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 loss of a loved one. Contact our Tampa office today and let us help you recover during this difficult time.
Why Hire a Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney?
A lawsuit 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, our Tampa wrongful death lawyers can:
- Help you recover costs and compensate your family
- Give you a much-needed sense of closure. Pursuing justice for your victim’s wife, husband, child, or parent can give your family what it needs to begin to heal.
- Shed light on the defendant’s negligent actions and help others. By exposing negligence, these claims can prevent future wrongful death lawsuits.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Florida
Generally, surviving personal representatives of the family have two years from the date of death to file a Florida 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.
Determining Negligence and Liability
The at-fault party may be an individual, business; or a federal, state, local government agency. If a party acted negligently, there is an option to sue. In order to successfully hold someone accountable for wrongful death, the plaintiff must show that:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the victim
- That duty of care was breached by the defendant
- That breach of duty caused the victim’s death
- Death of the victim caused damages to the plantiff
Wrongful Death Damages
What type of damages can be awarded in a suit? Under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, damages you may be able to recover in your wrongful death suit include:
- Payment for the value of lost support and services
- Loss of companionship
- Mental and emotional pain and suffering
- Funeral expenses family members and the estate paid
- Lost wages and future earnings
- Medical expenses that both family and the estate paid
The amount you receive with help of an expirienced Tampa wrongful death attorney 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. Florida law determines pecuniary loss based on characteristics of the departed. 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 minor 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. These special damages are 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 these. Your attorney will be able to advise whether your state allows punitive damages or not.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?
Florida Statutes section 768.19 states that the estate of a deceased person may bring a civil suit 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:
- The deceased’s spouse, surviving 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 claim. If there is no will, the surviving spouse is generally considered the representative. If there is no spouse, then the representative will be chosen by the remaining family members. The court will appoint one if they cannot decide.
Causes of Wrongful Death in Tampa
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 to be:
- Car accidents
- Commercial truck accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Unsafe premises
- Workplace accidents
- Defective drugs and products
- Criminal acts.
If you are unsure whether your loved one’s recent fatal accident gives you grounds for a lawsuit, talk to our attorneys.
What is the difference between wrongful death and homicide?
These differ in a few factors. First, the standard of evidence. A wrongful death case is a civil case and homicide is a criminal case. The standard of evidence is much lower in civil cases than in criminal cases. Evidence in civil cases must show that your argument is more than likely true. Evidence in criminal cases must prove beyond a 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.
Tampa Wrongful Death Lawyers You Can Trust
The wrongful death lawyers at Fiol Law Group are dedicated to helping victims in Tampa Bay. 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.
“I’m very pleased to have had Alex Fiol represent me. Professional, respectful, caring and willing to go the extra mile. I’m very pleased to have had Alex Fiol represent me.” – Janet