A victim of wrongful death is a person who has lost their life as a result of gross negligence or the fault of another party. Wrongful death usually has a lot of impact on the surviving loved one because of the distress and sorrow they have to go through. Losing a loved one is very agonizing for the family members who are left behind by the deceased. A New Port Richey wrongful death lawyer can help you through the legal process. At Winters & Yonker, we have experience recovering compensation for those affected by wrongful death cases. We usually do everything possible to make sure you get the necessary compensation as a result of your loss or getting closure by getting justice for the deceased. You can get a Free Case Review by contacting our New Port Richey injury lawyers.
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What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
This a claim that is against the party that led to the loss of life of a loved one because of the party’s negligence. What the responsible party did was not something that a careful and reasonable person would do if they were in the same situation. Some examples include airline accidents, boating accidents, workplace accidents, bus accidents, exposure to toxic substances, medical malpractice, and others. It can be very hard to prove wrongful death cases because they are very serious, and these cases tend to take a long time.
You need to file a wrongful death within four years from the day of the incident, under Florida Law. Some exceptions can allow this timeframe to be increased. There is a certain criterion that has to be satisfied before it applies. There are two types of damages you can be awarded; compensatory and punitive.
Handling a wrongful death case on your own is never a good idea. If you have lost a loved one as a result of negligence by another party, then the best course of action is talking to a professional at New Port Richey Wrongful Death Attorney so they can help you get the compensation you deserve.
The Legal Elements of a Wrongful Death Case
The wrongful death cases tend to be different because the circumstances surrounding them are different. Some states have wrongful death statutes. These laws can be similar in some ways, but it is important to know the specific law that is followed in your state so you can know things like deadlines on filing a case. There are some common elements that you have to prove, and this is required by the state’s wrongful death statute. In Florida, a family in grief needs to prove the following so they can succeed in a wrongful death case;
- The accident that resulted in the death of a loved one was caused by another driver
- The accident happened because of the other driver through wrongful act or negligence
- The deceased had a spouse, child, or a person that depended on them
- There are damages as a result of the death of the loved one (this can be both monetary and non-monetary in various states)
Who Can Legally File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
When in grief, many family members will have a hard time thinking and planning for the future. However, after such a thing happens, it is important to make sure the future of the family and the legal rights of the deceased have been safeguarded. Some of the things that can be recovered include funeral costs and medical expenses of the deceased that had to be covered by the executor of the state or a family member.
Remember you don’t have to be alone when it comes to dealing with insurance companies. When you work with a wrongful death attorney, you will have an easier time because they will tell you the options at your disposal when seeking reparation and compensation as a result of wrongful death.
What Damages can be Recovered From a Wrongful Death Claim?
There are two categories when it comes to wrongful death lawsuit:
The damages are those recovered by the loved ones; it should be recognized by the state.
The Loss of Support and Services
This will involve the monetary contribution and property, and also the tasks the deceased performed.
- Loss of Companionship and Protection: this is the effect it is going to have on the survivors as a result of the loss.
- Loss of Parental Companionship, guidance, and instruction: These damages can only apply if there are children under the age of 25 years. If the children are over 25 years, they can recover this when there is no surviving spouse.
- Mental Pain and Suffering: Five survivors can recover these damages, and they are: minor children, the surviving spouse, and if the spouse is not there then the adult children, the parents of the deceased minor child and the parents of an adult child of there are no survivors.
- Funeral and medical expenses paid by a surviving family member
This will include the properties of the deceased that he/she left behind for the beneficiaries in a will.
Loss of Income as a Result of the Death
These are the earning the deceased could have potentially from the day they got inured to the day they passed away.
Lost Net Accumulations
These are potential earnings from all the sources that the deceased could have made, and it will include work, investment, and others.
The Funeral and Medical Expenses of the Deceased:
These can be recovered if the survivors used their finances to cover them.
What Amount of Money Can I Expect from a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The process of determining the exact amount is not as simple as it looks because several factors have to be put into consideration.
The first thing done is determining whether there is a valid claim, and there are conditions that have to be met before it is considered a valid claim;
- Another party is fully or partially at-fault for the incident that led to the loss of life
- The negligence of the defendant directly resulted in the death of your loved one
- The death has negatively affected the surviving family members who are entitled to get compensation as a result
- There were monetary damages as a result of the death of the loved one
Once this is done, the next step is establishing the survivors who are eligible to pursue the claim. This will include;
- Blood relatives or adoptive siblings who were depending on the deceased in some way
The final step is to establish if the accused party has a way of paying the settlement or judgment. If the accused is a business with insurance and assets or a big corporation, there is a good chance they are going to settle or a judgment going in the favor of the survivors who will then get paid on the deceased’s behalf. If the accused is an individual with no insurance or assets, then it can be pointless to pursue the claim because the chances of getting compensation are very low. You should also keep in mind that even if there is insurance, the cover of the policy tends to be limited.
The nature of wrongful death cases tends to be complex, which makes it important to have an experienced attorney with knowledge of the laws surrounding wrongful death and the best legal options for you and your loved one.
How Long Does A Wrongful Death Case Take in Florida?
The case can take years to complete. This process can also be very emotional. Below are the steps that are going to be taken during the wrongful death case.
- Appointing the deceased’s person’s estate executor
- Gathering of information that relates to the cause of death of the loved one and the survivors
- Filing a claim for damages
- A request for monetary settlement from the accused – In most cases, these cases are not settled because of the intricate nature and will always lead to the filing of the lawsuit.
- If the parties don’t settle, then the legal claim is drafted or the complaint begins and the defendant is served and also the county clerk so that the lawsuit can commence.
- Discovery happens – This is the stage where both parties request for admissions, various documents, and statements from the other party
- Summoning of the witnesses while under oath, and asking them questions in regards to:
– the cause of the death and other specifics of the case
– the circumstances surrounding the death
– the extent of the damages owed to the survivors and the estate
- Before the trial date is set, there is a mediation conference that will be held by the parties, and the goal is to try can resolve the case without the need of going to trial.
- If the parties don’t reach an agreement, the trial date is going to be set and the jury will hear the case and determine whether the accused is at fault. – The jury is going to come up with an amount they see as appropriate
- If the verdict favors the estate of the deceased, the damages are going to be awarded to the survivors and estate of the deceased.
- If the verdict favors the accused, the case is going to be thrown away and there will be no compensation.
- There is a right of appeal if any of the party feels like they are not satisfied with the outcome of the case.
Given the time it will take to finish this process, it is important to get an experienced attorney who will make sure your case proceeds well with no critical information left out.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims We Can Handle
All kinds of accidents and negligence can result in filing a wrongful death. Some common causes of wrongful deaths include;
Automobile Accident Wrongful Death
This can happen when the driver operating the vehicle is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This can also happen because of reckless driving and over-speeding.
The leading cause of automobile accident wrongful death is distracted driving. All too often our car accident lawyers see drivers texting while at the wheel. Aging, driver fatigue, and inexperience are other contributors to car accidents.
The driver might not be at fault in some of the incidences. If the road that the accident took place is in a poor condition and poses a hazard or if there is a defect in the car because of the manufacturer. Many different factors can contribute to an auto accident that causes a wrongful death, and this is why an investigation needs to be done to determine the exact circumstances surrounding an accident as soon as possible.
Truck Accident Wrongful Death
Accidents that involve trucks tend to be devastating. The causes of truck accidents are the same as car accidents. The leading cause of trucking accidents is fatigue. The reason why this is the case is that truck drivers tend to spend a lot of hours behind the wheels because they drive for long distances without getting enough rest in between. While there are strict regulations set by the federal government that outlines the number of hours a truck driver can spend on the road without breaks, many trucking companies will overwork their drivers and puts them under a lot of pressure because they are forced to make deliveries over a long distance in a short time. This always leads to fatigue. When a person is fatigued, the concentration is at a minimum, and can easily fall asleep while driving the truck.
DUI driving is something that all types of drivers do, and this includes truck drivers. Taking alcohol or drugs, whether legal or illegal, is going to affect the ability of the driver to properly drive and make decisions when behind the wheel. When truck drivers can deliver goods fast, they can easily retain their job. They are under a lot of pressure, and this can lead to reckless driving because they feel like their job is on the line. Driving for many hours without breaks will cause boredom, and some decide to entertain themselves by texting and making phone calls, which can easily lead to distracted driving.
Another common problem is trucking companies failing to properly maintain their vehicles. Some don’t provide adequate training for their drivers. When you come to us for a case, our truck accident lawyers are going to do an investigation that will cover the role of the trucking company and driver in the accident. Other things that need to be investigated include manufacturer defects, weather conditions, and the state of the road.
Nursing Home Abuse Wrongful Death
Nursing homes are required to provide the best possible care for their residents, and this is stipulated in the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. This will involve taking care of their mental, physical, and psychological needs. If a loved one dies because of negligence or abuse, then a claim can be raised against the nursing home. Some of the ways negligence can be established include falls and resulting injuries, medication errors, malnutrition, choking, infections and sepsis, lack of oxygen, etc. If the residents are not getting good care, it can result in them straying and harming themselves. If the death was a result of negligence or abuse, compensation can be claimed.
Boating Accident Wrongful Death
There is a certain standard of care needed when operating a boat. If there is an accident caused by a person driving a boat that results in wrongful death, then the laws used for cars on the roads will be applied. The Harbors and Navigation Code (HNC) states that no person should control water skis, operate any vessels, an aquaplane, and other devices in a manner that is reckless or negligent that can result in injury, damage to property, or endangering the life of others.
Motorcycle Accident Wrongful Death
The most vulnerable road users are motorcycle riders. The leading cause of motorbike rider deaths is getting hit by an automobile. The causes of these accidents are the same as those of truck and automobile accident wrongful deaths. The deadliest type of motorcycle accident is head-on collisions. When a driver is distracted, drunk, or recklessly makes a left-hand turn, it can easily cause an accident. When you hire us to help you with your wrongful death case, we are going to have a look at the different circumstances surrounding the case, including the behavior of the accused driver and other aspects of the incident. Our motorcycle accident lawyers will also look at the manufacturer of the vehicle, the condition of the rod, and anything that is related to the claim.
Work Accident Wrongful Death
Wrongful accidents can happen anywhere, even when at work. The industries that see the deadliest accident are the manufacturing and construction industries, which is largely contributed to by the nature of such jobs. Faulty machinery, explosions, exposure to toxic chemicals, and falls are some of the most common causes of wrongful death in the workplace. This can happen once as an accident or gradually over time due to exposure to toxic and harmful substances.
Can I File a Lawsuit Against a Healthcare Provider?
You cannot sue healthcare providers because they are exempted from lawsuits involving medical negligence resulting in wrongful death. You can sue;
- Licensed vocational nurses
- Registered nurses
- Walk-in medical centers and clinics
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
Common medical malpractice claims are caused by accidents including:
- A completely different or unprecedented outcome from treatment or surgery
- If no sensible explanation is given for deterioration of the condition or death
- A serious injury or death as a result of routine operations and treatments.
- Death because of a given procedure
There is a statute of limitations of two years after the incident on medical malpractices in Florida. These can be extended if the facility intentionally hid or withheld an irresponsible action from the victim.
The law requires you to start by serving a notice of intent of filing a lawsuit before you go to court. This process is going to start with a medical affidavit known as the Certificate of Merit. This is going to contain the opinion of another medical professional who has gone through the case and provided a statement on the negligent actions of the accused party that led to the death of the deceased. This document is going to contain:
- The description of the medical standard of care that should have been followed by the accused party.
- The identification of the examined medical records
- The opinion that the party accused did not follow the relevant standard of care
- The opinion that the negligence of the accused resulted in the plaintiff getting injured; although this is not a must.
- The reasoning of the physician
When this notice is given, it is going to trigger a settlement process that will take 90 days. This is the period where the verification of adherence to the statute of limitations is evaluated. This 90-day timeframe is when the institution is going to decide whether they are going to settle or not. An extension can be granted in some circumstances, especially when more investigation is needed. Having an expert to help you with this process is important because of the many laws that have to be considered when filing the claim and following up with the case.
To get a Free Consultation, Contact Our New Port Richey Wrongful Death Lawyers.
If your loved one is a victim of wrongful death, then it might fall into one of the above-mentioned categories, or it can be very different from the circumstances mentioned above. Investigations need to be done fast when it comes to dealing with wrongful death claims. This is why we are urging you to contact our New Port Richey injury law firm for a free consultation so we can look at the details of the case and the unique aspects of it.