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Seeking A Wrongful Death Attorney in West Palm Beach For A Loved One?
When a wrongful death occurs and a life is lost because of someone’s recklessness, it is important to call a local West Palm Beach wrongful death lawyer. West Palm Beach personal injury attorney David Shiner has help surviving families with their wrongful death claim to recover full compensation for their loss. Surviving families often file wrongful death claims as a result of car accidents, medical malpractice, product defects, work or job site accidents, manslaughter or criminal activities.
The qualified wrongful death attorneys at Shiner Law Group are available for a free Consultation by calling (561) 777-7700. We are committed to balancing the scale of justice when a victim’s family is grieving for their loss because surviving family members are often confronted with mounting medical bills, loss of income or support, and a vast array of legal procedures, deadlines, and insurance company traps.
Table of Contents
2. How A West Palm Beach Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
3. Understanding the West Palm Beach Wrongful Death Claims Process
4. Initiating a Wrongful Death Claim in West Palm Beach
5. Types of West Palm Beach Wrongful Death Cases
6. Who is Allowed To File A Wrongful Death Claim in West Palm Beach
7. Seeking A Recovery For A Wrongful Death in West Palm Beach
8. Speaking with a West Palm Beach Wrongful Death Lawyer Near Me
Hardships of a Wrongful Death in West Palm Beach
The emotional and financial hardships ensuing from the unexpected and premature loss of a loved one, particularly if his/her death was caused by the careless negligence of another, can be devastating.
At the Shiner Law Group, we are committed to balancing the scale of justice when a victim’s family is grieving for their loss, because surviving family members are often confronted with mounting medical bills, loss of income or support, and a vast array of legal procedures, deadlines, and insurance company traps.
The statute of limitations for a wrongful death case in Florida is two years, so it’s imperative to seek the legal counsel of an experienced West Palm Beach wrongful death attorney who can guide you through the logistical hurdles and get you the financial compensation you are entitled to under Florida law.
How A West Palm Beach Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
The process of pursuing a wrongful death claim to replace household income might be essential to maintaining a family’s standard of living. Our seasoned legal team will fight to protect your interests while taking on insurance companies seeking to deny damage claims or minimize their financial liability.
We are committed to the highest standards of legal ethics, so we focus on helping you obtain a broad range of damages, such as medical and funeral expenses, loss of income and retirement benefits, loss of services, loss of parental companionship, and punitive damages. We want you to focus on getting your life back.
The Shiner Law Group has represented wrongful death victims and their surviving family members in the West Palm Beach community for decades, recovering millions of dollars, and has developed the legal acumen to litigate across the full spectrum of wrongful death claims arising from incidents of negligence.
Our experienced wrongful death attorneys are prepared to assist in the following ways:
- Investigate the claim
- Navigate the dogged tactics employed by insurance companies
- Consult a network of experts in relevant fields
- Engage in effective client communication
- Estimate the value of the claim
- Determine the appropriate defendants
Understanding the West Palm Beach Wrongful Death Claims Process
Much of the legal proceedings involved in a wrongful death lawsuit occur outside of the courtroom, where extensive documentation is meticulously researched and crafted to include the critical elements that determine whether a lawsuit is dismissed or significantly weakened.
Understanding the pre-trial process in a wrongful death lawsuit can ultimately benefit the claimant as most cases are resolved through negotiated settlements before trial.
There are several stages to the claims process:
- Pre-trial investigation and research
- Legal research
- Pre-lawsuit negotiations with insurance companies
- Wrongful death lawsuit commencement
- Discovery process, including requests for admission, interrogatories, depositions, and requests for production of documents
- Handling motions for summary judgement
- Trial preparation
Initiating a Wrongful Death Claim in West Palm Beach
Under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, there are two types of plaintiffs who can commence a wrongful death lawsuit: (1) the descendant’s estate and (2) his/her surviving family members.
While a plaintiff can be entitled to recover both as a beneficiary of the estate and a survivor, the types and amount of compensation available to survivors are usually much more significant than damages recoverable by the descendant’s estate. Survivor benefits essentially compensate the designated family members for their personal losses suffered because of the death of a loved one. The categories of damages that might be sought by survivors include, but are not limited to:
- Mental pain and suffering
- Lost protection and support
- Lost services and support
- Child’s loss of guidance, instruction, and companionship
- Medical bills, funeral costs, and burial expenses (if paid for by a survivor)
Types of West Palm Beach Wrongful Death Cases
The untimely death of a loved one can be a difficult time for anyone. That being said, if the death was the direct result of the negligence or recklessness of another person, then the surviving members of the family owe it to the victim to file a wrongful death claim.
When it comes to wrongful death claims and lawsuits, many people are unaware of what it is, or how they can benefit from making a wrongful death claim with the help of a good wrongful death lawyer. Here, we are going to take a look at the different types of wrongful death cases and how you can make for a wrongful death claim.
Car Accident Deaths
Roadside accidents, and more specifically, traffic collisions are one of the most common types of fatal accidents that can result in a wrongful death claim. This is partly due to the fact that there’s a large amount of people who own and drive cars.
In 2016 alone, there were more than 37,000 auto accident deaths in the US according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Most of the fatal car accidents occur due to drunk driving, distracted driving, speeding, or road damage.
Commercial Truck Accident Deaths
While the accidents of commercial trucks are considered auto accidents, they are different as compared to accidents with passenger vehicles. For one, commercial vehicles are larger and heavier. Due to their scale and function of the commercial trucks, there are several factors that need to be taken into consideration by a wrongful death lawyer while making a case for a wrongful death claim.
Some of the factors that need to be considered include, driver error, driving under the influence, improper maintenance of the vehicle, mechanical failures, transporting oversized loads. Hiring an experienced wrongful death lawyer can assess the circumstances of your loved one’s death to find out if it was caused by the negligence or recklessness of the driver of the commercial vehicle.
Pedestrian and Motorcycle Accident Deaths
Pedestrians and motorcyclists are more likely to get killed in a vehicle accident due to the lack of protection in case of a collision. Thousands of pedestrians and motorcyclists, including bicyclists die each year in accidents that are the result of a driver’s negligence.
Medical Malpractice Deaths
Although healthcare specialists in the medical industry are supposed to be highly trained, fatal errors do occur in the form of lack of informed consent, defective medical apparatus, surgical errors, delayed treatment, surgical errors and birth injuries. Hiring an experienced wrongful death lawyer can guide you through the process of proving that a hospital’s safety protocols were not followed which resulted in your loved one’s death.
Defective Product Deaths
Defective products are those that are inherently defective or sub-par and therefore dangerous to use. Such products include, defective prescription drugs, children’s products, packaged foods, and defective vehicles and their components. Since manufacturers have a duty to ensure the best quality control standards are met during the manufacturing process, a wrongful death claim can be made against a manufacturer due to a defective or malfunctioned product.
Certain occupations are more dangerous than others. In such high-risk working environments accidents are bound to occur, which more often than not, results in a fatality. According to OSHA, the most common work-related accidents that results in fatalities are falls, getting struck by an object, and being electrocuted. Again, having an experienced wrongful death lawyer by your side can help you claim appropriate compensation.
Who is Allowed To File A Wrongful Death Claim in West Palm Beach
As troubling as the idea of dealing with a wrongful death may be, a crucial truth that never ceases to apply regardless of the circumstances involved is that knowing the legalities goes a long way.
While Florida’s law may have significantly evolved over the years, the significance that is placed on dealing with such cases accordingly still remains as high as ever. Despite the difficulties that such circumstances bring about right from the get-go, every bereaved family must ensure that justice is served, especially when it comes to filing wrongful death claims.
Wrongful death explained
According to the Florida Wrongful Death Act, the term mentioned above is legally defined as the death of a person attributed to the wrongful acts or negligence of another involved party.
Typically, the scope of such cases may encompass the nature of various deaths relating to car accidents, botched medical procedures, or work-related accidents. However, know that any demise that is caused by the failure of someone to act according to their duty or obligation is also seen by the court as wrongful death in this legal concept.
In comparison with other states, Florida law upholds its directives with respect to filing as it only allows a case and claim to be brought if the victim would be eligible to sue for damages had they survived.
A vital factor to consider
Whether a demise was caused by a botched medical procedure, a road accident where a driver was under the influence, or a freak accident that happened at work, any claim for wrongful death takes on similar factors. Among all the different factors that must be dealt with when handling this legal issue, there’s one question that tends to be asked more often: “Who can file a wrongful death claim in Florida?”
Answering the question at hand
As opposed to other American states, the concept of eligibility in bringing a wrongful death claim isn’t as straightforward when it comes to representation and selection in Florida’s law.
By legality, the state only permits the dictated representative of a deceased victim’s estate to bring a wrongful death claim to the court and seek damages in repatriation. Additionally, it is vital to note that anyone of the surviving members of a deceased’s family will be chosen for representation if a will has not been materialized before the death of a victim.
According to Florida’s legally-imposed limitations and rules as defined in the Wrongful Death Act, there are only a few specific surviving family members that may bring a claim for damages:
- Adoptive siblings or blood relatives that were dependent on the deceased victim
Seeking A Recovery For A Wrongful Death in West Palm Beach
Attorney David Shiner has represented wrongful death victims and their families in the West Palm Beach community for over 20 years, recovering millions of dollars and has developed the legal acumen to litigate across the full spectrum of wrongful death claims arising from incidents of negligence.
Speaking with a West Palm Beach Wrongful Death Lawyer Near Me
If you or someone you love has died because of the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another, we welcome you to contact our experienced legal team so that we can evaluate your claim and advise you of your rights and options. We are committed to helping victims recover the compensation they need to move past injuries or loss, so call us 24/7 at 561-777-7700 or online for a free case review to see how we can help.
Commonly Asked Questions Regarding Wrongful Death Claims
Whether you come to West Palm Beach as a visitor or you live in the city year-round, you know there is no shortage of things to see and do in the region. However, all of these sources of entertainment and activity—along with all the roadways to get to the venues where these activities are held—pose the risk of injury or even death.
In Florida, unintentional injury is the third leading cause of death. While an unintentional injury refers to an injury in which the person responsible did not intend to cause harm, it does not erase liability.
If your loved one was killed in an accident or incident in West Palm Beach, an experienced wrongful death attorney from Shiner Law Group can explain to you the process of obtaining compensation for the expenses and impacts to your life that you have experienced because of your loss. Our managing partner, David Shiner, has spent his career helping families to obtain the compensation they need to move forward.
Listed below are the answers to some of the questions we hear most often from our West Palm Beach clients about filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
What is “wrongful death” and what type of accidents result in a wrongful death lawsuit?
Florida defines a wrongful death as one that a wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty caused. Essentially, if the death resulted from someone else’s careless, reckless, or even intentional actions and the deceased—had he or she survived—would have cause for a personal injury claim.
Types of situations in which wrongful death claims can arise include:
- Motor vehicle accidents, including those involving cars, trucks, rideshares, buses, commercial trucks, trains, aircraft, watercraft, motorcycles, pedestrians, or bicycles. Motor vehicle accidents result in more than 36,000 deaths a year in the U.S., including more than 3,000 each year on Florida roadway
- Premises liability, including slip and fall accidents, swimming pool accidents, elevator or escalator accidents, negligent security, or dog bites.
- Defective products, including dangerous medications or malfunctioning auto parts, appliances, or even dangerous children’s toys, cribs, or car seats.
- Acts of violence, such as assault, domestic violence, or child abuse.
Who can file a West Palm Beach wrongful death lawsuit?
In Florida, family members may not file a wrongful death lawsuit on their own. Instead, a personal representative of the estate—either named in the will or appointed by the court—must file the claim on behalf of the family’s survivors and the estate.
The individuals who can benefit from a wrongful death claim include:
- The deceased’s spouse.
- Surviving minor children, or adult children if there is not a surviving spouse.
- Other family members who relied on the deceased for support.
- The deceased’s estate.
What can I recover through a West Palm Beach wrongful death claim?
In the legal arena, the word “damages” refers to a payment made in compensation for harm. Florida’s Wrongful Death Act allows for the pursuit of damages that include:
- The value of lost support and services that were provided by the deceased to his or her family members.
- The spouse can recover loss of companionship and protection.
- Surviving children can recover lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance.
- Mental anguish experienced by the family members because of the death.
- Parents can recover damages related to the mental pain and suffering associated with the loss of a child.
- The deceased’s estate can recover the loss of earnings from the date of the deceased’s final injury to the date of his or her death.
- The estate can also recover the loss of net accumulations, including wages and benefits that the deceased would have earned if he or she had lived.
- Medical expenses for the treatment of the deceased’s final injury that a surviving family member or the estate paid directly.
- Funeral and burial or cremation services that a surviving family member or the estate paid directly.
How can I prove liability in a wrongful death claim?
To prove wrongful death, you must show:
- The at-fault party owed the decedent a duty of care. The duty of care refers to the actions a reasonable person would take in a given set of circumstances to protect others. This duty of care depends on the circumstances that led to your loved one’s death. For example, if your loved one died in a motor vehicle accident, the duty of care that was owed by other drivers on the roadway was to operate their motor vehicles safely and legally.
- There was a breach in the duty of care, which refers to the actions that the at-fault party took that violated the duty of care.
- This breach resulted in the accident, which injured your loved one. Those injuries ultimately resulted in death.
- The death of your loved one caused you to incur specific and quantifiable expenses and psychological impacts.
That’s a lot harder than it seems. You will want to call us to make sure you can prove those things to the satisfaction of a judge and jury.
My spouse died in a car accident. Can I file a wrongful death lawsuit, or is the PIP death benefit my only option?
The personal injury protection policy (PIP) of at least $10,000 that you needed to purchase to register your car in Florida will provide a death benefit of up to $5,000 for the survivors of an individual named on the policy, or riding as a policy-named person’s passenger, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. This is often the simplest option for obtaining compensation, as you file the claim with your own insurance company and do not need to prove liability. However, you may also pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim in addition to or instead of seeking the death benefit from your PIP.
I lost my spouse to violence, and the at-fault party was arrested. Can a wrongful death claim be filed on my behalf?
Without knowing all of the details in your case that could potentially affect your eligibility to receive compensation, generally you can file a wrongful death claim even if the defendant in your case was arrested, is incarcerated, and/or is currently going through the criminal process. A wrongful death claim is a civil action, which is completely different than a criminal investigation and conviction, even though both processes began with the same incident.
One of the important reasons to seek assistance from an experienced West Palm Beach wrongful death attorney is that there is often more than one source of liability. Other potential sources include the owner or manager of the property at which the violent act occurred for failing to provide adequate security for guests, or even other individuals who heard threats of violence and had a duty to act.
More sources of liability often result in more insurance policies that can provide compensation.
How long do I have to file a wrongful death claim in West Palm Beach?
Claimants usually have two years after the date on which the death occurred to file a wrongful death claim. In some circumstances, this deadline may be different, including claims against governmental agencies. Your attorney will advise you if a different statute of limitations applies in your case.
Can I recover punitive damages in a West Palm Beach wrongful death claim?
Punitive damages refer to a payment that does not compensate you for the expenses and impacts you have experienced because of your loss, but rather to punish the defendant for particularly egregious behavior.
In some circumstances, yes, Florida courts allow the recovery of punitive damages in wrongful death cases. However, to receive these damages, you must show that the at-fault party was grossly negligent in the actions he or she took that resulted in your loved one’s death, to the level that it constituted a wanton disregard for life and the safety or rights of others.
What is a survival action?
Survival actions sometimes replace wrongful death claims in Florida. Survival actions are often a continuation of an attempt to obtain compensation between the time when the deceased became injured and when that injury resulted in death.
While the wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the expenses and the impacts of a loved one’s death, the survival action seeks compensation for the pain and suffering incurred by the deceased while he or she was still alive. The damages collected in a survival action go directly to the estate, rather than being portioned out to family members as the wrongful death award would be.
Is an autopsy necessary in a wrongful death case?
The results of an autopsy are not required to file a wrongful death claim. However, the autopsy can provide valuable evidence that your attorney needs to prove your case. When you speak to one of our West Palm Beach wrongful death attorneys about your case, please mention if an autopsy was performed.
Are there caps on the damages I can recover in a wrongful death action?
No, there are no caps on the damages you can recover through a wrongful death action. Previously, lawmakers tried to introduce caps on non-economic (pain and suffering) damages. However, the Florida Supreme Court found these caps unconstitutional as they arbitrarily limit the damages that the most severely affected individuals can recover.
How can Shiner Law Group help with my wrongful death case?
Our experienced legal team can help with your West Palm Beach wrongful death case by providing experience and guidance to ensure that you recover the maximum amount of compensation available to you.
- A free case evaluation, which is time for you to spend with one of our knowledgeable attorneys, obtaining answers to your legal questions and gaining an understanding of the options that are available in your case.
- A determination of all sources of liability and all insurance resources that can be accessed to provide compensation for you.
- A value to your case that is based on the expenses and the psychological impacts that the family members and the estate have incurred because of the loss. This includes calculating your loved one’s financial and psychological contributions to the family, as well as the amount in earnings and benefits that the deceased would have likely earned through the course of his or her career.
- Skilled negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance provider to garner a fair settlement offer for you.
- The timely filing of all court-required paperwork within the statute of limitations for your case.
- The collection and organization of witness testimony and evidence that can be used to prove your case. Sometimes, our legal team will turn to our network of expert witnesses for assistance, including medical professionals and accident reconstruction experts.
- Guidance as to the pros and cons of accepting or rejecting an offered settlement.
- Litigation, which involves preparing and delivering opening and closing arguments, creating displays for the effective presentation of evidence, and examining witnesses.
- Assistance collecting your wrongful death settlement or award.
Talk about your case with a dedicated West Palm Beach wrongful death attorney today. For your free consultation, contact Shiner Law Group online or by calling (561) 777-7700.
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