Orlando Wrongful Death Lawyer

We sincerely hope no family in the Orlando area will be forced to face the aftermath of the sudden and unexpected death of a family member. Disbelief can quickly turn to anger when we learn it is possible the death was caused by another’s negligence. With offices across the state, the legal team at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman stand ready to make sure no family has to face this catastrophe alone. When the numbness becomes confusion, you need the assistance of a personal injury attorney. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help when:

  • Your spouse, child, or parent’s life was cut short by someone’s negligence
  • The death was traumatic, violent, or mutilating
  • The cause of death was preventable
  • The family needs someone to be held responsible and accountable

When grief turns into fear and frustration, a legal advocate can help evaluate the economic impact of your loss and serve as a catalyst for fair financial compensation.  

Not All Legal Claims Are Created Equal

Personal injury is a complicated and multi-faceted area of the law and a “wrongful death” is, by and large, a serious accident caused by somebody’s carelessness, indifference, or oversight. When medical malpractice causes death it can lead to a wrongful death lawsuit; however, not all wrongful death cases emerge from medical malpractice. Similarly, although all personal injury claims involve a form of negligent, reckless. or intentional actions, a wrongful death suit is not the same as a personal injury lawsuit or a medical malpractice claim. The main differences between the types of claims are:

  • Who can legally initiate a claim
  • The possible types of compensation

 

Who Files the Claim

A personal injury claim is filed by the person who was harmed in an accident against whoever was responsible for the behavior that caused his or her injury. A wrongful death claim is filed by a representative of the deceased’s estate, on behalf of the qualified survivors of a victim whose death was a result of negligence, against those believed to be responsible.  

The Florida Wrongful Death Act

The Florida Wrongful Death Act restricts those survivors who can legally file a malpractice claim to:

  • Children under the age of 25
  • Adult children who are dependent on the deceased for financial support
  • A spouse
  • The parents of a child under the age of 25

Clearly, this law favors the hospitals, medical professionals and the insurance industry, and does not find favor with a family recovering from an unexpected loss.  

Eligible Claimants In a Wrongful Death Suit

Those persons who may recover financial compensation in a wrongful death claim are:

  • The surviving spouse
  • Children under the age of 25
  • Adult children if there is no surviving spouse
  • Each parent of a deceased child under the age of 25
  • The parents of an adult child when there are no other survivors

 

Grief Actually Hurts

Grief is a form of stress. Following the loss of a close family member, it is not uncommon to experience physical symptoms in the wake of overwhelming grief. When the immune system is taxed, the body responds with:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • A tight feeling in the chest
  • Intestinal and digestive distress
  • Nausea
  • Frequent colds and persistent respiratory infections

The physical stress of grieving can lead to an increase in adrenaline, causing:

  • An accelerated heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Involuntary shaking
  • Anxiety
  • Exhaustion
  • Depression

 

Compensation for Damages

Accident victims can seek to recover financial compensation for:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish

Qualified survivors initiating a wrongful death claim may seek compensation for:

  • Medical expenses incurred before death
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of parental guidance
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of financial support
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of services

In Florida, a wrongful death claim must be filed by a personal representative of the estate. If the deceased had a will, it is more than likely he or she named an executor to administer their final details. If no will is on file with the state, the courts will appoint an executor. Although a judge can assign this responsibility to anyone, typically this is the surviving spouse or closest heir. The contributory factors used in determining the amount of compensation include:

  • The personal relationship between each survivor and the deceased
  • The life expectancy of all claimants
  • The replacement value of the deceased services

A surviving spouse may recover:

  • Compensation for the loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection
  • Compensation for mental pain and suffering

Minor children (under age 25) may seek compensation for:

  • Lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance
  • Mental pain and suffering

Each parent of a deceased minor child (under age 25) may recover:

  • Compensation for pain and suffering

Additionally:

  • If there is no surviving spouse, each parent of an adult child may also recover compensation for mental pain and suffering
  • Each survivor may recover the value of lost support and services
  • Medical or funeral expenses may be recovered by the survivor who has paid them

Estimating the projected value of support services can be an arduous task, probate procedures can be complicated, and verifying claims made by creditors can be quite involved. The legal team at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman has extensive experience helping families in the Orlando area and across the state deal with the complex legal and financial issues of wrongful death. Call 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) for a no-cost case evaluation.  

Punitive Damages

When the death of a loved one is the result of intentional misconduct or extreme gross negligence, the courts may award punitive damages as a deterrent to the type of offending and damaging behavior. Under extreme and particularly egregious conditions, financial compensation in the form of punitive damages can be granted. Particularly in cases of product liability, often it is discovered the supplier or manufacturer was aware of the potential for injury but elected to sell or distribute, with little or no concern for future victims. Gross negligence is a deliberate disregard for the safety and welfare of others; it is conduct that is more than likely to cause harm to others.  

Death Caused by Another’s Negligent Conduct

Among the most common reasons for wrongful death are car accidents or truck or motorcycle collisions. There are, however, any number of circumstances that can lead to wrongful death, including:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Theme park accidents
  • Birth injuries
  • Nursing home abuse or neglect issues
  • Defective products
  • Assault and violent crimes
  • Negligence by a government entity
  • Accidental shooting
  • Medical malpractice
  • Recalled or dangerous vehicles
  • Work-related accidents
  • Pharmaceutical products

 

Staggering Statistics

Recent data shows some eye-opening statistics. According to a 2018 report issued by the National Safety Council, 40,000 people lost their lives on our roadways last year, and Florida’s number of fatalities increased by 5.8 percent over 2017. Nationally, the safety council estimates the total cost of motor vehicle deaths, injuries and property damage in 2018 as $412.8 billion. “Analyzing medical death rate data over an eight-year period, Johns Hopkins patient safety experts have calculated that more than 250,000 deaths per year are due to medical error in the U.S.” The CDC’s National 2017 Vital Statistics Report lists accidents as the third leading cause of death in the United States, and a recent report by NBC Miami stated that Florida was the third most deadly state to drive in, trailing only Texas and California.  

Limitations, Liabilities, and Litigation

Contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA or Sibley Dolman to schedule a complimentary consultation if you feel your loved one’s death was caused by another person’s negligence. Except in cases where a product liability issue arises, wrongful death requires proof of negligence to obtain compensation. With experienced litigators in Orlando, as well as in offices located from coast to coast across the state, we understand the importance of:

  • Establishing the defendant had a legal duty of care to prevent harm to the deceased
  • Proving the defendant failed to meet their duty of care
  • Showing how the defendant’s negligence ultimately caused the death

We cannot change the fact that a family was irrevocably altered by a potentially preventable accident, but we can help a grieving spouse, parent, or child obtain a measure of justice for the life of his or her loved one by ensuring economic loss is adequately assessed and quantified. Following the untimely loss of a loved one, there frequently is an unanticipated and unwanted change in the family dynamic, as survivors attempt to reorganize the family unit. When someone you love dies, putting the survivor’s affairs back in order is a mammoth task. The decedent’s estate can pursue economic losses that will ultimately be awarded to the heirs. If a wrongful death settlement is listed as an estate asset, it may be subject to valid creditor’s claims. This can be a particularly controversial area of the law and is often at the center of disagreements between creditors and family members. Adjusting to life without a close family member often means a change in the standard of living provided by the deceased’s earnings. Determining the extent of future economic losses is a complicated process and takes into account:

  • The age of the deceased
  • The deceased chosen profession
  • The educational background of the deceased
  • The percent of household budget the deceased contributed before his or her death
  • The relationship the deceased had with each claimant

At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, we have the resources necessary to pursue all avenues in securing both economic and non-economic damages. We have access to forensic accountants and financial experts who not only can prove the amount of money the deceased was actually providing to his or her family but also project the amount of financial support each claimant would have reasonably expected to receive from the deceased if not for the wrongful death. Some documentation used in these calculations may include:

  • Income tax returns
  • Social Security information
  • Pension data

If the estate includes a business owned by the deceased, in addition to tax records, the experts will take into account:

  • Corporate ledgers
  • Balance sheets
  • Statements of accounts payable and receivable

The two-year from the date of death statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is, in theory, a hard and fast rule, but is actually full of exceptions and exclusions such as:

  • Certain medical malpractice claims can often have a four-year window for filing a claim
  • Claims against government entities can have a four-year time limit
  • If the defendant passes away before the lawsuit settles, timely motions are necessary to change the claim to one against “the estate” of the original defendant

 

Call Us Today for Help Recovering From a Loved One’s Wrongful Death

Having access to experienced legal guidance can oftentimes give a grieving family the upper hand when dealing with insurance carriers. If the deceased had life insurance, either via a personal policy or as a part of a corporate package, an attorney can help untangle the red tape that will often go along with applying for a death benefit. Since 2009, our award-winning attorneys have gone that extra mile to ensure our clients receive the best possible settlement or award. We are skilled litigators and do not hesitate to challenge an entity or an insurance carrier in a courtroom setting. We are proud of our reputation, our collective awards, and the positive feedback we receive from satisfied clients. Whether your family is compensated by a negotiated settlement, or awarded damages by a jury, no one should have to stand alone. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), or you can write to us using our online contact page. https://www.dolmanlaw.com/orlando-personal-injury-attorney/