The loss of a loved one is often devastating. Your family may be struggling to make ends meet while living on a lower income and coping with grief. After losing a family member, the last thing you want to think about is involving lawyers or taking legal action. However, it's important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible because there are strict deadlines imposed by Florida law for bringing wrongful death lawsuits for the loss of loved ones.
Time is also a factor when comes to evidence preservation. This may be critical in proving liability where negligence caused an untimely death. As Sarasota wrongful death attorneys, Dolman Law Group is well versed in Florida wrongful death law. We are prepared to assist families in determining fault and the extent of other parties' liability for a fatal accident.
What Does Wrongful Death Mean and What Does It Involve?
When a person is injured and someone else is at fault, legal claims can be brought against the wrongdoer to try and compensate the injured person for their losses. If the injured person died as a result of the wrongdoer's acts—either negligent or intentional—it changes the nature of the legal claim that can be brought. A loved one's wrongful death can be caused by a number of different wrongful acts. Some of the most common scenarios involve the following:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian fatalities
- Boating accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home negligence
- Defective pharmaceutical drugs
- Dangerous medical devices
- On-the-job accidents
- Medication errors
- Intentional criminal actions
- Surgical errors
- Birth injuries
- Fatal brain injuries
- Traumatic spinal cord injuries
In these situations, a legal claim can often be made on behalf of the survivors or beneficiaries of the person who died. These claims are typically made by surviving family members or those who were financially dependent upon the decedent. Wrongful death claims are intended to try and compensate the surviving loved ones for medical expenses incurred prior to death, the loss of earnings of the decedent during their expected natural life, and loss of consortium or familial relationships.
Florida's Wrongful Death Act Helps Protect Sarasota Families
While the loss of a loved one or family member cannot ever be fully compensated, Florida's Wrongful Death Act (Florida Statutes Sections 768.16-768.26) is intended to help grieving families. This law shifts the losses resulting from wrongful death from the decedent to the parties responsible.
Statute 768.19 specifically states that “when a person's death is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default or breach of contract or warranty” of another, the estate of the deceased person may bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
In the past, legal claims for injured victims terminated at the time of the person's death. This was often an injustice for victims who died as a result of their injuries. In 1883, Florida legislators enacted a statute allowing lawsuits to recover for wrongful death when caused by the wrongful acts of another person, company, or entity. The statute has since progressed from allowing very limited recovery in narrow circumstances to allowing broader recovery in multiple circumstances.
Who Has a Statutory Right to Bring a Claim Under Florida's Wrongful Death Act
A Sarasota wrongful death attorney will also help you figure out who has a statutory right to bring a wrongful death claim and how to do so. This can vary depending on a number of factors, including:
- Whether it was a spouse or parent who passed away, and if so, whether that person had a surviving spouse but no children; a surviving spouse and children; or children but no surviving spouse.
- Whether it was a child that passed away, and if so, whether it was a minor child or an adult child; and whether that person left surviving parents, a surviving spouse, or surviving children.
- In the absence of a surviving parent or child, whether the person had surviving siblings, close relatives, or other interested parties.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits Are Filed on Behalf of the Deceased's Estate
Today, wrongful death claims are brought on behalf of statutory survivors named in the estate. Wrongful death actions are often brought by the personal representative of the estate. They may also be the executor or administrator.
A personal representative is a position designated by will or appointed by the probate court after certain requirements, like notice to all interested parties, are met. Proof of representation may be shown in certain documents like letters of testamentary, letters of administration, or letters for representation.
The requirements of probate can be complex—and involve considerations like whether or not there was a will or trust—so it is important to have an experienced Florida lawyer assist you in evaluating the specifics of your situation.
What Types of Damages Can Be Compensated in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
There are many considerations that impact what claims can be brought, the processes required to bring them, and what losses may be recovered. Under Florida's wrongful death law, the types of losses that can be compensated vary depending on the circumstances. Examples of the types of losses that may be recoverable include:
- Medical and funeral expenses
- Loss of companionship and protection
- Loss of parental companionship, instruction, and guidance
- Mental pain and suffering
- Loss of support and services from the date of injury to the date of death
- Future loss of support and services from the date of death
- Loss of earnings of the decedent from the date of injury to the date of death
- Loss of prospective net accumulations of an estate
An experienced wrongful death attorney can offer personalized legal advice that elevates the quality of your claim for damages. Dolman Law Group knows that no two wrongful death claims are exactly the same. We will work diligently to contextualize your loss to demonstrate the value of your loved one's services, support, and companionship.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Sarasota Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In wrongful death cases, the liability falls on the individual or individuals whose negligent actions caused the death. But there are others who can be held liable as well, including:
- The owner of the property where the death occurred or the owner of the vehicle that caused the accident, even if that individual was not driving the vehicle at the time of the accident.
- The staff of a company or facility if their negligent or reckless actions caused the death, along with owners and managers of the company or facility.
- Government officials, if the death was caused on government property and was due to the negligence of a government employee.
- The makers, manufacturers, or distributors of products that are unsafe, are mislabeled, or otherwise fail and lead to a person's death.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wrongful Death Claims in Sarasota, Florida
How is a wrongful death claim different from a criminal case?
The state may choose to pursue criminal charges against a negligent party if their actions constitute a crime. The consequences can range from fines to imprisonment. Criminal cases also require the prosecution, or the party bringing charges, to meet the higher burden of proof. The threshold for criminal cases is evidence that demonstrates guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Civil litigation for wrongful death lawsuits involves a dispute between private parties. The plaintiff is typically the personal representative for the deceased's estate, while the defendant is the party being accused of negligence resulting in wrongful death. If the plaintiff is successful in meeting the standard of a preponderance of the evidence, they may be awarded compensation.
Can I still recover compensation if my loved one was partially at fault in a wrongful death case?
In Florida, the principle of comparative fault applies to wrongful death cases. This means the judge or jury determines on a percentage basis everyone who was at fault for the accident. Multiple individuals or entities can be found liable for the accident, including the deceased individual for whom the case was filed.
Finding that at least some of the blame lies with the victim doesn't mean that others don't have liability and doesn't negate the need for the case. Depending on the circumstances, however, it does mean that the damages that are sought in the case may be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the deceased party.
Why should I hire a Sarasota wrongful death lawyer?
Wrongful death lawsuits have the potential to produce large settlements. When you account for years' worth of lost income, bills for medical treatment, and non-economic costs, your damages may be quite valuable. This means insurance companies will be highly motivated to reduce your settlement to minimize the impact on their profits.
A wrongful death lawyer will have the resources and legal knowledge to mount an effective claim against an insurance company. Obtaining legal representation also signals to powerful insurance companies that you are serious about negotiating for a fair settlement.
What does a wrongful death lawyer do?
First and foremost, it is a wrongful death attorney's job to protect your rights in negotiations and in court. To do so, they will need to demonstrate your damages are a result of the loss of your loved one. Additionally, they must connect the wrongful death in question to the negligent party's breach of duty.
Wrongful death lawyers offer a variety of other services. This can involve calculating the value of damages as well as analyzing and leveraging evidence to demonstrate liability. They can also alleviate the stress of managing paperwork and meeting critical deadlines.
Why Choose Dolman Law Group to Handle Your Sarasota Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If you're grieving the loss of a loved one after an act of negligence claimed their life, the last thing you need to be worried about is pursuing a complex wrongful death lawsuit all by yourself. When your family's financial future is on the line, it's time to seek out a respected wrongful death attorney to recover the damages you deserve to compensate for your losses.
Dolman Law Group has a proven record of settling wrongful death case results, including a recent wrongful death settlement for 6.7 million dollars. Our lawyers aren't afraid to take your wrongful death lawsuit to trial if negotiations with the insurance company stall because we believe that you shouldn't have to suffer financially due to someone else's negligent behavior.
At Dolman Law Group, we will treat you like a priority. We encourage you to review testimonials from former Dolman Law Group clients that speak to the character of our law firm. Your wrongful death lawsuit has the best chance of success if it is in the hands of the diligent, award-winning lawyers of Dolman Law Group.
Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Sarasota Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you have lost a loved one because of someone else's negligent actions, you may be wondering how to file a claim to recover the cost of medical bills, loss of companionship, and future loss of support and services. Dolman Law Group has built an outstanding reputation based on our ability to tackle complex claims and secure fair settlements. Our wrongful death lawyers won't pressure you to agree to an inadequate settlement just so we can close your case. We will work tirelessly in negotiations and in court to obtain the compensation your wrongful death lawsuit merits.
Dolman Law Group is composed of compassionate, dedicated advocates who will go above and beyond to meet your needs. Contact our Sarasota office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. You can reach us by phone at 866-458-3982 or through our website. We look forward to discussing how our comprehensive services can benefit you in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA - Sarasota Office