The death of a loved one is catastrophic, no matter what the circumstances. But if that death was caused by someone else – either intentionally or unintentionally – it can mean that the pain surrounding your loved one’s passing may just be getting started. If you feel their death was what is known as a “wrongful death,” you may want to take legal action. However, classifying a wrongful death can be difficult. Whether it be from a car accident, a medical error, or neglect, the hiring of an affordable attorney can help you navigate the process. Experienced Orlando wrongful death attorneys have the knowledge to help you understand the process and help take the first steps towards seeking justice.
In the United States, there are almost 43 unintentional deaths alone for every 100,000 people. This doesn’t include those who were intentionally killed. Of course, whether intentional or not, a death has to meet certain criteria to be considered a wrongful death. In Florida wrongful death damages fall under particular statutes. Let’s take a look at what you need to know if you think your loved one suffered a wrongful death.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death?
According to Florida law, a wrongful death occurs “when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person.” With the exception of willful murder, most wrongful deaths occur unintentionally and usually from negligence. These include things like medical malpractice, other common medical errors, a car accident, bicycle accident an accident at the workplace, a faulty consumer product and being provided an illegal drug. This can also include criminal acts such as violent robberies, drunk driving, or other negligent by a driver who is determined to be at fault . A wrongful death can also occur in a nursing home or assisted living facility when there is a lack of care, or negligence.
Wrongful death lawyers who focus on wrongful death lawsuits see many cases that have common issues:
- Automobile, commercial truck, bicycle or motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Medical errors
- Birth injuries
- Product defects
- Occupational exposure and hazards
- Accidents on public or private property
- Crimes including violence, shootings and stabbings, this includes robbery or drunk driving
- Activities including day care, adult care and field trips which were supervised
- Nursing home or assisted living abuse, neglect or lack of care
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Unlike a criminal case, which your loved one’s death may or may not include, a claim of wrongful death is a civil case. The outcome will include a monetary award, or a lack thereof (if you don’t prove your case). This alone is one of the many reasons an attorney with experience in wrongful death is important to have on your side. A wrongful death lawyer has the experience to help file these cases and see them to a successful conclusion. Another good reason to have an experienced wrongful death attorney is the complexity of the laws and the avenues that might be available beyond the criminal court system. A person might be found innocent in court, due to a lack of evidence for example, yet justice for a loved one can be found in civil court. The case of OJ Simpson is a prime example of this.
In Florida, those who can file a wrongful death lawsuit are the deceased person’s spouse, children, and parents, and any blood relative or adoptive sibling who is “partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services.” Although Florida law requires the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate to file the wrongful death claim, it can be on behalf of any of those listed above.
What Are You Entitled To?
Possible damages that can be awarded to family members of the deceased include:
- The value of support and services the deceased person had provided to the surviving family member
- Loss of companionship, guidance, and protection provided by the deceased person
- Mental and emotional pain and suffering due to the loss of a child, and
medical or funeral expenses any surviving family member has paid for the deceased person.
The person’s estate can also recover things like:
- Lost wages, benefits, and other earnings, including the value of lost earnings that the deceased person could reasonably have been expected to make if he or she had lived
- Lost “prospective net accumulations” of the estate, or the value of earnings the estate could reasonably have been expected to collect if the deceased person had lived, and
- Medical and funeral expenses that were paid by the estate directly.
How long do you have to file?
A wrongful death lawsuit in Florida must be filed within two years of the date of death in most cases, according to Florida Statutes section 95.11(4)(d). The deadline may be “tolled,” or postponed, under a few very precise instances.
The First Step
A wrongful death lawsuit can be quite complicated; gathering evidence, talking to witnesses, researching relevant case law. It is all to be started within the statute of limitations and will likely coincide with the grief you’re experiencing over the loss of your loved one. It’s important that you have a trusted advisor who knows and understand the process. Someone who can help guide in seeking justice in one of the most stressful times in your life.
If you feel you have a wrongful death case, contact the attorneys at Badgley Law Group today or call 407-781-0420 for a consultation. Our firm, located in Orlando, can help you understand the oftentimes complicated legal system. Whether the wrongful death is from a car accident, medical malpractice or another medical error, our wrongful death attorneys in Orlando can help find justice for your family. We have many years of experience and can be your trusted advisor during a difficult time.