Losing a loved one is never easy and a devastating accident. Nevertheless, a wrongful death accident may arise from a car accident, workplace accident, defective product, medical malpractice, and many more. In such a case, the family has the right to seek monetary compensation.
If you have lost a loved one due to malicious, deliberate, or negligence manner by others, talk to our Safety Harbor wrongful death lawyers. We will help you seek the compensation you are rightfully owed. Our lawyer will fight to win the case and help you get closure so that your family can move forward after the accident. Our personal injury lawyers offer a free initial consultation service where we evaluate your case, answer any question you may have, and determine the best legal action; all without any obligation. Call us today at (888) 373-7770 and make an appointment for your free case evaluation.
Table of Contents
How Is Wrongful Death Defined In The State Of Florida?
A wrongful death case in Florida is not a criminal case but a civil case, and it provides a way and means for a victim or family member to obtain monetary compensation. Nevertheless, when it comes to these kinds of cases, a lawyer has to consider the definition of wrongful death according to Florida statute before filing a lawsuit.
According to Florida Wrongful Death Act statute section, 768.19 – a person can legally file a case against any responsible person when any death is caused by any forms of wrongful act, default, negligence, or a breach of warranty or contract. Therefore, according to this definition, it included intentional acts like hitting someone with a baseball bat, negligence like in a car accident, and breach of warranty or contract like in a defective product.
Who Is Qualified To File A Wrongful Death Claim In Florida?
Florida law requires a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate to file a wrongful death claim. The representative must be named in the deceased person’s Will or estate plan. In the event there is no Will or estate plan, the court will appoint a personal representative. However, it is wise to note that even if a wrongful death case is filed by the estate representative; it is done on behalf of the remaining family members.
As such, the family members who may recover the damages according to Florida’s Statute include:
- The deceased person’s close family unit (the partner, offspring, and parents)
- Any adopted or blood relative who depended on the deceased either partially or wholly
NOTE: If a child is born to an unmarried parent (mother), the child has the legal right to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit if his or her mother is dead. On the other hand, if the father dies, a child may recover compensation only if the father officially acknowledged the child as his own.
What Types Of Damages Are Recoverable Through A Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is intended to compensate the surviving family member for losing a loved one. For this reason, they are liable to get compensatory damage. In some cases, the court may decide to award the deceased person’s family with punitive damages. The state has rules or laws for awarding damages in a wrongful death lawsuit, which can be found in Florida Statute Section 768.21. this law covers:
Compensatory damage is a blanket or covers both economic and non-economic damages. Both of these damages must be awarded making them compulsory.
This term refers to losses that can be calculated like medical and funeral expenses, potential earning, benefits, and others.
This term is used to describe losses that cannot be physically calculated, such as loss of companionship, loss of guidance, loss of instruction, mental pain and suffering, loss of protection, and others.
The amount awarded will depend on several factors like the deceased person’s age, earning potential, deceased person’s dependent members, and others.
The Florida civil court may decide to award punitive damages to the surviving members if there is proof showing the negligent third party was intentionally reckless or grossly negligent. Punitive damages are not compulsory and only awarded as a way to punish the negligent party.
How Is Negligence Proven In A Wrongful Death Case?
Before a wrongful death lawyer files a wrongful death case, the first thing they must do is establish that the case satisfies the definition of wrongful death. This means establishing the following elements to prevent the case from being dismissed. These include:
- Duty of care – The descendant must prove that the defendant owed the deceased person’s decedents a duty of care.
- Breach of duty of care – The descendant must demonstrate how the defendant violated the duty of care. It may be through a specific action or inaction.
- Causation – The descendant must show that the death resulted from the defendant’s actions
- Damage – The plaintiff must show that the defendant’s breach of duty of care caused the death.
How Do You Start A Wrongful Death Claim In Florida?
After the necessary information has been gathered about the survivors and the cause of death, a demand for damages will be filed against the defendant. The first action is always trying to settle through negotiations. If a disagreement arises and the claim is not settled, a complaint will be drafted and presented in a civil court.
Discovery will take place where both parties will be required to provide all necessary documents, witnesses, and anything else relevant to the court. A mediation conference will be held to determine if the case can be settled. If an agreement is not reached through mediation, a trial date will be set.
What Is The Difference Between Wrongful Death Claim And Estate Claim?
Although the wrongful death and estate claim appear to be similar and arise from a single event, two distinct things separate both of them. These are; the persons who file the claim and the damages recovered.
- In a wrongful death claim case, only those who have been listed as representatives by the Will or estate plan are allowed to sue the responsible party for the death.
- In an estate claim case, the descendant’s estate will try to recover expenses that arise from funeral/burial, medication, staff salary, and some cases pain suffered by the victim before death.
Schedule A Free Consultation With A Safety Harbor Wrongful Death Lawyer
Have you lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence or carelessness? Get in touch with our Winters and Yonker wrongful death attorney today.
We offer free initial consultation services, where we evaluate your case, answer any question you may have, and offer the best legal action. We do all this without any obligation. When we work on your case, we do not get paid unless we win you the compensation. That is because we work on a contingency basis. Call us today at (888) 373-7770, and let us help you protect your rights.