Wrongful Death Attorneys In Florida
Parker Waichman LLP, a personal injury law firm in Florida, has decades of experience representing clients in wrongful death claims. Wrongful death lawsuits are filed when someone’s death was caused by someone else’s wrongdoing. Every state has statutes on wrongful death. Our Florida personal injury attorneys are here to answer any questions you may have about pursuing a claim.
The firm offers free, no-obligation legal consultations. Contact one of our attorneys today with any questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit. We work on a contingency fee, meaning you do not pay attorneys’ fees unless we win your case.
What is a “Wrongful Death” Claim in Florida?
Generally, a wrongful death claim is filed when someone is legally responsible for the death of another person. The person who has died in a wrongful death lawsuit is known as the “decedent”. Wrongful death claims can apply to any type of fatal injury or illness, ranging from nursing home negligence lawsuits to product defect lawsuits. Surviving family members, such as the spouse or children, can win damages for losses suffered due to the death. Florida has its own laws governing wrongful death claims, as do all other states.
A wrongful death claim may be filed when someone’s death “is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract” of another party, according to Florida Statutes section 768.19. A civil lawsuit can be filed representing the decedent’s estate.
Generally, when bringing a wrongful death claim there are certain elements the plaintiff must show. The plaintiff must prove that a death occurred. This death must be caused by the wrongful conduct of the defendant. In a car accident case for example, perhaps the decedent died because the defendant was driving recklessly and failed to abide by the rules of the road. Additionally, there must be surviving family members who relied on the decedent financially. The suit must show that surviving family members are entitled to certain damages, such as funeral expenses.
Examples of Wrongful Death Claims
When someone is legally responsible for the death of another person, a wrongful death claim may be filed. Wrongful death claims therefore encompass a wide variety of cases including wrongful death from:
- Car, truck, motorcycle and pedestrian accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Construction accidents
- Product liability cases
For example, a pedestrian in Orlando walks across the street when it is their right-of-way. A truck speeding down the road runs the red light, hitting the pedestrian who later dies of their injuries. A wrongful death claim may be filed. Damages would include hospital expenses related to the decedent’s injuries as well as their pain and suffering before they died.
Wrongful death claims can also be filed over dangerous products; this includes both consumer products and allegedly defective drugs and medical devices. For example, a patient dies from a drug side effect. There was no warning on the drug label, and the manufacturer knew or should have known about the side effect. A wrongful death claim may be filed on the decedent’s behalf. The suit alleges that the decedent would not have died if the pharmaceutical company adequately warned about the side effect.
In another example, a Florida nursing home resident dies due to negligence; staff members failed to comply with doctors’ orders and ignored signs that the resident was dying. A wrongful death claim may be filed alleging that the nursing home failed in its duty of care, resulting in wrongful death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida?
In Florida, a wrongful death claim must be filed by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. The decedent may have named the representative in their will or estate plan. The court will appoint a personal representative if none is named in the will or estate plan.
The personal representative must name all surviving members who can win damages in the wrongful death claim. The representative is filing the lawsuit seeking damages on their behalf. Examples of surviving family members in a Florida wrongful death case include the decedent’s spouse, children and parents. The state also allows damages for any blood relative or adoptive sibling who was financially dependent on the decedent.
Under Florida law, a child born to unmarried parents can obtain damages if their mother dies in a wrongful death case. However, the same does not apply to the father. The child can only recover damages for death of the father if the father formally recognized that the child was his and provided financial support.
The Florida statute of limitations for a wrongful death case is two years from the date of death in most cases. If you file after this period, it is highly unlikely that the court will hear your case. In very specific cases, the statute of limitations may be postponed or “tolled”, according to Florida Statutes section 95.11(4)(d). An experienced Florida wrongful death attorney at Parker Waichman can answer specific questions you may have about filing a claim.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, the court compensates the victim through a monetary award, or “damages”. The plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit seeks specific damages on behalf of the surviving family members. Even though a wrongful death may have stemmed from a criminal activity, the wrongful death claim is a separate civil case brought by the decedent’s estate and not the government. The criminal case filed over the death addresses other matters.
Florida Statutes section 768.21 outlines the types of damages that may be awarded in a wrongful death case. Surviving family members can obtain damages for medical or funeral expenses related to the death, loss of companionship, guidance or protection, and mental and emotional pain from loss of a child.
The decedent’s estate can recover damages for lost wages, and “prospective net accumulations” of the estate, value of earnings they estate could have reasonably earned if the decedent did not die, and medical/funeral expenses paid by the estate.
The Florida personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman understand that losing a loved one is extremely difficult. Our lawyers are compassionate people dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured victims. If you or someone you know has any questions about filing a claim, contact one of our lawyers today.
Filing a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you or someone you know is interested in filing a Florida wrongful death claim, contact one of our Florida personal injury attorneys today. Parker Waichman offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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