Choosing a Good Wrongful Death Attorney
The unexpected loss of a loved one is always shocking and involves a great deal of grief and sadness. When their death was caused by the irresponsible act by another person, it is perfectly normal to feel anger. Many people have difficulty coping with their emotions in the aftermath of unexpected loss. It is impossible to bring your loved one back. However, you may find some relief in holding the responsible party accountable for their actions.
In Florida, like many other states, family members of the decedent can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits may provide families with compensation from those responsible for your loved one’s death. Like other legal actions, pursuing a wrongful death claim involves complex legal issues. You may find it helpful to hire a wrongful death attorney, but how do you get started? Read on to learn more about wrongful death law from the experience of Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA.
Understanding Wrongful Death
The Florida Wrongful Death Act identifies a “wrongful” death as one resulting from another’s “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty.” To be successful, an attorney must establish specific facts to meet the Act’s definition of “wrongful” conduct. They must present evidence to show that the “wrongful” conduct caused death. Additionally, they must prove that had the person survived the incident, they would be entitled to file a personal injury claim.
For example, a fatal car accident caused by a drunk driver would meet the requirements of the Act. Each year, hundreds of drivers on Florida roadways lose their lives due to the carelessness of drunk drivers. That means, many families lost loved ones due to drunk driving accidents. We hope to offer some guidance on how to find an experienced and competent wrongful death attorney.
What Is a Wrongful Death Attorney?
A wrongful death attorney is generally an attorney who focuses their practice on plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits. Personal injury claims involve accidents that result in injuries. For instance, car accidents, slip and fall accidents, workplace accidents, and medical malpractice. If you suffer an injury due to the negligent or deliberate actions of another, you may be entitled to compensation. A personal injury attorney aims to identify the parties responsible for your injuries and hold them accountable.
Important Qualities of a Wrongful Death Attorney
When you are grieving the loss of a loved one, the idea of pursuing a lawsuit likely seems overwhelming. However, wrongful death actions operate to alleviate long-term financial stress resulting from your loved one’s death. A wrongful death lawyer can help you recover compensation related to your loss. You may be entitled to compensation for unpaid medical bills, funeral and burial costs, and loss of future financial support. The financial repercussions of your loss can be devastating to you and your family.
Hiring a lawyer who displays character, integrity, and compassion is important. Circumstances creating the need for a wrongful death lawyer are undoubtedly emotional. You need a trustworthy attorney that will ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. When hiring an attorney to represent your interests, there are additional qualities you should look for. At a minimum, attorneys should be professional, approachable, and available when you need questions answered. Often, attorneys with all of these qualities will demonstrate an impressive track record of success in delivering wrongful death settlements.
5 Steps to Finding a Wrongful Death Attorney
There are many tools to help you identify the right attorney to take on your case. Listed below are 5 ways you can easily identify if you have the right attorney for you.
- Step One: Friends and Family. Begin your search by asking friends and family if they have first-hand experience working with a personal injury attorney. To file a wrongful death suit, the decedent must have been entitled to file a personal injury claim had they survived. Therefore, many personal injury attorneys also have experience pursuing wrongful death actions. Claims involving a fatal car accident will likely benefit from a personal injury attorney with experience handling car accidents.
- Step Two: State bar association. The Florida Bar Association allows consumers to identify an attorney with experience handling a variety of cases. Each attorney’s profile will disclose any disciplinary actions or any complaints brought against them. The website provides a wealth of information to assist you when choosing an attorney.
- Step Three: Review attorney reviews. Perhaps one of the best resources is an attorney’s own website. Firm web pages will provide testimonials from past clients related to their personal experience working with the firm. The law requires posted reviews to be truthful and accurate. You can confidently rely on the information provided in reviews, making them an extremely helpful tool.
- Step Four: Review the attorney’s biography. Always review an attorney’s biography before you decide to hire them to advocate on our behalf. Attorney bios will include their education and legal experience, as well as personality traits and hobbies they enjoy. You can learn a lot about an attorney from their biography.
- Step Five: Interview the attorney. A face-to-face interview is the ultimate way to determine whether the lawyer will be a good fit for your family. Almost all attorneys offer a free consultation to discuss your case. You can ask any questions you may have and get a feel for how the attorney will handle your case. A consultation will help you make a better decision about how to proceed. You can get some preliminary questions answered and decide if the attorney will be someone you can work with.
6 Questions to Ask a Wrongful Death Attorney
When interviewing an attorney for your wrongful death claim, certain questions will ensure you make a well-informed decision. Some important questions include:
- What type of experience do you have with these types of cases? If your case involves a tractor-trailer collision, you need an attorney with experience handling tractor-trailer accident cases. An experienced attorney will understand the complexities of legal issues specific to tractor-trailers. For example, an understanding of state and federal laws pertaining to work hours, rules of the road, and employer liability. The specific circumstances of your case will determine the areas of expertise your lawyer should have.
- How many other cases will you be dealing with while handling my case? Many attorneys manage large caseloads. Handling too many cases at the same time, may hinder an attorney’s ability to give your case adequate attention. Be sure to ask about the complexity of the other cases as well. An attorney may only be handling two or three cases. However, extremely complex cases will require more attention than others.
- Should I opt to hire your firm, who will handle my case? Most personal injury law firms will have many people working on your case at various stages in the process. A paralegal may prepare documents, a junior attorney may file preliminary motions, and an investigator may handle witnesses for your case. Make sure you ask who will lead the case, who will answer questions, and who will represent you in court.
- What should I know about wrongful death claims in Florida? Every state has slightly different rules pertaining to wrongful death claims. For example, in Florida, medical malpractice cases can either be decided in court or through the arbitration process. Arbitration proceedings are different from court proceedings. Make sure you know which processes your attorney believes your claim will entail, as well as the differences between them.
- What fees should I expect to pay for your services? Most attorneys who handle personal injury cases, and by default wrongful death cases, work on a contingency fee basis. A contingency fee arrangement often involves withholding payment for some of the attorney’s fees until the matter is resolved in your favor. Be sure to ask about any court filing fees, expert witness costs, or other fees. Some fees may require payment despite the outcome of your case. Determine whether fees must be paid upfront or if they will be taken from a final judgment.
- What type of compensation can I reasonably expect from a wrongful death case? A wrongful death lawyer can explain what damages may be recovered with wrongful death claims. Generally, you may recover unpaid medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, and other direct costs associated with your loss. You may also be awarded non-monetary losses for your pain and suffering or loss of companionship.
What Everyone Needs to Know About Florida Wrongful Death Cases
Before you file a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida, you should ask:
- Who may file a wrongful death lawsuit? Florida statutes clearly state wrongful death lawsuits may only be filed by the representative of the estate of the decedent. The representative will either be named in the decedent’s will or appointed as the administrator by the court.
- Who must be notified of a wrongful death lawsuit? In addition to notifying the person who is being sued, all of the interested heirs of the decedent must be notified. Interested heirs include the decedent’s spouse, children, stepchildren, parents, and any party who was dependent upon the decedent for support.
- Time limits on filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida. The Florida statute of limitations allows individuals to file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date of death. However, as with most statutes, there are exceptions. For example, medical malpractice may not be discovered until the family is informed of the cause of death. In those cases, the two years period may begin a definitive cause of death reveals potential malpractice. The same is true in the event a person was a victim of murder. You cannot file a lawsuit until you identify who was responsible for the murder. Under these circumstances, the law may provide for an extension of the statute of limitations. The two-year period may begin at the point in time when you identify the responsible party.
Losing a loved one is traumatic. Understandably, you may feel that pursuing legal action will appear as if you are taking advantage of your loss to receive compensation. However, the Wrongful Death Act in Florida was specifically written to ensure that the decedent’s loved ones are financially taken care of. The financial burden of the loss of a loved one is shifted to the party responsible for the death. An individual who causes the death of another should be held accountable for their actions. Families should never have to accept the financial burden of this type of loss.
Obviously, no amount of money will ever make up for the loss of a loved one. When the loved one lost was the sole breadwinner in a family, your family is facing an uncertain financial future. A wrongful death lawsuit can help make your future more stable. A successful lawsuit can provide the resources you need to ensure your family can remain in your home. It can relieve you from concern about how you will pay your mortgage or rent.
Seek an Experienced Florida Wrongful Death Attorney
Every wrongful death case is different. It is important to understand that it is impossible to precisely predict the amount of compensation you may recover. In part, this is because you must take many factors into consideration. Some factors include the age of the decedent, their earning capacity had they lived, and the medical expenses before their death. No attorney can tell you in advance what the outcome of your case will be.
You must take the time to find a wrongful death attorney who can answer your questions realistically. One who can help you understand the various factors that may play a role in your specific case. Who can file or assist you in the processes of filing a wrongful death claim. Finding an attorney who will serve as a strong advocate for you can make all the difference. Should you have any questions pertaining to personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits, contact a personal injury attorney. To get started, schedule a free case consultation. An attorney can help answer your questions and help you determine the best way for you to move forward.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765