There is no greater tragedy in life than when a loved one is taken prematurely. And when we believe another to be responsible for that death, that only compounds the pain we feel. A claim of wrongful death is the recourse for survivors or the estate of a deceased person whose death may be attributable to the actions or negligence of another. If you believe that your loved one may have passed due to another’s actions, the Hollywood wrongful death attorneys at Fischer Redavid PLLC may be able to help you seek compensation to cover funeral costs, medical bills, and more.
Wrongful death can be a confusing concept because there are often criminal charges that apply in the same set of circumstances. But while criminal charges are brought by the government and are intended to serve the interests of the public, a wrongful death claim is a civil suit brought by a decedent’s estate or their survivors, and it serves the financial interests of the claimant. A deceased person’s spouse, children, and parents can bring a wrongful death claim in Florida. So can any blood relative or adoptive sibling who depended, at least partially, on the decedent for support.
You must prove the defendant’s fault for a fatal accident before you and your family can recover damages for the death of a loved one. Proving negligence is the plaintiff’s responsibility in personal injury and wrongful death claims. Proving fault takes showing “clear and convincing” evidence that the defendant owed the decedent a duty of care, breached this duty, and thereby caused the circumstances that killed your loved one. Determining fault is something you (and your lawyer) must do before you can even file a claim. Here are a few steps that may be involved in the process:
A judge or jury will listen to the facts of the case and decide whether the defendant was more likely than not responsible for the death during your wrongful death claim. It is up to you as the plaintiff to properly identify the correct person, company, or agency at fault for the death of your loved one. Determining and proving fault requires enough evidence against the defendant, as well as abiding by all applicable court rules. Our skilled personal injury lawyer can help.
Wrongful death cases are like personal injury cases, except that they result in the death of the victim instead of only injuries. If your loved one would have had the ability to file a personal injury claim had he or she survived the injury, you (or a family member) most likely have the power to file a wrongful death claim. Any act of negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct that results in the death of another person could be grounds for a wrongful death claim in Florida. Many types of wrongful death cases exist, including:
Almost any circumstances could culminate in a wrongful death claim if the elements required for a lawsuit are present: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Consult a Hollywood wrongful death lawyer to discuss your options for a lawsuit, no matter what took your loved one’s life. Finding out whether your family has grounds to file a claim is the first step toward what could be a lifetime of financial stability for surviving family members. It could also be the first step toward obtaining justice and closure.
Don’t wait around if you believe you have the elements of a wrongful death lawsuit. Florida, like all states, has strict statutes of limitations, or deadlines, for filing these types of claims. Statutes of limitations aim to encourage plaintiffs to bring their claims in a timely manner, so defendants have fair odds of defending themselves. Waiting 10 years to bring a claim, for example, could result in the loss of important evidence and the inability of a defendant to argue against a claim.
The wrongful death statute of limitations in Florida is two years from the date of death in most cases. However, the courts may “toll,” or extend, the deadline in limited circumstances. Cases involving asbestos, for instance, may have longer statutes of limitations, because victims don’t often realize their illnesses until decades after initial exposure. Cases involving child claimants or criminal acts (such as driving under the influence) may also have longer deadlines, depending on the situation. Discuss your case with an attorney to determine your exact statute of limitations.
The deadline to file wrongful death lawsuits in Florida is strict. Missing your deadline almost always means giving up your right to compensation. The courts will only make exceptions in very specific circumstances. It’s always better to act quickly and to contact an attorney right away rather than waiting and risking losing your right to file. When you trust us with your claim, we’ll let you know your deadline and start the filing process right away to make sure you meet the time limit.
The type of compensation available is one of the major differences between wrongful death and standard personal injury claims. Since the claimants in a wrongful death claim are surviving family members (or a representative of the estate) and not the victim him/herself, the damages they seek will differ. Section 768.21 of the Florida statutes outlines the potential damages, or types of compensation, beneficiaries may recover via a wrongful death lawsuit. The legal term “damages” refers to money or property paid from one entity to another as compensation for loss or injury. A Hollywood wrongful death suit may seek to recover up to three types of damages.
Economic damages include the survivor’s expenses incurred as a result of the death, as well as lost income. Examples of economic damages include:
Non-economic damages are less tangible damages that nevertheless often have greater monetary value than economic damages. Non-economic damages include:
Punitive damages apply only in extraordinary circumstances and are intended not to compensate the survivor for their loss, but to punish the defendant for egregiously bad behavior. For example, treble damages (three times actual damages) may be recovered from nursing homes responsible for elder abuse and death.
Creditors to whom the deceased person or his/her estate owe money may have a claim on wrongful death compensation awards. If the creditors have followed the rules of Florida probate law concerning claims, they may subtract what the estate owes directly from a compensation award. Work with an attorney to better understand wrongful death damages, creditor claims, medical bill payments, and other compensation-related aspects of your case. A great lawyer at Fischer Redavid PLLC can help your family obtain the best results possible for a wrongful death claim in Florida.
If you have a wrongful death case, you already know that choosing a lawyer is a very important decision. And we know that taking such cases comes with great responsibility. We have extensive experience with cases like these and are prepared to pursue your case.
Call our Hollywood wrongful death attorneys today at (954) 860-8434 to schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation with a member of our team. Or send us a message online.