Wrongful deaths are especially painful and difficult to come to terms with. When someone else’s negligence results in the death of a loved one, it can feel like the world is caving in around you. It may seem unbelievable to think that someone’s recklessness or carelessness killed your loved one. The knowledge that proper care and attention might have prevented death is devastating. The Tampa wrongful death attorneys at Fiol Law Group empathize with surviving family members after the wrongful death of a loved one. Contact our office today and let us help you during this difficult time.
Why File a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim may be the last thing on your mind after the death of a loved one. Your focus may be on planning a funeral, paying for burial expenses, or sorting through the mountain of medical bills left behind. However, a wrongful death claim can:
- Help you recover costs and compensate your family for other damages.
- Give you a much-needed sense of closure. Pursuing justice for your deceased wife, husband, child, or parent can give your family what it needs to begin to heal.
- Shed light on the defendant’s negligence and help others. By exposing negligence, these claims can prevent future wrongful death cases.
Why Choose Us?
- We are powerful advocates for our clients. We have the passion to stand up for your rights and pursue monetary damages after wrongful death.
- We are proud to handle cases for surviving family members in Florida. Our firm has helped clients through difficult times since its foundation in 2002.
- We accept wrongful death claims on a contingency fee basis. We do not charge any fees or costs unless we succeed in recovering compensation for your damages.
What is the statute of limitations for a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
Generally, surviving family members have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim. There are some exceptions, however. The Jeffrey Klee Memorial Act of 2010 removed the two year statute of limitations when the deceased was a victim of murder or manslaughter. Other exceptions exist, but are not as black and white. Our Tampa personal injury lawyers will be able to identify such exceptions while discussing your case in a free consultation.
Florida’s Wrongful Death Act
Florida Statutes section 768.19 states that the estate of a deceased person may bring a civil suite if the death is caused by any “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty.” The following people are entitled to receive compensation after a wrongful death:
- The deceased’s spouse, children, or parents
- Blood relatives who are dependent on the deceased for support
Any representative who is named in the deceased’s will must initiate the wrongful death claim. If there is no will, the surviving spouse is generally considered the representative. If there is no spouse or the spouse is also deceased, then the representative will be chosen by the remaining family members. The court will appoint one if they cannot decide.
Damages in Wrongful Death Claims
If your lawsuit is successful, the courts may award you compensation for the damages you and your family have suffered. Damages in these kinds of cases include:
- Payment for the value of lost support and services
- Loss of companionship
- Mental and emotional pain and suffering
- Medical/funeral expenses family members paid
- Lost wages and benefits
- Medical/funeral expenses the estate paid
The amounts of damages you receive in a wrongful death case will vary depending on the circumstances of your loved one’s death. Speak to Fiol Law Group for a more detailed idea of what types of damages your family may be eligible to receive.
How Are Wrongful Death Damages Calculated?
The total damages in a wrongful death case are a pecuniary loss, which means of or related to money. The law determines pecuniary loss based on characteristics of the deceased. This may include their age, character and condition, earning capacity, life expectancy, health and intelligence, and circumstances of the beneficiaries.
The process of calculating pecuniary loss is complicated and different in every case. The jury will most likely consider two major factors – loss of income and loss of parental guidance. This may change if the individual was not working or if they had higher than average future potential earnings.
Also, if the individual had a history of spending their income frivolously, this might reduce the amount of compensation. The jury may also decide that an individual with poor earnings who supported several children, may still only be eligible for minimum compensation. The decision of the jury is highly dependent upon what information and documentation the beneficiaries can provide.
What About Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are unique to certain wrongful death claims. Punitive damages are the damages awarded in order to punish the wrongdoer. This often deters the individual from repeat behavior and prevents other individuals from performing similar behaviors. If the defendant committed serious or malicious wrongdoing, the jury will most likely award punitive damages. However, some states do not consider punitive damages. Your attorney will be able to advise whether your state allows punitive damages or not.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wrongful Death
Q. Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
When a loved one unfortunately dies from a fatal accident, family members of the child are potentially capable of filing a wrongful death suit. According to the Florida Wrongful Death Act, spouses, blood relatives, dependent siblings and the children of the deceased have the power to file a wrongful death claim and receive compensation for their pain and suffering and/or financial support, if the survivor was a dependent of the deceased.
Q. Who Can Be Sued for Wrongful Death?
The at-fault party may be an individual; a business; or a federal, state, local government agency. If a party acted negligently, there is an option to sue.
Q. What is the difference between wrongful death and homicide?
These differ on a few factors. First, the standard of evidence. A wrongful death case is a civil case and a homicide is a criminal case. The standard of evidence is much lower in civil cases than criminal cases. Evidence in civil cases must show that your argument is more than likely true. Evidence in criminal cases must prove beyond reasonable doubt. This is because damages in criminal cases are much more severe. The defendant in a criminal case could face years of imprisonment, in addition to other fiscal penalties.
What Causes Wrongful Death in Florida?
Almost any circumstance could result in an individual’s accidental or wrongful death. However, some accidents lead to fatalities more often than others in the state of Florida. In our years of experience, we have come to recognize the most common causes of wrongful death as auto accidents, commercial truck accidents, medical malpractice, unsafe premises, workplace accidents, defective drugs and products, and criminal acts. If you are unsure whether your loved one’s recent fatal accident gives you grounds for a lawsuit, talk to our attorneys.
Get Help from Our Tampa Lawyers
The wrongful death lawyers at Fiol Law Group are dedicated to helping victims in Tampa. Don’t let the responsible party get away without facing justice. Fiol Law Group may be able to help you receive the money you need during this tough time. Call (813) 223-6773 or fill out our online contact form to speak with one of our attorneys.