When a grieving family member walks in to my Clearwater Office I am immediately struck with sadness as well. There are so many emotions surrounding the accidental death of a loved one. The family is left with many pressing issues and questions. Oftentimes the feeling of anger is present, typically directed at the negligent party. It is usually wise to consult with a Wrongful Death Lawyer to become informed of the legal rights of a decedent’s estate.
Many Personal Injury attorneys advertise their experience in handling Wrongful Death cases but the intricacies are not widely known by the general public. Wrongful death exists when a life is taken as a result of negligence or a negligent act. The negligent act may be associated with:
- Automobile Accidents
- Semi-Truck Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Defective Product or Product Liability
- Medical Malpractice
- Slip and Falls
- Maritime Accidents
- Workplace Accidents
First and foremost, in order for a Wrongful Death Claim to be valid, an individual or entity must have caused the death of a victim. It is imperative for an investigation to commence as soon as possible to preserve evidence. This is necessary so that liability can be established in an effort to prove:
- a legal duty was owed to the plaintiff by the defendant
- such duty was breached
- an injury to the decedent was caused by the breach
The recovery from a Wrongful Death case includes compensation for the following:
- Punitive damages
- Expenses such as medical bills and funeral expense
- Loss of future wages
- Loss of companionship or consortium of the lost family member
- Loss of inheritance
- Pain and Suffering prior to death
It is important to review the Florida Law to understand that even if the decedent is partially responsible for the negligent act, they may still be entitled to a recovery. Read Florida Statute 768.81 – Comparative Fault (http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0768/0768.html)
EFFECT OF CONTRIBUTORY FAULT. — in a negligence action, contributory fault chargeable to the claimant diminishes proportionately the amount awarded as economic and noneconomic damages for an injury attributable to the claimant’s contributory fault, but does not bar recovery.
Another important component is that a family member must be left with financial hardship as a result of the negligent death. Of course an Estate must be created since a claim cannot be made for an individual that is deceased. The Estate itself is the entity that receives compensation for the Wrongful Death action since the decedent has departed. Reviewing the same statute referenced above F.S. 768.81, the verbiage describes what constitutes a viable “Survivor”. A “Survivor” is considered:
- The decedent’s spouse
And when partly or fully dependent upon the decedent for support services:
- Any blood relatives
- Adoptive brother or sister
- A child born out of wedlock to a mother
- A child born out of wedlock to a father only when the father has a recognized responsibility for support of the child
There are many complexities in a Wrongful Death action including dozens of provisions in Florida Statute limiting liability and defining damages and recovery. It certainly is important to consult with an experienced license Florida Attorney to determine if a valid claim exists and what steps must be taken to make a recovery. Please keep in mind, if you have suffered the loss of a loved one, there is a 2 year statute of limitations in the State of Florida for Wrongful Death Lawsuits. The Personal Injury and Civil Trial Firm, Dolman Law Group are accessible to clients throughout the state of Florida.
I can personally be reached at my office by calling 727-451-6900 or via email, email@example.com. Our Firm has the compassion to support the ailing family during tragic times and the resources to ensure the negligent party is held responsible. Dolman Law Group will stand up for the rights of those unable to fight on their own behalf due to an untimely death.