What Constitutes Wrongful Death in FL and Why Hiring a Lawyer is Essential to Your Settlement
Wrongful death accidents happen more frequently than many people realize. When someone dies as a result of the misconduct of another, their estate or next of kin may be able to file a lawsuit for wrongful death in FL.
There are several variables involved and factors to consider before filing this type of lawsuit. In the guide below, we’ll explain everything you need to know about wrongful death lawsuits in Florida and how an experienced lawyer can help you get the outcome you deserve.
What is Considered Wrongful Death in FL?
According to Florida Statute 768.19, wrongful death occurs when an individual or entity causes someone else’s death due to “a wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty…”
Essentially, when someone (often referred to as the decedent) dies due to another party’s legal fault, wrongful death applies. Some instances that are included are:
- Negligence, such as in an accident or a slip-and-fall incident
- Professional negligence, like medical malpractice
- Product defects
- Intentional acts (including crime)
If any of these incidents or related events occur, a wrongful death lawsuit may be a possibility for the decedent’s next of kin. If you’re not sure whether you have a valid case on your hands, take advantage of a free consultation and discuss your case with a wrongful death attorney right away.
You have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida. Therefore, you mustn’t wait to take action because every second counts. If you miss the statute of limitations, you won’t get another chance to get justice in most cases.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida?
Some states allow some or any of the decedent’s relatives to file a lawsuit in the event of wrongful death. In Florida, however, it must be filed by a personal representative of the estate. Also sometimes known as the executor, this person may be a surviving spouse, a sibling or parent, or even a lawyer or other professional representative.
The personal representative is acting on behalf of the individual’s estate and their surviving family members. They must also include a list of all potential beneficiaries when they file suit. This ensures that everyone is properly represented and that the lawsuit can be handled accordingly.
Not sure who is the personal representative for your loved one? Reach out to an attorney and they will help you get to the bottom of things so you can file your lawsuit and start moving forward with your life.
Wrongful Death vs. Criminal Homicide
When you file a lawsuit for a wrongful death claim, that is a civil case. Homicide is considered a criminal matter. In some cases, the same act can result in both criminal charges and a civil lawsuit for wrongful death. However, a lawsuit typically awards monetary compensation for damages, whereas criminal cases will include possible jail time, severe fines, and more.
For example, if someone dies as a result of medical malpractice, their family has a pretty straightforward civil lawsuit on their hands. In some cases, it could be more complicated.
Let’s say that two people get into an argument at a bar in Daytona Beach during Bike Week. Some out-of-towner pulls a gun and shoots the other person, causing their death. In this instance, the family could file a wrongful death lawsuit and it’s likely that the local prosecutor will also press criminal charges.
This is another reason it’s good to have an experienced lawyer on your side. Some people don’t realize that they can also file civil lawsuits against someone facing criminal charges, but it might be your only chance to get justice for what was done.
What to Expect from the Legal Process in a Wrongful Death Case in Florida
There are several types of “damages” that you can recover in a wrongful death case, depending on how you’re related to the decedent and what other factors are involved. Spouses can recover damages for things like protection and companionship, while children may be awarded damages for the loss of parental guidance and companionship, for example.
Other types of damages can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit, as well. Those include:
- All costs related to support and services for the decedent prior to their death (with interest)
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of support and services
- Lost estate value
- Mental or emotional pain and suffering
- Lost income or benefits
Every case is unique and the courts will evaluate them accordingly. They will consider things like relationships, level of dependency, the circumstances of the case, and other details to determine an adequate compensation amount. There is no “average wrongful death claim settlement” in Florida, or anywhere for that matter. Every claim and situation is unique and the outcomes will be, as well.
The best way to get an idea of what you might be able to get out of your lawsuit for wrongful death in FL is to contact an experienced lawyer. The team at Rosen Injury Law will help you go over the details of your case and determine what kind of legal recourse you may have. Plus, with our no-fee policy, you don’t have to pay a dime until your case is won.
Why You Need an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer in FL
As you can see, there are a lot of factors and variables involved in a lawsuit like this. Having an experienced wrongful death lawyer on your side can make the process a lot easier to handle. Here are some of the biggest benefits of and reasons for hiring a lawyer for your wrongful death case.
Wrongful death lawyers can provide you with the trusted insight and expertise that you need regarding your case. This is likely a tumultuous time for you. You’re grieving, probably still reeling from the loss, and trying to figure out your next move. When you choose to hire a lawyer, they will be there to support you, both professionally and emotionally, throughout the legal journey.
A lawyer will work to get the most for your claim and help you avoid saying or doing the wrong thing. They know how to make sure that you take the right steps after a loved one passes so that you don’t compromise your lawsuit or the ability to file one.
Expert Negotiation Skills
Although you can’t put a price on life, monetary compensation might be the only way that you can fight for justice. Wrongful death lawyers know exactly what you can expect to get for your claim and how to make that happen. These payouts vary significantly from one case to the next. Plus, they require a certain “burden of proof” in order to get the best outcome.
Your attorney can help you build the best case to highlight the impact of the loss on your family, the suffering of your loved one prior to their death (if relevant), and how wrong or unnecessary the death was in the first place. All of this builds up to give you more leverage and with a lawyer on your side, that means maximizing the settlement that you get in your case.
Insurance companies and the defendant’s lawyers know how to avoid paying more than they have to for any kind of settlement. They’re really good at convincing people to take less than they should, but when you have a lawyer working for you, they won’t accept anything less than what they think is fair.
Most cases are settled out of court, but you still need a lawyer on your side for the negotiations. And when you do end up in court, your lawyer will be ready to fight the battle all the way to the end.
Extensive Knowledge of the Law
Lawyers have studied the law extensively. Florida wrongful death attorneys know all of the legal statutes and how to best proceed with civil lawsuits. They have years of practical experience handling a host of unique cases, including wrongful death, personal injury, negligence, and others.
Laws are confusing for anyone. If you’ve ever tried to read a legal statute, you’re probably aware of how complex the terminology can be. A lawyer will be able to break it down for you and explain everything along the way. They also have the resources to make sure that your claim is processed efficiently and with minimal delays or errors.
Less Worry and Stress
Hiring a lawyer means that you can focus on healing and trying to get your life back on track while they focus on your legal case. The last thing that you need to deal with right now is paperwork, phone calls, and court proceedings. A lawyer can take care of everything and provide you with peace of mind that you’ll get the outcome that you deserve so that you can take care of yourself and your family.
Save Time and Money
What better reason to hire a wrongful death lawyer than to save a lot of time and money on the legal process of a lawsuit? In addition to being able to handle the process more efficiently, lawyers like the dedicated team at Rosen Injury Law, P.A. can save you tons of money, both by handling the legal process and by getting you a better settlement.
Plus, when you choose the team at Rosen Injury Law to represent your wrongful death in FL, you don’t have to pay anything until we win your case, which takes even more stress off your plate. Call us now to discuss your loss and see how we can help you get justice.
Related Content: What Is Considered Wrongful Death in Florida After a Car Accident?