Losing a loved one is extremely painful and difficult for families and friends to accept—especially when that loss is directly attributable to someone else’s negligence. In Florida, a “wrongful death” refers to a death caused by another’s wrongful act, negligence, omission, or default.
Before filing a wrongful death claim under Florida law, an estate must be opened on behalf of the deceased. A personal representative must then be appointed to administer the estate. A claim or lawsuit must then be filed on behalf of the estate—usually against the at-fault person or entity who brought about the deceased’s untimely death. A Florida wrongful death claim or lawsuit may ordinarily be filed on behalf of the deceased’s husband, wife, child, parent, or sibling.
If someone you love was killed as a result of another person’s negligence or intentional act, you may be entitled to monetary compensation under the law. Since the deceased is not available to testify about the underlying accident at a deposition or trial, wrongful death cases can sometimes be difficult to prove. The knowledgeable and compassionate Florida wrongful death attorneys at Dolman Law Group may represent you by filing a claim or lawsuit on behalf of the deceased’s estate—and, if necessary, litigating the case through the Florida court system.
Bases for Florida Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful deaths may come about from many circumstances in Florida. The most common bases for Florida wrongful death claims include motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, negligent supervision, defective medical devices, and defective drugs.
Due to the many high-speed roadways and highways in Florida, motor vehicle accidents are unfortunately all too common. A motor vehicle accident may serve as the basis for a wrongful death claim when one driver is killed as a direct result of the other driver’s negligence. Most of these cases involve drunk driving, speeding, distracted driving, or reckless driving.
Florida’s Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations ensures that claims and lawsuits are filed in timely manners. If cases languish for too long, evidence becomes stale and potential trial witnesses may become unavailable for various reasons. Imposing time deadlines for filing suit allows trial evidence to remain fresh—and for the timely resolution ofcases.
Under Florida law, the statute of limitations in a wrongful death case is ordinarily two years from the date of the deceased’s death. In most cases, absent some limited circumstances, this is a hard-and-fast deadline. In other words, if a wrongful death claim or lawsuit is not filed within the applicable time period, the estate may be forever barred from filing a claim or lawsuit—or from seeking monetary recovery—at any point in the future.
Since time may be of the essence in a wrongful death case, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate should not delay in taking legal action. The knowledgeable Florida wrongful death attorneys at Dolman Law Group can file any wrongful death claims or lawsuits in timely manners.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida
If you decided to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased’s estate, a Florida wrongful death attorney can assist with proving all of the legal elements of the claim, including:
- Duty of care – The first step to proving negligence in a Florida wrongful death action is to show that the at-fault party or parties owed the deceased a duty of care under the law. For example, in a motor vehicle accident, a defendant driver owes a plaintiff motorcyclist (not to mention all other drivers who operate their vehicles on the roadways) an affirmative duty to drive in a reasonably careful and prudent manner. This means that the driver has a duty to operate a vehicle in the same way as a “reasonable” driver acting under the same or similar circumstances.
- Breach of the applicable duty of care – To prove negligence, the plaintiff must show that the defendant(s) violated the standard of care that was owed to the deceased under the circumstances. For example, in the case of a motor vehicle accident, if a driver ran a red light or stop sign and collided with a motorcyclist in the middle of a traffic intersection, thereby bringing about the deceased’s death, that act would likely constitute negligence on the part of the defendant driver.
- Cause – For the deceased’s estate to recover in a Florida wrongful death action, the estate must prove that the negligent acts of the defendant(s) caused the deceased’s death. In other words, the estate must show that the deceased’s death was foreseeable—and that it would not have occurred but for the defendant’s negligence.
- Damages – Damages in Florida wrongful death cases may be proven by a combination of lay and expert witness testimony. Available damages in Florida wrongful death cases consist of both economic and non-economic damages. The damages available to the deceased’s estate include medical costs and expenses, future lost wages (as a result of the deceased’s death and inability to work), conscious pain and suffering, and funeral expenses. In addition, family members can claim damages for the value of support and services provided by the deceased, emotional and mental pain and suffering, and more. A Florida wrongful death attorney may help you prove the nature and extent of the estate’s damages.
Contact a Florida Wrongful Death Attorney Today for a Free Initial Consultation and Case Evaluation
If one of your loved ones has died in an accident that was caused by someone else’s carelessness or negligence, you need a knowledgeable attorney on your side representing the deceased’s estate from beginning to end. The Florida wrongful death attorneys at Dolman Law Group may negotiate with the insurance company on behalf of the estate, and if necessary, litigate the case in court.
To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation with a Florida wrongful death attorney, please call us today at (727) 451-6900 or contact us online.