Wrongful death occurs when a person dies due to the recklessness or negligence of another party. Many different circumstances can lead to a fatal accident. Florida legislators passed the Wrongful Death Act to protect the rights of family members who lose a loved one in a preventable accident.
Surviving family members can seek justice, and Shiner Law Group can help with the process. Our firm knows the law and can help you determine the value of your claim and build a strong legal case. If you need help with an untimely death speak with our Port St Lucie wrongful death lawyer today.
Table of Contents
2. Examples of Wrongful Death Cases in Port St. Lucie
3. Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case in Port St. Lucie?
4. How to Win a Wrongful Death Claim
5. How Much Is a Wrongful Death Settlement Worth?
6. The Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in Port St. Lucie
7. How Can Our Port St. Lucie Wrongful Death Attorneys Help You?
8. Consult Shiner Law Group’s Port St. Lucie Wrongful Death Attorneys
Our Port St Lucie Wrongful Death Results
At Shiner Law Group, we take pride in our past success stories. For example, we held a restaurant responsible for a fatal accident and won $2 million in compensation. Our attorneys have successfully pursued claims about fatal car accidents and security negligence.
Reach out to us to learn if you have a valid claim.
Examples of Wrongful Death Cases in Port St. Lucie
A fatal accident constitutes one of the most common examples of wrongful death. Port St. Lucie has seen an increase in collisions in the roads and intersections in and around town. This high volume of cars increases the risk of an accident.
Distracted driving and speeding frequently can lead to cases of fatal vehicle crashes. Dark hours and harsh weather conditions constitute risk factors as well. Victims can suffer from severe injuries from side-impact or head-on collisions.
While many accidents involve two or more vehicles, some wrongful deaths stem from single-car accidents. A single-vehicle crash may involve a pedestrian. Wrongful death can come from an accident where a vehicle struck a fallen object from a truck, as well.
The city could bear responsibility if the road design led to the incident. An experienced attorney can help with understanding the wrongful death claims process if a loved one died in a car collision caused by someone else’s negligence.
Medical malpractice constitutes another instance of wrongful death if the malpractice leads to your loved one’s death. Medical malpractice comes in multiple forms. The doctor may have made a surgical error due to poor judgment, or a healthcare provider may have misdiagnosed a serious condition.
Mistakes with prescription medication often lead to a decline in health. A patient can suffer from incorrect treatment. Medical malpractice deaths frequently happen every year.
In general, negligence may prove more difficult to establish compared to other wrongful death cases. You would need to show how the healthcare worker made a mistake to succeed in your claim, and the mistake must have directly caused the accident that led to your injuries.
For example, in cases that involve design defects, the manufacturer should have noticed the design flaw or other harmful effects before introducing the product to the public.
Workplace accidents can happen on any job site. In general, certain careers involve a higher chance of injury if they involve strenuous labor. Employees can overexert themselves if they constantly lift, push, and carry heavy objects.
A fall from a high place can lead to a death in the workplace. A person could fall from the roof of a building or down a staircase. The area likely had an improper structure or insufficient security in place. Companies also have the responsibility to conduct regular maintenance.
Slips and falls can result in broken bones or more acute injuries. A person may have suffered a severe head injury after slipping. Another example may involve an employee who tripped over cords or scattered objects. The workplace needs to keep the floor clear and clean.
Spills and grease pose a hazard to many workers. While employees should wear non-slip shoes, managers need to make sure messes get cleaned up in a timely fashion.
Nursing Home Negligence
Nursing homes have to ensure the safety and well-being of their residents. However, a wrongful death case could arise from nursing home abuse or neglect. Nursing home neglect encompasses the disregard of physical needs, an unsafe environment, and emotional abuse.
Staff members may feel overworked if not enough people work at the facility. An employee may have to manage more residents in a single shift than recommended. A resident may have an acute medical condition, and that resident’s health could worsen if the person does not receive regular care.
Residents may develop a new illness or infection. A delay in medical treatment can lead to wrongful death. Staff members often don’t receive sufficient training, and they may make mistakes in medication dosages.
In many cases, nursing home residents suffer from malnutrition and dehydration. At Shiner Law Group, we can handle all types of nursing home negligence cases.
Defective products can include auto parts, and they can break down when a person drives on the road. The brakes or steering wheel may malfunction, causing the car to fatally collide with a person or object. Another example might involve the windshield wipers failing to work during heavy rain, causing a collision.
Household products can cause severe injuries, as well. Poorly made furniture could fatally collapse on someone, and tainted food products could impact a person’s health. Over-the-counter medications can potentially prove dangerous if manufacturers rushed clinical trials. Companies have strict liability if an accident occurs because of their products.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case in Port St. Lucie?
Each state has its laws on who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Florida, a personal representative can represent the decedent in a case. Personal representatives usually include individuals named in the decedent’s will, and they act on behalf of the estate and other living relatives.
The probate court will name a representative if no will exists. The court may choose a surviving family member. Eligible family members include a spouse, child, dependent blood relative, and parent.
If a court appointed you as the personal representative, you must list all potential beneficiaries when you file the claim. Beneficiaries can include a spouse, children, parent, and blood or adoptive relatives.
With children, minors tend to receive more reimbursement money than adults. You can work with a lawyer to go through the process of receiving compensation.
How to Win a Wrongful Death Claim
To prove negligence in a wrongful death lawsuit, plaintiffs must establish all four elements of negligence. First, the plaintiff must prove that a duty of care existed at the time of the accident. In medical malpractice cases, a duty of care exists if the victim hired the healthcare provider’s services. A company has a responsibility to provide a safe workplace to employees.
Next, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached the duty of care. A driver failing to stop at a red light would constitute a breach, as would a manufacturer cutting corners in the creation of a product. A plaintiff must next show that the defendant’s breach caused the accident that led to the plaintiff’s injuries. Finally, the plaintiff must prove that he or she suffered injuries and damages as a result of the accident.
Another factor beyond the at-fault party’s negligence could have contributed to the fatal accident. Plaintiffs must meet the burden of proof to win their case. The burden of proof falls under the greater weight of the evidence standard. The standard means the victim’s personal representative has to provide more persuasive evidence. While you can start a lawsuit on your own, a lawyer can gather evidence to ensure a successful case.
Under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, a decedent’s living family members and estate can recover damages. Non-economic damages include the loss of companionship, loss of support and services, and emotional pain and suffering.
Underage children can receive compensation for loss of guidance. Parents might obtain compensation if their minor child died in an accident. In most cases, parents of adult children do not qualify to pursue monetary damages.
Economic damages include medical expenses and funeral costs. The person’s estate can recover lost wages and benefits. In a few cases, the victim’s family may receive punitive damages.
Punitive damages apply if the defendant acted in a grossly negligent manner, which resulted in the wrongful death. The defendant needs to have behaved intentionally. A court may award punitive damages if the existing compensatory damages seem insufficient.
A judge typically awards punitive damages to punish the defendant further. However, courts do not award these damages often—only in rare circumstances.
How Much Is a Wrongful Death Settlement Worth?
Some people receive settlements worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and others may recover over a million dollars. The amount of money loved ones can receive in a wrongful death claim depends on multiple factors.
The insurance coverage and the liable party’s financial worth can influence the payable amount. A settlement may prove difficult to collect if the uninsured defendant cannot pay. Some eligible individuals may face limitations when they try to collect reimbursement.
The nature of the accident can impact the amount a beneficiary receives. For example, cases of a deceased adult could get a larger settlement compared to ones with children. While both types of cases bring emotional trauma, adult victims frequently have more of an economic loss. Settlements try to make up for the loss of income.
Other factors include the health of the individual and the needs of any surviving dependents. The future household services the victim would have provided also influence the settlement. Medical bills and funeral expenses get calculated easily. The victim’s future financial support that he or she would have provided also gets taken into account.
Non-economic damages prove more difficult to calculate. However, courts try their best to determine sufficient amounts. Sometimes, an insurance company tries to pay a low amount of money. You should not accept the insurer’s initial offer and consult a lawyer.
A Port St Lucie wrongful death attorney can determine the right amount of compensation to seek in your case based on your specific circumstances.
The Allocation of the Settlement
Once a settlement gets accepted, the personal representative distributes the money among the beneficiaries. The reimbursement gets split fairly and equitably. A dispute of distribution may arise, so representatives should seek court approval to avoid issues. Additionally, some payments may go toward the estate if liens exist.
Underage children should get an adequate amount to meet their needs until they become of age. Adults who depend financially on the decedent get priority, like minors. A portion of the money gets allocated to attorneys to pay for any fees.
You might receive a lump sum, but you could also get the settlement in a series of payments. The court may use a payment plan if the defendant has no insurance coverage.
If you received a settlement, you do not need to worry about any taxes on it. The money does not count as part of your income. In the event you receive punitive damages, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may tax this amount.
The IRS may also tax money awarded to the victim’s estate.
The Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in Port St. Lucie
Family members should focus on the after-effects of a fatal accident. Nevertheless, they should not let time pass by in the meantime. Like every state, Florida limits the amount of time you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The years can go by quickly, so you need to act as soon as possible.
You have two years after the date of the person’s death to bring a claim forward. You most likely will lose your right to seek compensation once the deadline passes. A lawyer can handle the paperwork and start the lawsuit before time runs out.
How Can Our Port St. Lucie Wrongful Death Attorneys Help You?
A complex wrongful death case can take time to complete. But our wrongful death attorneys can efficiently handle all of the legal proceedings to protect your rights and increase your chances of success.
Our law firm may use different strategies to prove the at-fault party’s culpability. Our wrongful death lawyers know how to value your claim properly and can negotiate with the other attorney for better compensation.
Consult Shiner Law Group’s Port St. Lucie Wrongful Death Attorneys
Shiner Law Group can handle your wrongful death case. Our attorneys have plenty of experience with settlement negotiations and court proceedings, so you can recover uninterrupted by the legal process. Our firm serves residents in Port St. Lucie and other areas throughout Florida.
You do not have to fight your case alone. If a loved one passed away at the fault of another person, contact Shiner Law Group today at (561) 777-7700. We can offer a free consultation at your earliest convenience.