If you have lost someone that you love, you are most likely experiencing pain and grief. Coping with this kind of loss is difficult, especially if another party’s negligence caused the death of your loved one. While no amount of money will bring back your family member, those who are at fault need to be held accountable. In these circumstances, you may have the right to file a wrongful death claim and receive the compensation which you and your family deserve. Florida has a two-year statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death suit, so it is imperative that you contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Discuss your case with one of the compassionate, knowledgeable lawyers at Sibley Dolman’s Boca Raton location by calling (561) 220-4963 for a free consultation.
What Is Wrongful Death?
According to Florida law (Statute 768.19) a wrongful death occurs “when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters.” The law also states that the victim must have been able to recover damages if he or she had not died. Florida law states that only certain family members may file a wrongful death suit:
- the victim’s spouse, children, or parents
- a blood relative or sibling that has been adopted who was partially or wholly dependent on the victim
- Children born to unmarried parents may recover damages if his or her mother dies. In the event that the father dies, he must have formally acknowledged his child and required to pay child support.
Who Can Be at Fault for Wrongful Death?
A wide variety of scenarios may give rise to a wrongful death case. Here are some common examples:
- Traffic accidents where the other driver was reckless or under the influence
- Dangerous conditions in nursing homes because of negligence such as choking, malnutrition, and broken bones
- Work-related accidents such as an accident on a construction site
- Pharmaceutical errors, surgical errors, and other types of medical malpractice
When dealing with a wrongful death claim, it is important to remember that there can actually be several parties that contributed negligence to the accident that took a loved one’s life. More parties that are liable for the damages that you have suffered, means a greater chance that your settlement will be able to fully cover those damages. With the right attorney, you can determine who exactly is liable for your loved one’s wrongful death and you can get the compensation that you not only need but deserve after having to go through such a loss.
What Kind of Damages Might Be Recovered When a Wrongful Death Occurs?
A wrongful death suit is a civil claim that is filed by the victim’s estate or surviving family members, as opposed to a criminal case that may be brought to court by the government. Compensation for damages is only awarded in civil cases, not criminal cases and relies on several factors such as the financial need of surviving dependents, the anticipated lifespan of the victim, and the extent to which the victim may be at fault for his or her own death. Florida law governs the types of damages that surviving family members may receive:
- Compensation for service or support that the deceased provided to a surviving family member
- Compensation for the loss of companionship, protection, and/or guidance that was provided by the deceased
- Compensation for psychological pain, grief, and suffering due to the loss of a child
- Compensation for medical and funeral expenses paid by a surviving family member
The court may also award the victim’s estate some types of damages:
- Compensation for lost wages, benefits, and other earnings. This also includes future wages that the victim would have made
- Compensation for the value of earnings that the estate could have had if the victim lived, also called “prospective net accumulations”
- Compensation for medical and funeral expenses that estate paid
In What Ways Will Those Liable Try to Get out of Paying Their Fair Share?
When there is a wrongful death claim, those who are liable will try every way they can to avoid paying their fair share. They will often blame others and the victim to remove liability. Although the Florida Wrongful Death Act gives you the right to sue when you lose a loved one, Florida is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that when the case goes to court and if the court finds in your favor, the amount of damages that you receive may be reduced if the liable party proves that the victim was partly to blame. For example, if you are suing for damages of $1000, but the court says that the deceased was 20 percent at fault for his or her death, you will only receive $800. Here are some examples that the defense may use to avoid some or all liability:
- In driving accidents, the defense may claim the victim was inattentive or under the influence.
- In work-related accidents, the victim’s employer may claim that the victim was not doing his or her job correctly
- If the victim died from a dangerous slip-and-fall, the property owner may say the hazard was obvious to the victim or the victim was in an area he or she shouldn’t have been.
You will need to hire an attorney to guide you through the legal process and deal with these counterclaims, so you can focus on finding a way to move on with your life without your loved one. A wrongful death lawyer will make a strong liability case and fight to get you the most money for a settlement that is possible.
How Much Will a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost Me?
Most law firms offer a free consultation in which an attorney will hear the facts of your wrongful death claim and evaluate its viability. If a lawyer takes your case, you will be charged by the hour for his or her expertise. Often, we handle cases on a contingent fee basis. This means that you pay nothing up front. Your lawyer will recover the fees out of any settlement that the court awards you.
If someone that you love has died due to negligence, call one of the skilled attorneys at Sibley Dolman in Boca Raton for a free consultation at (561) 220-4963 or write to us using our online contact form. You may also contact us via our online form. This is a difficult time for your family; don’t fight alone. Sibley Dolman’s wrongful death lawyers understand the best course of action in these cases and can prescribe best practices for investigations. Let us handle witnesses and police reports to determine whether you are eligible for compensation.
Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP
2101 NW Corporate Boulevard, Suite 410
Boca Raton, Florida 33431
What Our Clients Have to Say:
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