Coping with the death of a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences imaginable. The pain and grief are often overwhelming, and with the addition of the knowledge that your loved one would still be alive if it weren’t for the negligence of another, it makes the situation even more difficult. No amount of money will bring back the one you love, but those who are liable for his or her death can be held accountable.
If your loved one died because of negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. In Florida, you must file a wrongful death claim within two years of your loved one’s death, so it’s important to contact an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Call (305) 930-7688 to discuss your case with one of the skilled and compassionate lawyers at Sibley Dolman’s Doral office.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Florida law (Statute 768.19) describes a wrongful death as the death of a person that “is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters.” The deceased must have been able to file a personal injury suit in which he or she most likely would have been awarded damages if he or she lived. Florida law clearly defines who may file a wrongful death claim:
- Surviving immediate family members including spouse, children, or parents
- An adopted child or other blood relative that was dependent on the deceased
- In the event that two people are not married and have children, only damages for the mother may be recovered without documentation. To recover damages for a father who dies, he must have formally acknowledged the child and had a child support order on record.
What Types of Accidents Cause Wrongful Deaths?
A wide variety of scenarios may give rise to a wrongful death case. Here are some common examples:
- Traffic accidents including car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents—a driver may have been under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication, for example.
- Accidents with fatigued drivers
- Accidents with distracted drivers that are texting or using their phone
- Medical malpractice errors including pharmaceutical errors, misdiagnosis, and surgical errors
- On-the-job accidents
What Kind of Damages Can Be Recovered When a Wrongful Death Occurs?
Compensation for damages in a wrongful death case depends on the economic situation of surviving family members, the predicted lifespan of the deceased, and how much liability the court assigns to the victim in regard to his or her death. Florida law outlines the type of damages that may be recovered, which include:
- medical expenses and funeral expenses
- emotional pain and suffering due to the loss
- the loss of companionship with the deceased, or in the case of a child, the loss of protection or guidance
- the loss of physical service or support provided by the deceased to a dependent
In some situation, the victim’s estate may also recover damages, such as:
- lost wages and benefits, including future wages that the victim would have made
- “prospective net accumulations,” which is the future value of earnings that estate lost because of the victim’s death
- Any medical and funeral expenses paid by the estate
How Can Those Liable for Wrongful Death Avoid Responsibility?
Those liable in a wrongful death claim will often do everything possible to avoid responsibility for damages. In multi-party suits, the defendants will often pass the buck back-and-forth to each other. Expect the defense to blame the deceased to reduce their liability. The Florida Wrongful Death Act states that you can file a suit when you lose a loved one from negligence, but Florida is also a “pure comparative negligence” state, which may affect the amount of damages you can recover.
In a pure comparative negligence state, after the court finds the defendant negligent, they may also assign a percentage of blame to each party. If the court finds that the deceased was partly to blame for his or her own death, awarded damages will be reduced by that percentage. For example, if you are suing for $1,000,000, but the court says your loved one was 15% at fault, you will only receive $850,000. Here are some common strategies that the defense may use to avoid responsibility:
- In accidents involving a motorized vehicle of any kind, including a boat, the defense might claim that the deceased was under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication. They may also claim that the driver was fatigued or distracted.
- When work-related accidents occur, the victim’s employer might try to claim that he or she was doing their job improperly.
- When an accident occurs on another’s property, the defense might claim that the victim should have seen the hazard or was in a prohibited area.
- When a wrongful death occurs because of a specific issue with a consumer product, the defense may claim that the deceased wasn’t using the product as it was intended, or that they modified the product.
These counterclaims make it more difficult to cope with your loved one’s wrongful death, which is why you need to hire a wrongful death lawyer experienced in Florida wrongful death claims. A good attorney anticipates what the defense will argue and can prepare to fight accordingly, as well as guide you through the legal process. You can focus on dealing with your grief and pain, while your lawyer works to get you the best possible outcome for your situation.
How Much Does a Doral Wrongful Death Lawyer Cost?
Many personal injury law firms agree to represent clients in a wrongful death case on a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not pay any attorney’s fee up front; instead, your lawyer will recover attorney’s fees out of any settlement obtained or judgment that the court awards you.
If a loved one has died due to negligence, contact Sibley Dolman online, or call for a free consultation with our Doral associates at (305) 930-7688.
8400 NW 36th St Suite 450
Doral, FL 33166
What Our Clients Have to Say:
“My experience with this law firm has been extremely pleasant. After being involved in an accident where I was injured, I was able to seek treatment from the best doctors in the area. I was lucky to have a team that assisted in scheduling my appointments that worked around both my full time work schedule and my demanding grad school schedule. Even with a move out of state to New York, I was able to remain with this law firm and continue treatment in south Florida while remaining under the care of the doctors that I felt most comfortable with. Even though I suffered injuries and experienced difficulties in that aspect, the team here was able to make sure that I was able to continue work and stay on track with grad school all while I moved to a new state.”
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