for too many. If this happens to someone you love, you might be deprived of many years of memories you could have otherwise had. Even worse, if you or anyone else in your family relied on the deceased for support, be it emotional or financial, then trying to get by after losing them can be harder than ever. Even families with enough money can still suffer financially due to funeral costs and medical bills.
If your loved one was the victim of a wrongful death, then the attorneys of Englander Peebles can be of help to you and your family. They can help you identify defendants who were possibly negligent and then point out particular actions or inactions that resulted in the death of your loved one. While you mourn your loss, these legal professionals can step between you and the lawyers or insurance agents of the defendant, making sure that any settlement offers you receive are fair or fairly negotiated. They can also start building your case, one piece of evidence at a time, using that to either force a fair deal in terms of compensation or getting ready for litigation and court action.
Wrongful death cases usually cost you nothing unless your claim is valid and wins, so it’s worth at least looking into. Call Englander Peebles at (954) 231-1384 or contact them through their website in order to set up a free consultation. Find out what your rights are and how strong your case is before you commit. Your family has been through enough stress as it is, and having someone to handle the legal side of things for a while can make the coming days easier than you believe.