If someone in your family died in a car accident in Florida that wasn’t their fault, then you can claim damages by filing a lawsuit in civil court. Before filing the claim, it is necessary to gather evidence and prove liability, meet the statute of limitations, determine the value of your claim and then file the claim with the court.
Losing a loved one is always an incredibly difficult experience, but when their death could have been prevented, it can make the loss even more painful. A wrongful death claim can hold the at-fault party to account and take away the financial stress you may be experiencing following the death of a family member.
Following the death of a family member, you shouldn’t have to deal with the stress of a legal battle. Florida’s legal system is complex, and an attorney can do the legal work for you, so you don’t have to. They will also strive to maximize the amount of compensation that you receive. Contact The Law Place today for a free consultation at (941) 444-4444.
The Legal Definition of Wrongful Death
According to Florida Statute 768.21, the definition of wrongful death is,
“The wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract.”
Wrongful death is when someone dies because of a legal fault of another party. Examples include:
- Negligence (such as a car accident).
- A defective product.
- Medical malpractice.
- An intentional act (including crimes).
Car accidents are usually because of another driver’s negligence. As a driver, you have a duty of care to those around you to keep them safe. If someone acts in a negligent way – which means they break the rules of the road or do not act as a reasonable person would have, and those actions lead to the death of another person, then they can be held liable for wrongful death.
For example, if another driver speeds through a red light, and that leads to an accident that killed your loved one, you could pursue a wrongful death claim against them.
Another scenario of a wrongful death claim after a car accident could be defective products. If the car your loved one was driving was unsafe, then it is possible for a wrongful death claim to be made against a car manufacturer or even a mechanic.
On the other hand, if road conditions led to the danger that caused a car accident, then it could be the organization responsible for the maintenance of the road that is responsible.
The Law Place offers a free consultation to help you determine whether you are eligible to file a claim before you pursue a legal battle.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a Car Accident in Florida?
In accordance with Florida Statute 768. 20, a personal representative of the decedent’s estate must file a wrongful death lawsuit. The personal representative can claim damages on behalf of surviving family members, including a spouse, children, parents, or other dependents.
A personal representative is the executor of the estate, as outlined in the victim’s will. If the deceased person did not have a will or did not select an executor of their estate, the court will appoint someone.
Possible Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida
In a successful wrongful death claim, the defendant will be ordered to pay damages designed to compensate the family for both their emotional suffering and their financial losses.
As per Florida Statute 768.21, damages are broken down into two categories, those awarded to the deceased person’s estate and those awarded to the family.
Damages Awarded to the Estate
Damages awarded to the state cover the economic losses of the deceased, for example:
- Lost wages from the date of the deceased person’s injury, up until their death.
- The value of wages that the deceased could have been expected to earn and leave as part of their estate if they had lived.
- Any costs that were paid directly by the estate, such as medical bills or funeral costs.
Damages Awarded to the Family
The family can be awarded both economic and non-economic damages. For example;
- Medical and funeral expenses that were paid for by a surviving family member.
- The economic loss of surviving family members who relied on financial support from the deceased.
- Pain and suffering damages, which are designed to compensate for emotional suffering. Examples include loss of parental guidance and loss of companionship and affection.
Does the Defendant Need to Be Found Guilty of a Crime in Order to Claim Damages?
The defendant does not need to be found guilty of any crime in order for them to be liable for damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. While this may sound strange, it allows more people to claim damages successfully.
In Florida, a wrongful death lawsuit works in a similar way to a personal injury lawsuit. In both cases, the liability of the defendant is expressed in terms of damages (financial compensation), but in a wrongful death claim, the damages are awarded to the family of the deceased rather than the victim of negligence.
On the other hand, a conviction for criminal homicide could lead to prison time, fines paid to the state, probation, and other penalties.
For a conviction, the defendant’s guilt must be established “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This can be a very difficult thing for the prosecution to secure.
However, personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are civil lawsuits. In civil lawsuits, the liability of the defendant needs only to be established” by a preponderance of the evidence.” It must only be proven that the defendant was more than likely responsible.
Many cases will result in both a criminal conviction and a wrongful death lawsuit, meaning that the defendant can face criminal charges and be sued in civil court for the same action. However, a criminal conviction is not necessary to claim damages in a wrongful death claim, and where a conviction is not possible, you may still be able to claim compensation.
Statutes of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims
The statute of limitations (the amount of time you have to make a claim) is outlined in Florida Statute 95.11.
Following a personal injury case based on negligence, you have four years to file a claim. However, in a wrongful death lawsuit, you have just two years from the date of your loved one’s death to make a claim.
Building a successful wrongful death claim can be time-consuming, and gathering evidence to prove liability is often easier soon after the accident. It could involve things like police reports, medical records, CCTV, witness statements, photographs of the accident, and even accident reconstruction specialists.
It is important that you seek help as soon as possible. We understand that you may feel that you need more time to grieve before pursuing a legal battle, but you can rest assured that when you seek representation from The Law Place, we will do everything possible to take away some of the stress and handle the legal bit on your behalf.
How Much Will It Cost?
At The Law Place, our attorneys work on a contingency basis, monitored by The State Bar Association. This means that our fee is deducted as a percentage of your eventual payment. You pay nothing upfront, there are no hidden costs, and if your case is unsuccessful, then we will not receive anything.
A Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help Your Family
At The Law Place, we first offer a free legal consultation so that you can ask any questions you may have before you agree to representation.
Once you sign the dotted line, an experienced wrongful death attorney will become your advocate. They will be on hand to answer questions and will work tirelessly to maximize the amount of compensation you could receive.
With your permission, they will also discuss your case with their whole team so that you can benefit from a range of skills and experiences. After all, many pairs of eyes are better than one, and this gives your case the best chance of success!
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney in Florida Today
Wrongful death cases are complicated. The insurance company of the at-fault driver in a fatal car accident will likely have their own wrongful death lawyer on hand to limit the amount they need to payout. It is important that you have a wrongful death attorney who can guide you through the legal process.
Our lawyers prioritize the attorney-client relationship and will always keep any sensitive or confidential information secure. We have dealt with many wrongful death cases and will always be respectful and attentive to your personal experience.
Following the loss of immediate family members, it is important that you do not have to suffer financially, as this only adds stress to an already difficult situation. We will do everything possible to maximize the compensation you receive.
To book your free case evaluation today, contact The Law Place today at (941) 444-4444.