According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were an estimated 37,461 car accident fatalities nationwide in 2016, and in Florida specifically, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) estimates 2,935 fatal crashes occurred in our state during the same time period. In 2012, Center for Disease Control estimated that Floridians died in car accidents at a rate of about 6 deaths per 100,000 members of the population, and there were an estimated 228 car accident fatalities in Hillsborough county in 2016. In fact, Hillsborough county had more car accident fatalities in 2016 than Pasco, Hernando, and Sumter county combined.
Some of these accident are unavoidable, and are caused by circumstances that are simply beyond our control. In contrast, many car crashes could have been avoided, and are generally caused by the negligent actions of another driver. When one of these accidents leads to the death of a loved one, the law affords their family members the ability to seek compensation for the loss of their loved one’s life by filing a wrongful death claim.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims in Tampa, FL
A wrongful death claim can arise out of many different scenarios that encompass different areas of personal injury law such as car accidents, defective products, or medical malpractice. One of the most common types of wrongful death claims are those that arise due to a loved one being involved in a fatal car accident. According to the NHTSA, there are certain factors either surrounding the negligent driver or the accident itself that tend to result in a fatality some of which are listed below:
- Distracted Driving: 3,450 fatalities nationwide
- Drowsy Driving: 803 fatalities nationwide
- Drunk Driving: 10,497 fatalities nationwide
- Motorcycle Accidents: 5,286 fatalities nationwide
- Pedestrian Accidents: 5,987 fatalities nationwide
One of key factors used in determining whether or not a wrongful death claim is warranted is whether or not the car accident fatality occurred due to the negligence of another driver. As such, even car accidents that tend to be more deadly by nature, such as a motorcycle or pedestrian accidents, can result in a wrongful death claim, because negligence can be both intentional and unintentional.
Wrongful Death Claims Involving Medical Malpractice in Tampa, FL
Tampa Bay residents place their lives in the hands of a doctor every day, because we are taught from the time we are children that a doctor is a person that we can trust. In most instances, this life-long belief is true, but there are exceptions to this principle that are occuring at an alarming rate. A study by John Hopkins University, the third best medical school in the United States, found that an estimated 250,000 patients die per year due to medical errors. This means that medical malpractice, in all forms, is the third leading cause of death in America. So, you might be wondering why wrongful death claims arising from car accidents tend to be more common than those arising out an act of medical malpractice.
Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Claims
This occurs for a few reasons one of which is many medical errors go unnoticed by the deceased’s family members. Additionally, the legal standard for a medical malpractice claim in Florida and most of the United States is a high standard to meet for a few reasons the most important of which is proving that the physician or medical staff broke their “standard of care.” Under Fla.Stat.§766.102(1), the plaintiff is required to demonstrate the the negligent actions of the healthcare professional represented a breach of the prevailing professional standard of care for that type health care provider. Meeting this standard is not only difficult but also, expensive, because it is normally accomplished through the testimony of medical experts.
Compensation for Damages in Wrongful Death Claims
The manner in which compensation is awarded in wrongful death claims is unique in certain respects. A jury must first consider what is called “economic” damages which are things such as the future wages that the deceased could have earned over their lifetime, hospital bills, and funeral costs. The other category of damages that can be awarded are “non-economic” damages which are things such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, etc.
Non-economic Damages in Wrongful Death Claims
Non-economic damages are unique in wrongful death cases, because the jury is supposed to quantify these damages by considering the effect the loss of life has had on the deceased’s family, which is no small task. Due to this, non-economic damages tend to be amplified in wrongful death cases due to the amount of pain a family has to endure as a result of the loss of a loved one.
Finding a Wrongful Death Attorney in Tampa, FL
Wrongful death cases are complex legal matters that should be approached with the assistance of a wrongful death attorney. 1-800-INJURED is a medical and lawyer referral service that connects family members with a network of wrongful death attorneys in the Tampa Bay area. You don’t have to go through this difficult time alone. Call 1-800-INJURED today to be connected with a wrongful death attorney near you.