Losing a loved one — and the financial support or contributions they make to your family – can be devastating, especially when it is unexpected, and even more so when they are killed due to someone else’s recklessness, negligence, or criminal behavior. If someone else is responsible for the death of your loved one, then you may be able to seek compensation to help alleviate the financial burden of this loss through a wrongful death lawsuit. In fact, whether or not the responsible party has committed a crime is irrelevant to determining whether or not you are able to move forward with your civil lawsuit. There is a different (less strict) burden of proof necessary in a civil case, and different remedies for the surviving loved ones in a civil case versus a criminal case. The Florida Wrongful Death Act provides a clear legal pathway for the “Spouse, children, and parents of the deceased; and Blood relatives or adoptive siblings who are “partly or wholly” dependent on the decedent” to file a claim through the victim’s estate.
There are many ways someone can be killed in a wrongful death situation, and no two wrongful deaths are alike no matter how similar they may first appear. This is why it is essential that you consult and partner with an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to get a clear understanding of your own situation and how you can best move forward with your case. It can be difficult to think about taking on the complexity of a civil lawsuit while you are trying to focus on healing and moving forward from such a terrible situation, which is why 1-800-Injured is one of the easiest options for you to find a lawyer who is right for you.
Contact 1-800-Injured Today To Connect With a Wrongful Death Attorney
1-800-Injured is an attorney and medical referral service. Contact us now for a free consultation about your wrongful death case, and get connected with a lawyer as soon as possible. Instead of having to take on the arduous and stressful process of emailing and calling law firms in your area to find an available wrongful death attorney, we can connect you with a lawyer who is ready to take your case today.
We understand that you have a lot to deal with in this difficult time, and we are happy to help alleviate some of your stressors. Once you’ve partnered with an attorney, they will be able to assume the burden of your Tampa wrongful death case and give you the space necessary to deal with your personal affairs.
Calculating Wrongful Death Damages
One of the central issues that will need to be resolved in your wrongful death lawsuit are damages, and how much you are entitled to following your loss. Wrongful death cases are handled similarly to other tort cases, but there are damages the claimants are able to seek that are not typically available to a victim in a personal injury case. These damages can be complicated, as they attempt to quantify future damages such as loss of financial contributions over a period of time, especially minor children and dependents who have lost a significant source of financial support in their youth.
Economic Damages For Wrongful Death
Economic damages account for all damages and impacts to the plaintiff(s) and they come with measurable dollar values associated with them. For a wrongful death suit, they would include things like:
- Medical costs associated with the wrongful death
- Funeral and after-life care expenses
- Loss of benefits such as medical insurance, retirement contributions, 401K or IRAs, and other benefit packages
- Loss of future inheritance
- Loss of goods and services the deceased would have provided in the future
The specifics of these damages are unique to your situation and vary depending on the age and relationship of each plaintiff seeking compensation in this claim. You and your attorney will work closely to develop a clear understanding of what to seek for fair payment. Calculating economic damages consists of providing tangible proof of the dollar values, as well as tangible proof of the connection between the wrongful death and the financial costs or losses.
Non-Economic Damages For Wrongful Death
Non-economic damages seek compensation for the “intangible” damages of any tort, including wrongful death. For wrongful death, the damages are slightly different than if the victim of the accident were seeking compensation for themselves:
- Mental pain and anguish that the survivors must suffer
- The loss of love and companionship provided by the deceased
- Loss of consortium for the surviving spouse
- Loss of guidance, protection, and familial stability provided by the deceased, among other support-based roles
Calculating non-economic damages is a lot more complicated than simply furnishing receipts since there is no measurable dollar value associated with things like loss of consortium or the pain of a loss. Your attorney will work with you to identify these damages, quantify their severity, and then work to apply a dollar amount to them.
Causes of Wrongful Death in Tampa
There is any number of ways wrongful death can happen, but the following are some of the most common causes of these claims in Tampa:
- Car accidents, including drunk driving, speeding, reckless endangerment, and aggressive driving
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents caused by drivers
- Medical malpractice
- Motorcycle accidents
- Product liability and defective products
- Animal attacks
Whether or not you see a cause listed above that led to the death of your loved one, the important thing to recognize is that wrongful death is treated like any other tort in many ways. For a death to be considered a tort, you will need to prove that the responsible party owed the deceased a duty of care which they failed to uphold, and this failure led to the death of your loved one.
The following are just a few of the many questions attorneys are commonly asked during initial consultations about wrongful death claims. Keep in mind that your answers will vary depending on the specifics of your situation, and you should not take any of the following answers as legal advice. They are simply meant to give you a general sense of how your question may be answered.
Who can seek compensation for wrongful death?
Under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, a lawsuit must be filed through the victim’s estate. The lawsuit can be filed on behalf of:
- Blood relatives
- Adoptive children
- Others who are dependent on the deceased
If you are uncertain of your legal rights to be included in a wrongful death claim, contact an attorney as soon as possible to get a clear understanding of your options.
How much is my wrongful death case worth?
In order to calculate the amount you may rightfully seek in a wrongful death lawsuit, you and your attorney will need to work closely to go through each detail, both financial and emotional. There is no easy way to provide a simple calculation to determine what you are owed. For a general idea, however, you can calculate your economic damages, and recognize that you will likely be able to seek non-economic damages over and above your economic damages.
If the criminal charges are overturned, can I still seek civil damages?
The burden of proof necessary in criminal charges must be established beyond a reasonable doubt, meaning that the jury must have no reasonable doubts about their verdict. This is why many seemingly-clear criminal cases are dropped or dismissed, and why a hung jury can happen. However, civil cases have lower burdens of proof, which means you may well win a civil case even if criminal charges are dismissed — or are never filed in the first place.