Laws are placed to induce organization and public safety, especially in face of the wrong and what is deemed to be evil. Unfortunately, accidents are inevitable. Wrongful death occurs due to the negligence or misconduct of an individual or an entity, leading to someone being killed.
Although death is mostly linked to criminal proceedings based on fatality, wrongful death lawsuits are mostly treated as civil cases. This separates its function to bestow criminal charges, allowing the offender to instead be charged according to laws and statutes. However, it’s important to note that the standard of proof is always lower in civil cases, as compared to criminal cases of manslaughter and murder.
Wrongful death occurs due to a myriad of reasons, which can include car accidents, manufacturing flaws, medical malpractice, and even criminal activity. States operate under respective wrongful death statutes, and Florida is no exception.
If you find yourself dealing with a wrongful death case in the stead of a loved one, bear in mind that Florida follows criteria and procedures that need to be studied carefully. To help you fully grasp how to pursue a case, as well as earn claims, the Florida lawyers of Shiner Law Group have created this primer for you to follow:
Table of Contents
Understanding a wrongful death claim
If your loved one has suffered from wrongful death, a claim will exist once the legal fault of the offender is determined. You have the right to file a lawsuit for wrongful death, but even that is a relatively new concept. Over the last century, however, state and federal courts now take wrongful death cases into action. Almost all states in America now operate under a statute, made specifically to cater to the loved ones of the person who died.
As previously mentioned, wrongful death claims involve a myriad of accidents, including motor vehicle accidents, product liability instances, and even medical malpractice. People proven of negligence and misconduct can be tried legally, either for failing to act responsibly and acting intentionally.
Who should be sued for a wrongful death case?
Wrongful deaths occur due to accidents, which can happen as a result of one’s negligence and miscalculations. For this reason, such lawsuits can be filed against a wide range of people, which can include companies, manufacturers, government agencies, and so forth.
Should a car accident occur in a faulty road, however, or caused by an intoxicated driver, the survivors may file an action against the driver, their company, the roadway designers, and even those who failed to provide adequate road hazard signs. Manufacturers and retailers of the vehicle can also be brought into the picture, as well as those who willingly gave the driver alcohol.
Golden tip: Determining who to sue can be a challenging task, one that will require a careful examination of facts, timeline, events, and specific circumstances. For this reason, most require the expertise of a wrongful death lawyer, particularly with years of experience. Bear in mind that companies can be difficult to battle, but professional attorneys will gladly come up with a defense strategy to ensure success – Shiner Law Group offers you only the best.
What type of damages can one gain from a wrongful death case?
The concept of damages can be incredibly complex, and wrongful death cases operate the same way. Damages that can be earned after winning such cases fall into two categories, which are then determined by the time periods. It’s important to remember that these categories are broad, and will need thorough understanding and research to fully grasp:
- First category: This pertains to the recovery of damages, which is dictated by the experience of the deceased from the moment of the negligent action, up until their death. Should medical malpractice occur, for instance, the time of the operation or diagnostic occurrence up until their eventual death will dictate the extent of damages. This can happen within hours, weeks, and even months after the incident, covering further medical expenses, physical pain, mental and emotional suffering, lost wages, and of course, the funeral and burial costs.
- Second category: This category pertains to the damages covering the losses experienced by the family members, all covering the timeline after their loved one’s untimely death. This is meant to compensate for the financial losses brought about by the death, all to cover the value of money the dead would have earned when alive. It should include the anticipated retirement benefits, along with their lost wages.
Note: In some states, specific claims called “loss of consortium” can be filed, which can be done by the spouse or other immediate family members. This is to compensate for the love and companionship lost after the death, especially if the parent dies and leaves minor children in need of guidance and support.
Who is allowed to sue for a wrongful death claim?
If you’re looking to file a wrongful death claim soon, understand that such cases can only be filed by a representative of the survivors, particularly those who are suffering from the same damages the person who has passed. Representatives can also serve as the executor of the will and estate, which can include the following people:
- Family members, particularly those of immediate family: This includes the spouse and their children, as well as adoptive parents and children.
- Putative spouses or life partners, including financially dependent individuals: This pertains to the deceased’s life partner or anyone who has been financially dependent on the victim.
- Distant relatives: Depending on the state, distant family members can also be allowed to file for a wrongful death case. This includes sisters, brothers, and even grandparents, especially if they live closely with the deceased.
- Those suffering financially as a result of the wrongful death: Should a person end up suffering financially due to the victim’s passing, they have the liberty to file for a claim, even without blood or marriage connections.
- Parents of a dead child, especially a fetus: In some states, a miscarriage can be deemed as wrongful death. Any emotional and financial losses after the death of the fetus will be held accountable under the law.
Who can be awarded damages after winning a wrongful death lawsuit?
Filing for a wrongful death lawsuit is one thing, but the process of awarding the damages is another matter. When it comes to determining the types of damages that can be claimed, the court will be compelled to study a variety of factors regarding the dead loved one’s life, especially their relationship with family members. More often than not, however, expect the following people to be granted the damages:
- The surviving spouse: They will usually be awarded for the loss of companionship, as well as emotional trauma borne out of the wrongful death.
- The children: This usually includes the minor children, which provides them with the damages needed to make up for the loss of comfort and support after a parent has passed.
- The parents: Should a minor child pass due to a wrongful act, the parents of the child will be able to recover damages for the lost relationship and emotional turmoil the death has caused.
- Other surviving family members: While this will depend entirely on the court’s orders, certain punitive damages can also be awarded to the surviving family members.
How can wrongful death be proven in the state of Florida?
Unlike criminal cases, wrongful death lawsuits can be less complicated to pursue. Family members who wish to file for cases need to prove three elements, which are as follows:
- Element #1: The duty of care, which the plaintiff needs to prove. The accused should have had a duty of care to the victim, as a reasonable person. Drivers, for instance, hold the responsibility of following traffic rules, which includes driving with care.
- Element #2: The breach of duty of care, which follows after proving that a duty of care indeed exists. The accused driver can then be proven to have been driving under the influence, thereby resulting in the accident. As a result, a breach of duty of care has been committed.
- Element #3: Causation, which pertains to the direct result of the breach of duty of care to the wrongful death of their loved one. Bear in mind that even if the driver has been driving under the influence, the party must prove that their loved one has been killed due to that simple fact only – and not as a cause of a faulty road or a malfunctioning part of the vehicle.
Should You Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit can be complex and technical, but nothing can mask the grief and pain of losing a loved one. It’s one of the most difficult things a person can go through in life, be it a known or unexpected death. If the death has been brought about by negligence, however, loss and grief can be magnified tenfold—making it completely unbearable.
In an effort to ease the pain, family members decide to take legal action to get the justice their deceased loved ones deserve. Pursuing a wrongful death case, however, can be exhausting. Thankfully, experienced wrongful death attorneys are more than capable of helping you through tumultuous times. Here’s why you may need to hire one:
1 – You’ll get unparalleled support
Going through a death of a loved one can be extremely difficult to fathom. Expecting to function well and logically can seem almost impossible, but with the help of an experienced attorney, you’ll be given guidance and ample support. They’ll help you plan and build a strategic case, one that will result in the most favorable results.
With their support and guidance, you’ll be able to focus on what’s necessary – grief, mourning, loss, and in time, healing. As you grieve and heal, allow your trustworthy attorney to handle what needs to be done.
2 – You’ll save on costs
Although easier to pursue than criminal cases, keep in mind that wrongful death cases take a long time to process. This can take longer when you’re on your own, left to digest legal jargon. The legal process and system itself can be difficult to decipher, and winning will almost always be impossible without an experienced attorney.
With a wrongful death attorney by your side, however, you’ll have an inside look at the entire process. They’ll understand how long the process will take, as well as the proper way to handle certain matters. Concerns such as settlements will likely appear, but talking to your attorney will shed light on the possible repercussions of decisions. They’ll also have an in-depth experience of all the elements needed to build a strong case. As a result, you’ll be able to focus on your family and yourself, all the while ensuring that you not only save on costs but gain value for money.
3 – They’ll help you estimate your claim’s value
A significant part of your lawsuit should be your claims. Nothing can compensate for the loss of your loved one, but the gaping hole they have left will have affected your life in profound ways—which includes your financial stability. With the help of an experienced wrongful death lawyer, you’ll be able to gain access to the right claim values, not just estimates.
Your chosen lawyer will provide you with a detailed list of the situation, along with the impact of the wrongful death of your loved one. This document allows the court to value the claims properly, covering any medical expenses you have procured, pain and suffering, funeral and burial costs, and of course, your pain and suffering.
You Deserve Justice – Work With Florida’s Best Law Firm
Wrongful death can be painful to bear, especially since you survive at the knowledge that things could have been prevented. Losing someone due to another person’s negligence should rightfully be a cause of your anger, but make sure to seek the justice your loved one deserves.
For the best Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer, Shiner Law Group has you covered. We offer you skilled and passionate professionals, dedicated to helping you achieve claims and damages, as well as the peace your family deserves. Book a consultation today.