A wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the survivors of a person killed by the negligent, reckless, or intentional behavior of another person.
While money cannot bring a loved one back, the Florida wrongful death act can hold the defendant liable and offer some comfort to their grieving family members.
Deciding to file a wrongful death lawsuit after the demise of a family member is a personal choice.
The "Florida Wrongful Death Act" states that if the worst has occurred and you lost a loved one as a result of an accident involving someone else's negligence, there are laws devised to assist the families in recovering financial compensation and support. More specifically, the "Right of Action" states that "when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person," the estate of the deceased can opt to file a lawsuit in civil court. Wrongful death lawsuits can arise out of many types of conduct, some of the most common being the following:
- car accidents
- pedestrian and bicycle accidents
- unsafe working conditions
- unsafe commercial and residential premises
- medical malpractice
- dangerous products
- child deaths, including accidental drowning and poisoning
- professional negligence or malpractice
The damages that can be recovered by the family members of the deceased include mental pain and suffering, loss of companionship and protection, loss of support and services, medical bills and expenses, lost earnings, and lost accumulation of value of the estate. Under the wrongful death statute in Florida, the financial compensation from a settlement or jury award will be distributed equally among the beneficiaries. If the adult beneficiaries come to an agreement on a plan for allocation, the court will usually honor that agreement.
The Statute of Limitations of Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuits
The statute of limitations establishes a time limit for when a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed. It varies from state to state, but in most cases, it is 2 years from the date of death, including in Florida. If the death was caused by medical malpractice, the time limit may not begin to run until you find out about the malpractice that caused the death. For instance, if you did not know until you got the autopsy report two months after the death that malpractice caused the death, the clock will not start running until that date.
If you postpone filing a lawsuit until after the statute of limitations has passed, your claim is time-barred and cannot go forward. Therefore, if you lost a loved one to the negligent behavior of another person or entity, you should take legal action immediately so as to not let the statute of limitations expire.
Working with an Experienced Florida Wrongful Death Attorney
In the regrettable event that you lost a family member due to the negligence of another party, the first thing you have to do is to contact a wrongful death attorney, as they are the only professionals who have the necessary experience, resources, and knowledge to provide you with the assistance you need to recover the damages you are entitled to. A reputable and experienced Florida wrongful death attorney can help alleviate some of the pressure of what you are going through by offering confident legal representation. Here are some of the ways a wrongful death attorney can help you with your case:
- offer an initial assessment of your case to determine the most effective course of action
- timely file all the necessary documents and paperwork required by the legal system
- thoroughly investigate your wrongful death lawsuit to gather evidence for your case
- determine how much compensation is reasonable for your wrongful death lawsuit
- negotiate with insurance companies for appropriate compensation
- participate in the trial proceedings if a settlement cannot be reached
Because the compensation you might receive could be worth millions of dollars, you need an experienced Florida attorney to help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights. Hiring a wrongful death lawyer will help you navigate the legal process and make sure you receive the compensation you and your family deserve. A wrongful death attorney has the experience to navigate the legal system and build a strong case. They understand the laws and regulations concerning wrongful death lawsuits and can help you understand your rights and options. Furthermore, they understand the legal limitations and can save you a lot of time and money by avoiding costly mistakes.
Last but not least, a Florida wrongful death attorney can help you deal with the insurance company and negotiate a reasonable settlement for your lawsuit. Insurance companies often try to lowball the claimants, but a skilled attorney can make sure that your rights are protected and that you obtain fair compensation. Moreover, if your case goes to trial, they will represent you in court and fight for your legal rights. They will present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and make legal arguments on your behalf.
Gathering Evidence to Prove a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
To win a wrongful death lawsuit, you need to prove the following elements of negligence:
- the defendant owed the deceased a duty of care
- the defendant breached the duty
- the breach of duty resulted in death
- you suffered damages due to the death
To prove all of these elements, you must gather and provide evidence and witness testimony to convince the judge or jury that a wrongful death occurred and that you experienced damages. A Florida wrongful death attorney can be of tremendous help in this respect, as they can tell you what evidence you need to provide for your wrongful death lawsuit to be successful. You will generally need several documents, records, and reports to help you prove the wrongful death, including:
- a death certificate, which shows the exact cause of death
- police reports related to the accident or investigation
- medical records with notations, test results, consultation records, evaluations, or prescriptions
- the autopsy report if you believe the wrongful death was due to medical malpractice
- evidence of a duty of care relationship between the deceased person and the negligent entity
- tax returns and financial records
- physical evidence, such as bloody clothing
- photos or videos
- witness statements
A copy of the medical records can help prove the information was falsified, removed, or changed subsequently. The autopsy report is the only way to prove malpractice through medical error, as it provides the results of a complete physical and toxicological exam. Photos and videos are especially compelling evidence. Make sure the date and time stamp appear on every file. Witness statements, including the name and contact information of anyone who saw the incident, are also helpful.
The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary Will Provide You with Quality Legal Assistance in Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you lost a family member as a consequence of the negligent or reckless behavior of another person or entity, we encourage you to contact The Law Office of Sean M. Cleary, as our attorney has over 20 years of professional experience in wrongful death cases. He will offer you the legal assistance you need to recover the damages you deserve. Headquartered in Miami, Florida, our law firm has the necessary resources to efficiently help you file your wrongful death lawsuit.