If you have lost a loved one in an accident that was caused by someone else’s reckless or negligent behavior, then you may be entitled to compensation that will help you to mitigate the financial impacts of this terrible experience. Of course, no amount of money will be able to undo this tragic loss, but you and your family do not deserve to suffer financially because of the acts of another. Hire an attorney today so that you can stay focused on your family and your personal needs while a legal professional fights for what you rightfully deserve.
Florida’s Wrongful Death Act allows specific beneficiaries to file a lawsuit, and this beneficiary can work with an attorney throughout the process. 1-800-Injured is an attorney and medical referral service. By using our referral service, you can save valuable time that would otherwise be spent searching for an available attorney who is willing to take your case, so that you can focus on your own needs and the needs of your family instead.
What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit stating that the death of a human being was avoidable, and caused by the negligence of the defendant in the case. In order for a death to be covered under the civil statutes of wrongful death, the following must be true:
- A human was killed
- The death was the result of the negligent, malicious, or reckless behavior of another
- The surviving family members or beneficiaries have suffered from measurable financial losses as a result of the death
- There is an appointed personal representative who has the legal authority to file the lawsuit
Proving Legal Responsibility in a Wrongful Death Claim
The following details will be present throughout the case and will need to be proven in order to determine that the defendant is, in fact, legally responsible for the financial damages caused by the wrongful death.
Duty of Care
As with all tort cases, the first question is that of the “duty of care.” Whether the defendant is a doctor, a driver, or anyone else, each time we engage in behaviors that can impact the wellbeing of others, we work to uphold a duty of care to others that requires acting prudently to avoid accidents, and therefore avoid causing harm to others.
Failure to Uphold the Duty of Care
Driving drunk, making a reckless medical decision, or selling a defective product are all failures of the duty of care expected of individuals in their respective situations, and these failures can lead to dangerous situations and possible injuries, and even death. Once the duty of care has been established, your attorney will set out to prove that the defendant had failed theirs.
Death Caused by Failed Duty of Care
This failure must cause death in order to warrant a wrongful death claim. If there is an accident caused by someone’s failure to uphold their duty of care but there is no death, there may still be an opportunity for a personal injury claim if there are measurable injuries caused by the accident.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The personal representative of the deceased’s estate can initiate a wrongful death claim on behalf of the surviving family members or beneficiaries. In the event that there is no will designating a representative, a judge will appoint one.
Family members who can recover compensation for their losses in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- The deceased’s spouse
- Dependent relatives
There are others who may be able to claim entitlement to compensation as well but will depend on the specifics of the situation. If you are unsure whether or not you are able to seek compensation for wrongful death, contact us now to connect with an attorney to learn about what options you have moving forward.
The estate’s representative has two years of the date of death to file the claim before the statute of limitations expires, which may result in your family waiving its right to legal remedy and monetary compensation. The most important step that you can take now is to hire an attorney to help you through this process so that you can focus on your family needs without being overwhelmed by complicated legal processes.
Why File a Wrongful Death Claim?
As the surviving family members and beneficiaries of a wrongful death accident, it is clear that no amount of money will ever undo the horrible accident that caused the death, and will not bring anyone back who has been killed. However, there are significant financial impacts to these types of losses, and the survivors should not be responsible for the costs and losses that someone else caused by their reckless or negligent behavior.
By filing a wrongful death claim and getting compensation for this tragedy, the survivors can focus on their personal needs without needing to take on the additional burden of increased financial stress and worry.
Types of Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim
As with all civil cases, the plaintiff(s) in a wrongful death claim will seek compensatory awards in the form of both economic and non-economic damages. Each damage seeks specific compensation for specific parts of the case, and while they vary significantly, both are equally important.
Economic damages are the foundation of a personal injury or wrongful death claim, and they set out the measurable financial losses and impacts that the plaintiff has suffered. They include things like medical bills and treatment costs for the deceased, as well as losses of financial support in the form of income, 401K, pension, and other financial benefits that the deceased provided for the family. There are many other economic damages that you and your attorney will be able to consider and include, but these are some of the most prominent.
Non-economic damages are more complicated to understand because they apply to things that do not have measurable dollar values associated with them. They include things like the emotional distress that the surviving dependents must endure, the pain and suffering that the deceased experienced, and much more. As you can imagine, calculating these types of damages can be complicated, and requires the support of an experienced wrongful death attorney to truly reach a fair and defensible amount.
Benefits of Hiring an Attorney
Hiring an attorney can be one of the most beneficial decisions that you make in the early days following a loss from a wrongful death. Trying to focus on legal processes while also trying to process the grief and trauma that comes with a loss—especially one as unexpected and avoidable as a wrongful death—your attorney will be taking all of the appropriate steps to build a strong legal argument for your compensation so that the surviving dependents can get the financial support that they are accustomed to and that they deserve.
Unnecessary or avoidable stress after a wrongful death can complicate the process of emotional recovery, so by working with an attorney you are giving yourself and your loved ones the emotional space necessary to come to terms with this horrible experience.