Advocating For Families In Wrongful Death Claims
Losing a spouse, parent, or child can be utterly devastating. It has the power to completely alter the trajectory of your life, leaving you forever changed. When the passing of a loved one is a direct result of another person’s negligence, whether it be an individual, professional, or corporation, an additional layer of complexity is added to their death. In such cases, it becomes imperative to hold those responsible accountable.
In our current legal system, when no crime has been committed, the only recourse for seeking justice for the loss of your loved one is through a civil wrongful death claim. This may involve pursuing compensation through an insurance claim or filing a lawsuit. As surviving family members, you have the right to demand the compensation you deserve.
If you find yourself grappling with the aftermath of losing a family member and need guidance on your rights and options, we encourage you to reach out to Fiol & Morros Law. Our team is here to provide you with a free consultation, where we can discuss your case in detail and help you navigate this challenging journey.
Common Causes Of Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death claims can arise from various circumstances, often involving the negligence or misconduct of another party. Some of the most common causes include:
- Auto Accidents: These are one of the leading causes of wrongful death claims. They can occur due to reckless driving, drunk driving, or poor vehicle maintenance.
- Medical Malpractice: This includes situations where a healthcare professional’s negligence leads to a patient’s death, such as misdiagnosis, surgical errors, or improper treatment.
- Workplace Accidents: These occur when an employee dies due to unsafe work conditions or lack of adequate safety measures.
- Product Liability: This involves death caused by defective or dangerous products. Manufacturers, distributors, or retailers can be held accountable in these cases.
- Premises Liability: This includes cases where a property owner’s negligence leads to fatal accidents, such as slips and falls or insufficient security measures.
- Nursing Home Abuse: Elderly individuals may die due to the negligence or abuse of nursing home staff.
- Bicycle Accidents: Cyclists are often vulnerable on the road, and accidents can lead to fatal injuries.
It’s important to remember that each case is unique, and establishing the cause and liability in a wrongful death claim can be complex. Therefore, seeking professional legal guidance is crucial.
Statute of Limitations in Florida
In general, surviving family members who are personal representatives have a two-year timeframe from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim in Florida. However, there are exceptions to this rule. The Jeffrey Klee Memorial Act of 2010 eliminated the two-year statute of limitations in cases where the deceased was a victim of murder or manslaughter. There are also other exceptions that are more nuanced. During a complimentary consultation, our personal injury attorneys will be able to identify and discuss these exceptions while reviewing your case.
Determining Negligence and Liability
The at-fault party can be an individual, business, or a government agency at the federal, state, or local level. If a party has acted negligently, there is an option to pursue legal action. To successfully hold someone accountable for wrongful death, the plaintiff must establish the following:
- The defendant had a duty of care towards the victim.
- The defendant breached this duty of care.
- The breach of duty directly caused the victim’s death.
- The victim’s death resulted in damages to the plaintiff.
By demonstrating these elements, the plaintiff can seek justice and hold the responsible party liable for their actions.
Wrongful Death Compensation
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 a wrongful death attorney will vary depending on the circumstances of your loved one’s death. Speak to Fiol & Morros Law Group for a more detailed idea of what types of damages your family may be eligible to receive.
Punitive damages are unique to certain wrongful death claims. These special damages are awarded with the purpose of punishing the wrongdoer, serving as a deterrent against repeat behavior and discouraging others from engaging in similar actions. If the defendant is found to have committed serious or malicious wrongdoing, it is likely that the jury will grant punitive damages. However, it is important to note that some states may not recognize these damages. It is advisable to consult with your attorney to determine whether punitive damages are allowed in your state.
Who is Eligible To File 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.
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.
Find A Wrongful Death Lawyer You Can Trust
The Tampa wrongful death lawyers at Fiol & Morros Law Group are dedicated to helping victims. Don’t let the responsible party get away without facing justice. Fiol & Morros Law Group may be able to help you receive the money you need during this tough time. Call (813) 550-0094 or fill out our online contact form to speak with one of our attorneys.