Coping with the loss of a loved one is difficult, especially if another party's negligence caused the death. While no amount of money will bring back your family member, those who are at fault need to be held accountable. In these circumstances, you may have the right to file a wrongful death claim and seek the compensation you and your family deserve. Florida has a two-year statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death suit under Florida Statutes § 95.11(4)(d), so it is imperative that you contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Discuss your case with one of the compassionate, knowledgeable Boca Raton wrongful death attorneys at Dolman Law Group in Boca Raton by calling 561-220-4963 for a free consultation.
What Is Wrongful Death?
According to Florida law (Florida Statutes § 768.19), a wrongful death occurs “when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters.” The law also states that the victim must have been able to recover damages if they had not died.
Florida law states that only certain family members may file a wrongful death suit:
- The victim's spouse, children, or parents
- A blood relative or sibling that has been adopted who was partially or wholly dependent on the victim
- Children born to unmarried parents may recover damages if their mother dies. In the event that the father dies, he must have formally acknowledged his child and was required to pay child support.
Who Can Be at Fault for Wrongful Death?
A wide variety of scenarios may give rise to a wrongful death case. Here are some common examples:
- Traffic accidents where the other driver was reckless or under the influence
- Dangerous conditions in nursing homes because of negligence such as choking, malnutrition, and broken bones
- Work-related accidents, such as an accident on a construction site
- Pharmaceutical errors, surgical errors, and other types of medical malpractice
When dealing with a wrongful death claim, it is important to remember that there can actually be several parties that contributed negligence to the accident that took a loved one's life. With more parties that are liable for the damages you have suffered, the greater the chance that your settlement will be able to fully cover those damages.
With the right attorney, you can determine who exactly is liable for your loved one's wrongful death, and you can seek the compensation that you not only need but deserve after having to go through such a loss.
What Kind of Damages Might be Recovered when a Wrongful Death Occurs?
A wrongful death suit is a civil claim that is filed by the victim's estate or surviving family members, as opposed to a criminal case that may be brought to court by the government. Compensation for damages is only awarded in civil cases, not criminal cases, and relies on several factors, such as the financial need of surviving dependents, the anticipated lifespan of the victim, and the extent to which the victim may be at fault for his or her own death.
Florida law governs the types of damages that surviving family members may receive. This can include compensation for:
- Service or support that the deceased provided to a surviving family member
- The loss of companionship, protection, and/or guidance that was provided by the deceased
- Psychological pain, grief, and suffering due to the loss of a child
- Medical and funeral expenses paid by a surviving family member
The court may also award the victim's estate some types of damages, including compensation for:
- Lost wages, benefits, and other earnings. This also includes future wages that the victim would have made
- The value of earnings that the estate could have had if the victim lived, also called “prospective net accumulations”
- Medical and funeral expenses that estate paid
In What Ways Will Those Liable Try to Get Out of Paying Their Fair Share?
When there is a wrongful death claim, those who are liable will try every way they can to avoid paying their fair share. They will often blame others and the victim to remove liability. Although the Florida Wrongful Death Act gives you the right to sue when you lose a loved one, Florida is a pure comparative negligence state.
This means that when the case goes to court and if the court finds in your favor, the amount of damages that you receive may be reduced if the liable party proves that the victim was partly to blame. For example, if you are suing for damages of $1,000, but the court says that the deceased was 20 percent at fault for their death, you will only receive $800. Here are some examples that the defense may use to avoid some or all liability:
- In driving accidents, the defense may claim the victim was inattentive or under the influence.
- In work-related accidents, the victim's employer may claim that the victim was not doing their job correctly.
- If the victim died from a dangerous slip-and-fall, the property owner may say the hazard was obvious to the victim or the victim was in an area they shouldn't have been.
A Lawyer Can Help You Deal with Complex Wrongful Death Actions
You may want to hire an attorney to guide you through the legal process and deal with these counterclaims, so you can focus on finding a way to move on with your life without your loved one. A wrongful death lawyer from our firm will make a strong liability case and fight to get you the most money for a settlement that is possible.
When you work with our Boca Raton wrongful death attorney, you will be able to focus on yourself and your family during this time. We will take care of your entire case and manage all aspects of it, taking the stress and strain off you. For example, we will:
- Gather evidence to establish what happened (e.g., police reports, medical records)
- Identify liable parties responsible for your loved one's fatal injuries
- Evaluate your damages and assign value to them
- Communicate with the liable party's insurance company or legal representative
- Negotiate for a wrongful death settlement
- File your wrongful death action on time and in compliance with Florida Statutes § 95.11(4)(d)
- Go to trial to fight for your recovery if necessary
We will explain how Florida's wrongful death laws apply to your case and keep you up to date on all case developments. You will have a realistic timeline of what to expect as we manage your case, taking a lot of the guesswork out of the process.
Proving Wrongful Death
We must prove your loved one's wrongful death occurred because of the defendant's carelessness or recklessness. To do this, we must show that the situation contains the four elements of negligence, which are:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty of care
The basis of our argument must show how the defendant's actions or inactions caused or contributed to your loved one's death. Below, we will share how each element plays a role when making your case.
- The defendant owed your loved one a duty of care: We must show that the defendant had a legal duty to watch out for your loved one and keep them safe from harm. For example, everyone on the road has a duty to drive safely and avoid traffic accidents and other issues.
- The defendant did not uphold their duty of care: When this happens, it is called a breach. If a defendant drives recklessly by operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, this is a breach of duty to keep others safe on the road.
- The defendant's actions or inactions caused harm in some way: We must prove how the defendant's breach of duty caused harm, such as an accident, that led to your loved one's fatal injuries. For example, if a driver doesn't stop at a red light, striking another motorist or a pedestrian, their decision to run the red light can be said to have caused the accident that fatally injured the motorist or pedestrian.
- The decedent suffered fatal injuries because of the harm the defendant caused: As mentioned earlier, wrongful death damages can be awarded if the victim would have been able to demand compensation for their injuries had they survived. Instead, a personal representative can seek damages on behalf of the decedent's family from the liable party.
How Much Will a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost Me?
Most law firms offer a free consultation in which an attorney will hear the facts of your wrongful death claim and evaluate its viability. If a lawyer takes your case, you will be charged by the hour for their expertise. Often, we handle cases for a contingent fee. This means that you pay nothing up front. Instead, your lawyer will recover the fees out of any settlement that the court awards you.
This payment arrangement allows us to start on your case as soon as possible with no risk to you. We want everyone to be able to access the legal services they need, and the contingency arrangement allows this to happen. If you have questions or concerns about attorney's fees, we'll be glad to review them with you during your free consultation.
Call Us for a Free Consultation
If someone you love has died due to negligence, call one of the skilled attorneys at Dolman Law Group in Boca Raton for a free consultation at 561-220-4963 or write to us using our online contact form.
This is a difficult time for your family; don't fight alone. Dolman Law Group's wrongful death lawyers understand the best course of action in these cases and can prescribe best practices for investigations. Let us handle witnesses and police reports to determine whether you are eligible for compensation.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
301 Yamato Road, Suite 1240
Boca Raton, Florida 33431
What Our Clients Have to Say:
“Chad Robinson always responded immediately whenever I had questions or concerns. He worked hard to make sure I received what I deserved.”
Rating: 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Read more reviews on Google!