If you lost a loved one due to the actions of another party, you are undoubtedly facing a long road ahead as you do your best to cope with your loved one’s untimely death. You may also be considering your options for taking legal action. Fortunately, Florida’s wrongful death statute helps ensure that individuals who wrongfully caused someone’s death are held responsible for their actions. Winning a wrongful death claim or lawsuit is no easy feat. We recommend contacting a Lakewood Ranch wrongful death lawyer to give your case the best chance of success.
Overview of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death may occur when a loved one dies because of an unlawful act or the negligence of another. A wrongful death case might arise from a number of different things, such as a defective product, slip and fall, or traffic accident. Intentional misconduct like assault, battery, or homicide can also be the basis for a wrongful death case.
A wrongful death lawsuit is essentially a personal injury lawsuit where someone seeks compensation for the loss of their loved one. To prove liability, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed the victim a standard of care that the defendant did not meet. They must also prove that the defendant’s violation of the standard of care, or unreasonable actions, directly caused the victim’s death. Then, the plaintiff must prove that the damages sought directly result from the death.
On average, settling a wrongful death case can take anywhere from 12 months to 3 years. However, settling before trial can significantly lessen these timeframes.
Some wrongful death cases can be fairly straightforward, such as a drunk driving case that kills an innocent driver or pedestrian. However, if multiple parties contributed to the death or if there are questions surrounding liability, the case may be more complicated.
For example, a fatal car accident may have resulted from a combination of a pothole, a drunk driver, and a faulty airbag, it would be possible for a wrongful death suit to be filed against the drunk driver, the establishment that served the alcohol, the contractor or government agency responsible for maintaining the road, the car manufacturer, and the airbag distributor.
Another example might be a medical malpractice case involving the doctor, nurses, and hospital, who could all potentially be liable.
There are many other avenues to recover compensation, and each wrongful death case is unique, so consult an attorney to find out the full extent of a wrongful death recovery.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Under Florida Law, the personal representative of an estate, usually named in a will or determined by a court, is the one who files a lawsuit for wrongful death on behalf of the deceased person’s beneficiaries. Depending on the types of damages sought, beneficiaries can be the heirs of the deceased person or the deceased person’s estate.
Typically, the personal representative of an estate in Florida is the surviving spouse, a surviving parent, a surviving adult child, or a court-appointed responsible party. Sometimes, a client may hire a professional personal representative, like an attorney.
What Damages Could a Survivor Recover?
Wrongful death settlement amounts depend on the facts of the case and the victim’s personal characteristics. Several types of damages can be awarded depending on the circumstances. Close loved ones can recover damages for their mental pain and suffering, including the costs of mental health counseling. If the deceased is a spouse to the survivor, they may recover damages for lost companionship and the emotional suffering they will incur as a result. If a minor loses their parent due to a wrongful death, they may also recover damages for lost parental guidance and instruction.
Those who were financially dependent on the victim can recover the value of financial support they would have received if the person had lived. They can also recover for the loss of the person’s household, parental, and spousal services.
In addition to these damages recoverable by the victim’s family members, their estate can recover compensation for:
- Lost earnings between the date of injury and the date of death,
- Medical expenses incurred before death, and
- Funeral and burial expenses.
Because so many factors apply, determining the damages an insurance company or court will award is unclear. The average wrongful death settlement in Florida is approximately $500,000. Some wrongful death settlements average more than $1 million. However, the amount a survivor can receive is never guaranteed. It is in the survivor’s best interest to have a wrongful death attorney in Lakewood Ranch, FL, who can advocate for damages that properly reflect the financial and emotional trauma caused by the wrongful death.
How Long Does a Survivor Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Like any lawsuit, there is a time limit on pursuing it, known as a “statute of limitations.” A statute of limitations prevents a potential party from indefinitely threatening someone with a lawsuit. To win a wrongful death lawsuit, you must comply with Florida’s statute of limitations. In general, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years from the date of death. However, in Florida, the wrongful death statute of limitations may be extended in certain limited circumstances.
If you think your case may fall under an exception to the wrongful death statute of limitations under Florida law, contact a Lakewood Ranch wrongful death lawyer for more guidance. If you miscalculate the statute of limitations, you may lose all legal rights associated with the lawsuit.
Wrongful Death Lawyer In Lakewood Ranch, FL
At James Horne Law PA, you will receive top-notch legal representation in your time of need. The firm is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and James Horne was rated an AV-Preeminent attorney by Martindale-Hubbell. Superlawyers has also recognized Mr. Horne, an honor only bestowed on the top 5% of attorneys. Mr. Horne is a Lakewood Ranch wrongful death attorney that handles every facet of a wrongful death case, from intake to trial. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.