Losing a loved one isn’t easy. When a death is the result of another party’s negligence or intentional act, it can be particularly devastating. If a loved one was killed due to another party’s negligent or intentional actions, you may be entitled to compensation under the law.
The knowledgeable and compassionate Parrish wrongful death lawyers at Winters & Yonker will represent you by filing a claim or lawsuit on behalf of your loved one’s estate, and if necessary, litigating the case through the Florida courts.
How Is Wrongful Death Defined in the State of Florida?
Florida’s Wrongful Death Act defines a wrongful death as a death caused by negligence, wrongful action, default, or breach of contract or warranty. The person, persons, or company responsible can be sued for damages.
Who is Qualified to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
Under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, the deceased’s personal representative can file a claim to recover compensation for survivors. Those defined as “survivors” include the deceased’s:
- Children (including those born out of wedlock)
- Dependent adoptive siblings
- Dependent blood relatives
What Types of Damages Are Recoverable?
The Florida Wrongful Death Statute clearly defines what damages are available to the survivors in a wrongful death case:
- Lost earnings from the date of injury to death
- Medical and funeral expenses
- Mental pain and suffering
- Loss of guidance, care, and companionship provided by the person to loved ones
- Pain and suffering before the death of the victim
- Future lost income the decedent would have earned
- Loss of support services provided by the decedent
How Is Negligence Proved in a Wrongful Death Case?
Wrongful death cases in Florida are governed by personal injury law, which means that most of these situations are based on one party’s negligence contributing to another person’s death. To prove that someone was legally negligent, all the criteria below must apply to a case:
The plaintiff is required to show the court that the defendant actually owed the deceased a duty of care in the given situation.
The plaintiff is also required to show how the defendant breached their duty of care. This could be either through a specific action or inaction when a reasonable person in a similar situation would have acted appropriately.
The plaintiff is also required to prove that the defendant’s breach of duty directly resulted in the death in question.
The decedent’s death resulted in monetary and other kinds of losses for their family.
While the ultimate outcome of the incident/accident was a fatality, it is still possible for the deceased to bear some degree of fault in their own death. That’s the basic premise of comparative negligence. While it might seem unfair to apply the doctrine of comparative negligence in wrongful death claims, it can and often plays a significant role in many such cases.
Under pure comparative negligence, a court typically assigns a plaintiff a percentage of fault to represent the ways in which they contributed to either causing or exacerbating their injuries. The court would then reduce the plaintiff’s final damage award by whatever percentage of fault they actually found to bear.
How Do You Start a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
If you are the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, you may have the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. You need to take the steps below as quickly as possible since your time for pursuing a claim is limited by the state’s statute of limitations, which is 2 years for wrongful death.
- Understand whether you have a valid claim or case. If another party’s negligent or intentional action resulted in the decedent’s death, then their estate may have the legal right to pursue a wrongful death claim.
- Preserve any evidence: To protect your wrongful death claim from motions to dismiss, you require some evidence proving that another party’s negligent or intentional actions resulted in your loved one’s death.
- Prepare and file a complaint: You must prepare and file a complaint in accordance with the rules of the court. It should include the defendant’s identity, the elements of your wrongful death case, and the compensation you are seeking from the court.
The 3 steps above are difficult under the best of circumstances and can be particularly challenging following the death of a loved one. That’s why you need to consider hiring and retaining the services of an experienced lawyer.
A good wrongful death lawyer such as those at Winters & Yonker will help you understand how a wrongful death lawsuit works along with how to protect your rights. Furthermore, they can investigate your claim, ensure that relevant evidence is gathered, file the complaint in court, and represent you during settlement negotiations or even at trial.
What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and an Estate Claim?
A wrongful death claim is usually filed by the decedent’s estate seeking a legal remedy for the death and resulting losses suffered by family members if the decedent’s death was the result of negligence, a wrongful act, default, or breach of contract by another party.
A survival action, on the other hand, is essentially a continuation of an already existing legal claim that was already being pursued prior to the decedent’s death. A survival action seeks to recover damages for the pain and suffering endured by the decedent from his/her injuries prior to death, but it is payable to the decedent’s estate.
Contact Our Parrish Wrongful Death Lawyers
After a loss, families often have to deal with financial stress in addition to their grief. They need to pay for medical bills and funeral expenses and adjust to living without the deceased’s income.
If someone’s negligence or wrongful actions caused your loved one’s death, Winters & Yonker can help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Contact us today by calling (888) 373-7770 or using the contact form provided for your free, no-obligation consultation.