The loss of a loved one is tragic. Losing a loved one because of another person’s negligence can be even worse. The days and months following the loss of a loved one can feel overwhelming and challenging. You should not have to suffer the financial strain associated with their death.
If someone is responsible for the death of your loved one, they may owe you compensation. Take this time to grieve and heal and let this article serve as a starting point and guide to Florida wrongful death actions. For more information or help with a claim, contact our wrongful death attorney in Parrish, FL today.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit initiated by the survivors—or the estate—of a deceased individual. A wrongful death claim seeks compensation for losing your loved one due to someone else’s negligence or conduct.
Examples of accidents or conduct that often lead to wrongful death claims include:
- Car accidents,
- Motorcycle accidents,
- Car vs. pedestrian accidents,
- Commercial truck accidents,
- Medical malpractice,
- Defective products, and
- Premise liability claims.
If you recently lost a loved one due to one of these or a similar incident, it is best to seek the guidance of a Parrish wrongful death attorney immediately.
Wrongful Death Claims Under Florida Law
Under Florida law, wrongful death claims are permissible whenever someone’s negligence or unlawful act has caused the death of another person.
Importantly, not everyone can file a wrongful death claim.
A personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This person may be named in a will or appointed by the court. Florida law further specifies what damages might be available and how those will be divided among surviving family members.
There are generally two classes of damages. One goes directly to the surviving family members suffering direct harm from the decedent’s death. The other damages are “deposited” into the estate to be distributed according to the will.
Family members who may be named in the personal representative’s lawsuit against the negligent individual include the surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, or any blood relative or adoptive sibling who depended, at least in part, on the deceased for financial support.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
As in any personal injury case, the plaintiff—in this case, the personal representative—has the burden of proving their case against the defendant responsible for causing the death.
The plaintiff must prove the defendant’s misconduct or negligence was responsible for the victim’s death. This may seem simple, but in reality, it can prove difficult mainly because the victim is no longer here to attest to what transpired.
While you are not required to retain an attorney to bring a wrongful death claim, it is highly recommended to consult a Parrish wrongful death lawyer before proceeding with your case. Many wrongful death claims settle outside of court, but a skilled negotiator can ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. If your case proceeds to trial, a sharp litigator is necessary to convince the jury or judge that the defendant is responsible for the victim’s death.
Investigating the circumstances surrounding a wrongful death claim can be complex, and gathering the requisite evidence takes significant resources.
Damages in Wrongful Death Claims
Recovery of damages in a wrongful death claim can go beyond what many individuals may initially think. These can include:
- The value of lost support and services that the deceased provided to their family,
- The value of lost companionship the deceased provided to their family, and
- The emotional pain and suffering experienced by the surviving family members.
You can generally seek economic and non-economic damages for a wrongful death claim.
Economic damages in a wrongful death claim cover the direct financial losses related to the injury and subsequent death of the victim. These damages are usually easy to identify and quantify because they are based on actual loss.
While it is certainly possible for a victim to die instantly and not require medical attention, most often, there will be some level of medical treatment before their death, including emergency room treatment, inpatient care, surgery, and more. If the victim received any medical treatment due to the accident, their estate is entitled to compensation for those expenses.
Seeking compensation for the future lost earnings of your loved one can be vital. If you or your family relied on the decedent’s financial support and anticipated relying on that support in the future, you can seek compensation for those lost wages. Typically, lost wages are a bit easier to quantify in personal injury cases because the victim is still alive. However, when trying to calculate what someone would or could have earned over their lifetime, it can get complicated. The court will typically take into account the following:
- The age of the victim at their death,
- Any prior health conditions before their death,
- The needs of any minor children, and
- Earning capacity.
The victim’s estate can also collect damages for any lost wages the person incurred between the time of their injury and the time of their death.
An experienced wrongful death lawyer in Parrish, FL, can assist you with obtaining the necessary documentation and calculating anticipated compensation for a wrongful death case.
Other Financial Losses
Wrongful death claim damages can also include:
- Funeral and burial expenses,
- Lost value of childcare (e.g., cost of hiring child care previously provided by your deceased spouse);
- Lost value of household services (i.e., cost of hiring help for household tasks); and
- Lost anticipated inheritance.
While these damages are also economic, some of them may be somewhat difficult to calculate. It’s essential to have the assistance of a Parrish wrongful death attorney to accurately identify and calculate all damages you may be entitled to.
Non-economic damages are personal to the individual and can be more challenging to calculate than direct economic damages. These compensate for the intangible losses of surviving family members, such as:
- Mental pain and suffering,
- Emotional distress,
- Loss of companionship and guidance, and
- Loss of consortium.
Non-economic damages can be difficult to prove. A seasoned attorney can help gather necessary evidence to prove your non-economic damages get you the compensation you deserve for your loss.
Wrongful Death Attorney in Parrish, FL
The emotional anguish of losing a loved one can be traumatic and immobilizing. Picking up the pieces in the wake of their death can be challenging. Your focus should be on grieving and your loved ones. Let us handle the rest. At James Horne Law, we are well-versed, knowledgeable, and experienced in Florida wrongful death claims. When you hire us, you get our undivided attention to your case. Contact us for a free consultation today.