A person is considered a victim of wrongful death if that person loses their life because of the gross negligence or fault of another party. It goes without saying that this is amongst the most distressing and sorrowful incidents that can happen for surviving loved ones. The sudden loss of a loved one is extremely agonizing for the family members that are left behind. A Lakeland wrongful death lawyer at Winters & Yonker is aware of how tough these times can get. We go the extra mile to ensure that you recover from your great loss and get some closure by helping you seek justice for the loved one you’ve lost. Get in touch with our aggressive attorneys today to schedule a Free Case Review.
Table of Contents
What Exactly is a Wrongful Death Claim?
This type of claim is raised against the party whose negligence led to the loss of life of another. The deeds of the accused party do not reflect something that a reasonable and careful person would do if they were in a similar situation. Examples of such incidents include boating accidents, airline accidents, bus accidents, workplace accidents, medical malpractice, exposure to toxic substances, and others. Considering how serious wrongful death cases are, proving them can be an uphill task, and they can also take a long time to resolve.
Under Florida Law, a wrongful death suit should be filed within four years from the date of the incident. There are a few exceptions to the rule in which the timeframe can be extended. But, there is a tight criteria that your case must meet for this to apply. Also, you can be awarded two different types of damages: punitive and compensatory.
It is highly unwise to try and handle wrongful death cases on your own. In the event that your loved one loses their life as a result of the negligence of another party, then consulting a professional attorney at Winters & Yonker is your best course of action.
What are the Legal Elements of a Wrongful Death Case?
The circumstances surrounding a wrongful death incident vary from one case to another. However, all states have some type of wrongful death statute. Even though these laws are alike in various ways, it is essential to understand the unique laws in your state so as to confirm requirements such as filing deadlines. Basically, you will be required by a state wrongful death statute to prove some common elements. The wrongful death statute in Florida is essentially what a family in grief should prove so as to be successful in their wrongful death suit:
- The accident that led to the death of your loved one was caused by another driver;
- The accident was caused by the negligence or wrongful act of the other driver;
- The deceased loved one has left behind a spouse, child, or other persons who were dependent on them;
- There are damages due to the death of the loved one. (In various states, damages can be both monetary and non-monetary.)
Who Has The Legal Right to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Lakeland?
When a family is in grief, they might be too overwhelmed to think about and plan for the future. However, it is crucial to take the necessary measures to safeguard your family’s future and also the deceased’s legal rights. The medical expenses and funeral costs of the deceased that were covered by the executor of the state or a surviving family member mandated to cover the funeral expenses, and late medical bills are usually recoverable. Keep in mind that you don’t have to deal with the giant insurance companies alone. With our wrongful death attorneys at Winters & Yonker, you will be able to better understand your legal options when pursuing compensation and reparation for a wrongful death claim.
What Types of Damages can be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Claim?
In a wrongful death lawsuit, there exist two categories of damages:
- Estate: These includes belongings, property, etc., that is left to the beneficiaries of the deceased through a will
- Survivor: These are damages that are recovered by the loved ones; must be recognized by the state.
- The Loss of Support and Services: This includes contributions in terms of money and property and also familial tasks performed
- The Loss of Companionship and Protection: The resulting effects on the survivors due to the loss of a loved one
- The Loss of Parental Companionship, instruction, and guidance: Only children under the age of 25 years are entitled to recover. However, for children over 25 years, they can recover this damage if there isn’t a surviving spouse.
- Mental Pain and Suffering: This type of loss can only be recovered by 5 types of survivors, namely; minor children, the surviving spouse, in case there is no surviving spouse then the adult children, the parents of a deceased minor child and also the parents of an adult child in case there are no survivors
- Any medical and funeral expenses paid by a surviving family member
- The Deceased’s Lost Income: these are the potential earnings that would have been made from the date of the injury to the date of death
- Lost Net Accumulations: These are all potential future earning from all sources of income including work, investments and more
- The Deceased Person’s Medical and Funeral Expenses: These are recoverable by survivors if the paid from their own finances
How Much Can I Expect From My Lakeland Death Lawsuit?
Determining the value of a wrongful death claim isn’t straightforward as it depends on a number of factors.
We must first determine if there is a valid wrongful death claim which means that the following conditions must be met:
- The accused party is partially or fully at-fault of the accident that led to the loss of life
- The death happened as a direct result of the defendant’s negligence
- You and/or other surviving family members entitled to receive compensation have been negatively affected by the death
- Monetary damages were suffered as a result of the death
Next, we have to establish whether there are any survivors who are eligible to pursue the claim including:
- Blood relatives or adoptive siblings who depended on the deceased in any way for support
Lastly, and possibly the most important step is establishing if the accused party has a means of paying a settlement or judgment. In case the defendant is a big corporation or business with insurance and assets, then there is a high possibility of reaching a settlement or a judgment being awarded and the survivors getting paid on behalf of the deceased. However, in case the accused party is a single individual that doesn’t have insurance or any assets, then pursuing the claim is pointless as there are minimal chances of receiving compensation. Keep in mind that even when there is insurance, the coverage of the policy is limited.
The complex nature of wrongful death cases requires an experienced attorney with extensive knowledge of the laws involving wrongful death and the legal options available for damage recovery.
How Long Does It Take to Complete a Wrongful Death Case in Florida?
Wrongful death cases can take years to complete. In addition, the process can get very emotional. Here is an overview of the steps involved in a wrongful death case:
- The deceased’s person’s estate executor is appointed
- Gathering of all information relating to the survivors and cause of death
- Filing a claim for damages
- Requesting a monetary settlement from the accused part
- If the claim doesn’t settle, then the drafting of a formal legal claim or complaint begins after which it is served to the defendant and the county clerk thus commencing a lawsuit.
- Discovery happens (This is where both sides request for various documents, admissions, and statements, from the opposing party)
Witnesses are summoned and while under oath, they are asked questions regarding:
- the specifics of the case including the cause of death
- the circumstances surrounding the cause of death
- the extent of damages that may be owed to the survivors and the estate
- Prior to setting a trial date, a mediation conference will be held by the parties involved to determine whether the issue can be resolved without going to trial.
- If the parties fail to agree on the matter, then a trial date will be set and it will be up to the jury to determine whether the defendant is at fault.
- If the final verdict is in favor of the deceased’s estate, then damages will be awarded to the estate and survivors of the deceased
- In case the final verdict is in favor of the accused party, then the case will be thrown away and no compensation will be paid.
- Any party that is dissatisfied with the outcome has the right to appeal the outcome of the case.
Considering how long it takes to resolve the process, acquiring the expertise of an attorney is important to make sure the case proceeds and no crucial information is left out.
attorney to you!
Contact our Aggressive Attorneys at Winters & Yonker
The Types Of Wrongful Death Claims Our Teams Handle
All kinds of accidents and acts of negligence can result in a wrongful death claim. The following are some of the causes of wrongful deaths:
Car Accident Wrongful Death
An auto accident wrongful death can happen when a driver is operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is also caused by over-speeding and reckless driving.
Distracted driving is still a leading cause of auto accident wrongful deaths. In most cases, distracted driving accidents happen when drivers text while on the roads. Driver fatigue, aging, and inexperience are other major causes of auto accidents.
In some cases, the fault may not lie with any of the drivers. For example, if the road where the accident occurred are in poor state posing a hazard or if the vehicle has manufacturing defects. Since there are numerous factors that can cause an auto accident leading to wrongful deaths, it is crucial to first conduct an investigation to establish the circumstances surrounding an accident as early as possible.
Truck Accident Wrongful Death
It goes without saying that the damages caused by accidents involving large trucks can be very devastating. Just like car accidents, truck accidents have similar causes. Fatigue is a leading cause of trucking accidents. This is mainly because truck drivers often drive for long distances without taking enough rest in between. Even though the federal government strictly regulates the number of hours truck drivers can be on the roads without breaks, trucking companies often overwork their drivers and put them under immense pressure to make additional deliveries within the shortest time possible which results in fatigue. When you are fatigued, your concentration is usually at a minimum and you can end up falling asleep on the wheel.
DUI driving is an issue that affects all types of drivers even truck drivers. Alcohol and drugs, whether illegal or prescribed, greatly impair the driving ability of drivers. Fast and timely delivery of goods ensures that the trucker is able to retain their job. Considering this pressure they are on, the truckers may end up driving recklessly as their jobs are usually on the line. Boredom caused by driving for long hours may cause truck drivers to seek ways to entertain themselves such as texting and making phones which leads to distraction.
In addition, there are trucking companies that don’t dutifully maintain their vehicles. Some trucking companies fail to properly train their drivers. Our team of wrongful death attorneys will investigate the role of the trucking company and the driver in the accident. It is also important to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation into the weather conditions, manufacturer defects and state of the road.
Nursing Home Abuse Death
The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 stipulates that nursing homes should provide the highest possible levels of care to their residents. This includes whatever is required to ensure that their physical, mental and psychosocial well-being is maintained. If a loved one dies due to the negligence or abuse in a nursing home, then a wrongful death claim can be raised. Negligence can be established in cases of fatal medication errors, falls and resulting injuries, choking, malnutrition, lack of oxygen, infections and sepsis, etc. If residents aren’t properly taken care of, they may stray and harm themselves. If a wrongful death occurs due to abuse or negligence, then compensation arrangements are in order.
Boating Accident Wrongful Death
Operating a boat requires exercising certain standards of care. If a person driving a boat causes an accident/wrongful death, then similar laws to those of cars on the road will apply. Particularly, the Harbors and Navigation Code (HNC) states that no individual should operate any vessels, control water skis, an aquaplane, or any related device in a manner that is negligent or reckless which can result in the endangerment of limb, life, or property of others.
Motorcycle Accident Wrongful Death
Motorcycle riders are amongst the most vulnerable road users. Being hit by an automobile is the leading cause of motorcycle rider deaths. The causes of such accidents are just the same ones listed for automobile and truck accident wrongful deaths. One of the most deadly types of motorcycle accidents is head-on collisions. An accident can also occur when an automobile driver is drunk, distracted or reckless makes a left-hand turn. When you hire the services of Lakeland Wrongful death lawyers at Winters & Yonker, we will look into the behavior of the opposing driver and all aspects of the accident. This is in addition to the vehicle manufacturer, conditions of the road, and everything else relating to your claim.
Work Accident Wrongful Death
Wrongful deaths can happen anywhere, even at the workplace. Due to the nature of the job, manufacturing plants and construction sites see the most deadly accidents. Explosions, faulty machinery, falls, and exposure to toxic chemicals are some of the main causes of workplace wrongful deaths. These deaths can happen suddenly due to one accident or happen gradually due to constant exposure to harmful substances.
Can I File a Lawsuit Against a Healthcare Provider for Wrongful Death?
No healthcare provider is exempt from lawsuits arising from wrongful deaths caused by medical negligence. All of the following can be sued:
- Walk-in medical centers and clinics
- Licensed vocational nurses
- Registered nurses
What may constitute medical malpractice?
- An unprecedented or completely different outcome from a surgery or treatment
- If there is no sensible explanation offered for the deteriorated condition or death of a patient
- A serious injury or death that happens due to routine operations and treatments
- Death caused by a procedure
According to Florida law, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice lasts for two years after the date of the incident. However, there can be an extension in the event the facility intentionally withheld an irresponsible action from the claimant.
You are required by the law to serve a notice of intent to file a lawsuit before heading to court. The process begins with a medical affidavit called Certificate of Merit. This contains the opinion of another medical professional who has gone over the case and makes a statement that the negligent actions of the accused party caused the death of the deceased. This statement should contain:
- A description of all the relevant medical standards of care that the accused party should have followed
- Identification of the medical records examined
- The opinion that the accused party didn’t follow the relevant standard of care i.e., negligence
- The opinion that due to the negligence of the accused party, the plaintiff was injured; this isn’t always necessary
- The physician’s reasoning
This notice triggers a settlement process that takes 90 days. The verification of adherence to the stipulated statute of limitations is evaluated within this period. The institution is expected to decide whether they are willing to settle within the 90-day timeframe. If they are not willing to settle, then you have 60 days to file the lawsuit or any time before the expiration of the statute of limitations. There are cases where an extension is granted in order to carry out more investigation. Considering the intricacies of these laws, it is important to have expert legal representation.
Reach out to out Lakeland Wrongful Death Lawyers to schedule a Free Consultation.
In case your loved one was a victim of wrongful death, the incident might fall into one of the categories discussed above, or the circumstances surrounding the incident might be completely different. Speedy investigations are very important when raising a claim for wrongful death.
Hence, we urge you to get in touch with our Lakeland injury firm for a free consultation to discuss the unique aspects of your case.
Call us at (863) 683-4800 to schedule a free appointment with Winters & Yonker.