Losing a loved one is never easy. You may be in shock and consumed by grief, not realizing that a person’s death could be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Understanding what a wrongful death lawsuit is can help you understand why you should talk to a wrongful death attorney about filing a claim against the person responsible for your loved one’s death.
Florida law allows eligible individuals to seek damages through a wrongful death lawsuit. Fla. Stat. § 768.19 lists the following reasons for filing a claim:
In 2021, 224,935 people in the U.S. died from accidental deaths. These are deaths due to unexpected, unintentional circumstances. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the following leading causes of accidental deaths:
The most common causes of wrongful death suits include:
Although accidental deaths may be unintended, if a person’s negligence, default, or breach of contract caused the accident, the accidental death may also be wrongful.
Wrongful acts resulting in a person’s death are grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. In these situations, the person responsible for the death may face two trials. Civil courts hear wrongful death suits, and criminal courts handle homicide and manslaughter cases.
It’s easier to prove a wrongful death case because proving a wrongful act led to a person’s death establishes grounds for the lawsuit. To prove a person guilty of homicide or manslaughter, the prosecutor must prove the defendant committed the criminal act as defined by criminal law.
A wrongful death judgment results in a jury awarding damages to the claimant. Depending on the circumstances, the at-fault party’s insurance company may pay all or some of the damages awarded. The consequences of a criminal conviction for homicide or manslaughter involve a prison sentence.
Florida permits the decedent’s personal representative to initiate a lawsuit. The decedent’s family members would be involved in the suit. Still, a family member will only file the claim if they’re also the personal representative.
Any person whose actions or inactions cause a person’s death may be sued for wrongful death. A successful lawsuit depends on the claimant’s ability to prove that wrongful action, breach of contract, negligence, or default caused the decedent’s death.
Claimants can recover compensatory damages from a wrongful death lawsuit. Compensatory damages include the following:
In some cases, the claimants can seek punitive damages. Punitive damages aren’t about the financial or personal impact on the claimant; they’re consequences for the at-fault party’s conduct and apply to cases involving gross negligence or intentional misconduct.
Several factors can affect the settlement amount for a wrongful death claim, including the following:
Settlement amounts are reached through negotiation. Those who don’t reach an agreement can go to court, which could result in a higher judgment.
Florida allows two years for claimants to file a wrongful death suit. It doesn’t matter if the decedent was killed in a car accident, a slip-and-fall, or whether they died in Tampa or Miami. The statute of limitations applies to all wrongful deaths occurring within the state.
The money from a wrongful death suit goes to the victim’s family. The funds should compensate those who relied on the dependent for income or those who incurred the expenses caused by their death.
Some of the damages may go to the victim’s estate. Depending on the decedent’s will, these damages may ultimately go to the immediate family members or be distributed among family members and friends named in their will.
A wrongful death attorney can confirm if you have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Talking to an attorney is crucial because you may not know you have legal grounds to file a claim. When you contact Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys, we’ll explain your options and how much you could receive from a settlement.
When we take your case, you don’t have to worry about finding evidence or funds for a lawsuit. We don’t charge fees unless you receive damages from the at-fault party, and we’ll gather the evidence needed to get you the compensation you deserve.
Accidents of Unintentional Injuries. (2023).
Gross Negligence. (2023).