If someone you love has suffered a wrongful death through no fault of their own, it is logical to be angry, sad, and even confused. In the chaos that follows such an incident, your thoughts are going to be focused on your loss and your grief. Here at The Law Place, our team of compassionate attorneys is here to help. We will take the burden of dealing with the paperwork and the insurance companies, giving you room to breathe and grieve.
We have over 75 years of collective experience and have dealt with many wrongful death cases for our clients in the past. We will help you seek the full entitled compensation you deserve to help with funeral costs and medical bills. We will investigate the case on your behalf and fight aggressively for the maximum settlement figure possible.
Our phone lines are manned around the clock every day of the week. This means you can call us when you feel you are ready at any time. We will arrange a free consultation to evaluate your case, and once you are happy, we will take the reins and arrange everything on your behalf.
Contact us now for a free, no-obligation consultation at (941) 444-4444.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is the term used when somebody loses their life through the fault of another party’s negligence, reckless or criminal behavior. There are a huge number of different ways this can happen, including car accidents, slip and falls, drowning, and dog attacks. The best thing to do if you are unsure about whether your loved one death counts as wrongful death is to get the free advice of a good accident lawyer. The laws on wrongful death are contained within Florida Statute 768.21.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?
Certain immediate family members can sue after a victim’s death. It is worth bearing in mind, though, that not every family member will be eligible to sue for the wrongful death of a loved one:
In Florida, the family members are:
- The deceased’s spouse.
- Parents or child of the deceased.
- A representative for the deceased’s estate.
If you are eligible to claim for your loved one, you can make a claim for personal injury damages and loss of consortium.
While we understand the nature of these accidents is horrific, we highly recommend that you act with haste in presenting your claim. The sooner you contact a good wrongful death lawsuit attorney, the sooner they can begin to build your case, doing your investigation for you and filling in the paperwork while fighting the other insurance company legal team.
How Does a Spouse File a Claim for Wrongful Death?
If the deceased loved one was your spouse, you are the first and immediate party with the ability to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. You also have the ability to make a claim for any children the deceased member had that are under the age of 18. In these cases, the spouse must receive at least one-third of all damages that result from the claim.
If the deceased party had no children or never married, then their parents may file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.
Other Than Family, Can Anyone Else File a Claim?
Besides the family members listed above, there is only one other party who may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This person is the one who represents the deceased party’s estate. In this situation, this party has been appointed by the court probate, giving them the ability to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the victim.
In this scenario, any damages that are won following the wrongful death claims are held in the deceased party’s estate until the closest surviving next of kin can be found, and the estate is passed on.
However, any damages would be held in the estate until they are passed on to surviving next-of-kin. Any loved ones that don’t fit into the categories above can’t sue for wrongful death on the deceased’s behalf.
Is Filing for Wrongful Death the Same as Making a Murder Accusation?
Filing a wrongful death claim is an effective way to hold the party at fault for your loved one’s death accountable and will allow you to seek justice. It is not, however, the same as a murder accusation.
This is because wrongful death claims are handled with civil law, while murder accusations must be dealt with in criminal courts.
In civil cases, you do not need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, meaning your chances of a win are much higher. Negligence is also, usually, not premeditated. If the wrongful death is the result of a car accident, you may not want to accuse the other party of murder, but you still want to seek justice for their negligence and for your loved one
What Damages Can a Family Member Sue For in Wrongful Death Cases?
When you sue for wrongful death, you are seeking damages that account for the full value of the deceased party’s life. Some of these damages are quantitative, such as:
- Medical bills – All medical bills incurred by the deceased party prior to their death can be claimed for in a wrongful death suit. You can also claim for all transport to and from the hospital, any treatment costs, and any medication costs.
- Lost wages – You can claim for all lost wages, both from when the victim was alive and for all future lost wages. This is to help the family deal with the financial burden of losing a loved one and their wages.
- Funeral costs – All funeral costs should be claimed.
Calculating tangible damages like these are pretty easy as they have easy-to-understand costs attached to them. These damages are known as special damages.
You can also claim for pain and suffering, which are damages that are not tangible and have no set value. These include the physical pain and suffering that someone went through before passing, the mental and emotional trauma they may have endured, and the loss of enjoyment of life that the death has caused the family.
A wrongful death suit isn’t always about the compensation or monetary value. Sometimes we are seeking to punish someone for acting reckless or negligently and causing our loved ones death. In these cases, you might also look to sue for punitive damages. If, for example, someone was driving a commercial truck while under the influence of cocaine, you can seek punitive damages.
Punitive damages come with personal fines that target the accused directly instead of through their insurance company.
What Must Be Proved for a Family Member to Sue for Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death claims are extremely similar to personal injury cases. In both situations, for you to succeed, you need to be able to prove that the other party acted negligently or recklessly. To prove this, you need to consider the following facts:
- Everyone has a reasonable duty of care to act in a reasonable way that prevents the harm of other people.
- If they fail in that duty, they are negligent.
- If that negligence results in injury or death, the negligent person is legally liable for all damages (in other words, all costs or losses from the injury or death).
How Long Does the Family Member Have to File for Wrongful Death Claims?
Florida Statute 95.11 decrees that you have a period of two years following the death of a loved one. This confuses most people, as the statute of limitations for making a personal injury is four years. Make sure that you aren’t caught out by this.
Furthermore, just because you have two years to make your claim, you should not wait this long. The more time your lawyer has to build a solid case, the more chance you stand at receiving the maximum amount of compensation.
Don’t Accept Initial Settlement Offers From Insurance Companies in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Insurance companies employ numerous underhanded tactics to ensure they pay out as little as possible. For them, your wrongful death case is simply a matter of numbers. The lower they can pay, the better.
Never accept their initial offer. Seek the help of a skilled wrongful death attorney and fight them aggressively. This is the best way to ensure that the compensation you obtain is reasonable and fair, and while it won’t replace your lost loved one, it will ensure you can live a life that is as close to normal as possible without financial worries.
They might attempt to pressure you through phone calls. This might be in the form of a polite respectable-sounding caller who asks to record your call. You should always say no to this offer. They might offer you a settlement directly, bypassing your attorney. Never accept this either.
Don’t let an insurance company prevent you from getting the justice and closure you deserve. Instead, file a personal injury claim with a passionate lawyer and hold the at-fault party liable for their negligent actions.
Do You Need Help With a Wrongful Death Claim?
Here at The Law Place, we prioritize our attorney-client relationships. We offer free and immediate legal advice through our phone lines which are manned every hour of the day, every day of the week. We know that in a wrongful death case, your world has been turned upside down, so call us any time. Whenever you are ready, a wrongful death lawyer will be waiting to take your call.
Schedule a free consultation with a lawyer from our Florida office and recover the compensation you and your family deserve by calling us any time on (941) 444-4444!