When a loved one dies, it leaves behind a wake of grief and emotional devastation. In some cases, it can also lead to significant financial consequences. If your loved one died because someone was negligent, you might be able to seek compensation for your losses. With the help of a Hialeah wrongful death attorney, you can learn what it takes to file a claim and seek restitution.
What Is a Wrongful Death Case?
Each year in the United States, there are 200,955 unintentional injury deaths and 42,114 unintentional fall deaths. There are an additional 42,915 deaths from motor vehicle accidents. While many of these deaths are purely accidental, some can be considered wrongful death cases.
Legally, a wrongful death case is when someone dies because someone else was legally at fault. For instance, the individual may have been a part of a car accident. Medical malpractice and intentional crimes can also form the basis of a wrongful death case. The following incidents are examples of wrongful death cases.
- Workplace injuries
- Car accidents
- Defective products
- Criminal violence
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Bicycle crashes
- Personal injury accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
In a wrongful death case, the financial compensation from the defendant is known as the damages. If the decedent’s survivors win the case, they will be paid damages. This is a major difference between wrongful death cases and criminal cases. In addition, criminal cases require that someone’s guilt be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, liability has to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
You can ask your Hialeah wrongful death lawyer if you are eligible to file a wrongful death case. You can only file a claim if you meet certain requirements. In most states, your relationship with the victim must fall under one of the following classifications.
- Adoptive family.
- Immediate family members.
- Financial dependents.
- Distant family members.
- Parents of a deceased child.
- Partners and spouses.
In Florida, the rules are slightly different. To officially file the case, you must be the executor of the victim’s estate. As the executor, you can file on behalf of the estate and any surviving family members. When you file the claim, you must include all of the case’s potential beneficiaries.
You have exactly two years to file a claim from the moment the accident occurs. To win your case, you will have to prove negligence. Because proving negligence can be challenging, it is important to consult with a skilled personal injury attorney before you file your claim.
How Do I Prove Wrongful Death in Florida?
A study by John Hopkins University found that more than 250,000 people die each year from medical malpractice. Unfortunately, only a fraction of these cases will end up in court. To receive damages for wrongful death, you must be able to prove a few things.
First, you must prove to the court that the defendant was negligent. This negligence must have directly led to the death. Legally, the defendant must have owed the decedent a duty of care. This means that the defendant was obliged to follow certain rules or expectations.
In your suit, you must show that the defendant breached their duty of care. For example, you could prove that the defendant’s intoxication led to a surgical error. If the case involves a car accident, your lawyer may try to show that the defendant was speeding and not following applicable laws.
Other than showing that the defendant breached their duty of care, you must also demonstrate that the breach caused the death. Even though someone may have been drinking while performing surgery or speeding on the highway, these activities are not important unless they directly lead to the deceased’s death.
What Happens During a Wrongful Death Claim?
While each case differs, the general process is the same. Your Hialeah wrongful death attorney can discuss the steps involved and the type of evidence you will need to prove your case. Although there are some outliers, most wrongful death cases in Florida can be resolved within 18 to 36 months.
1. Get an Attorney
Before you can do anything else, you must talk to a skilled wrongful death attorney. The legal system is extremely complex, and it is difficult for the uninitiated to navigate the courtroom. While you can technically file a claim independently, you will most likely struggle to compile evidence and demonstrate your case in the courtroom. You should look for a lawyer with a track record of achieving successful outcomes in similar cases.
2. Build Your Evidence
Once you have figured out your legal representation, the next step is proving your case. You will most likely need police reports, witness statements, and other records. In some cases, your lawyer may use expert witnesses to analyze the facts of the case. If you do not already have this evidence, your attorney can help you determine how to obtain it.
3. File the Lawsuit
After your evidence has been gathered, your lawyer can officially file your claim. This claim may go to trial, but the other side may choose to settle the case instead. No matter what happens, you do not have to worry about personally filing the claim because it is your lawyer’s job to compile the appropriate paperwork.
4. Negotiate a Potential Settlement
Once the defendant learns about the lawsuit, they may decide to offer you a settlement. Organizations often do this to avoid bad publicity. In addition, the organization may decide that they can save money by settling outside of court.
If the defendant wants to settle, your attorney can arrange a meeting with the defendant and their lawyer. Then, they can try to negotiate a settlement to cover your damages. You can still take the case to court if the settlement talks are unsuccessful.
5. Go to Trial
When a settlement is not possible, the case will go to trial. In court, a jury will determine if the defendant is responsible for the wrongful death. If the jury decides the defendant is responsible, they will also get to determine the amount you should receive in damages.
Seeking Compensation For a Hialeah Wrongful Death Case
You only receive a financial award if the jury decides in your favor. Afterward, a portion of that award will be used to pay your legal team. Depending on the circumstances involved in the case, you may be eligible for some of the following costs.
- Mental anguish.
- Medical expenses.
- Funeral costs.
- Loss of companionship or parental support.
- The decedent’s lost wages.
There are two main types of compensation. First, you may receive damages covering the decedent’s costs from the moment of the negligent act to when the individual died. This means you could cover the decedent’s medical expenses and car repairs if they were in a car accident. If the decedent could not work after the accident, you could get compensation for their lost wages. Likewise, funeral expenses are a part of this category.
The second category of damages involves any losses incurred by the decedent’s loved ones. For instance, the individual’s spouse may receive damages to replace the wages the decedent would have earned if they had not died. Loved ones can receive lost wages that cover up until the decedent has retired.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Hialeah
Each type of legal case has a statute of limitations. This refers to the amount of time you can file a case. Once this time period ends, you will not be allowed to collect damages or file a suit. When it comes to wrongful death cases in Florida, you have two years to file the case after the individual has died.
Seeking a Hialeah Wrongful Death Attorney
While each case is different, there are a few things you should look for when hiring a wrongful death attorney. You should start by finding someone who has the qualifications you need. Because you will be spending a great deal of time together, you may also want to find someone who works well with your personality.
The most important qualification is experience. Your lawyer must have a strong legal education and a background in wrongful death cases. When you meet with your attorney, you should ask about the outcomes they have achieved in their previous cases.
You have just gone through one of the worst tragedies possible. If you decide to file this case, you will spend time talking about your loved one’s death. Because of this, you should find an attorney who is compassionate.
Depending on the case, it could take several years to reach a conclusion. You need someone who talks to you about each step of the process. Because legal deadlines are involved throughout the process, your lawyer must communicate promptly.
You will spend many hours working with your attorney. Ideally, you should have a good rapport with your lawyer. When you have your initial consultation, you should use it as an opportunity to evaluate the attorney’s demeanor.
Speak With A Hialeah Wrongful Death Lawyer Near You Today
If you have lost a loved one in a tragic accident, you may be able to seek damages for your losses. You can talk to a Hialeah wrongful death lawyer about your unique case. Your lawyer can help with some of the following activities.
- They can help you get drug and alcohol test results from the other party.
- A lawyer can collect medical records, insurance policy information, medical bills, and proof of the defendant’s injuries.
- They can review reports from the police about the accident.
- Your attorney can collect witness statements.
- An attorney can prove how the defendant caused your loved one’s death.
When you experience the loss of a loved one, it is difficult to think about anything other than your grief. Wrongful deaths are especially devastating. Instead of trying to navigate a wrongful death claim while you are in grief, you can talk to an attorney about your options. A skilled attorney can discuss the merits of your case and the best steps for your family. To learn more about your options, reach out for a free case evaluation today.