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.
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. 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, a car accident, an accident at the workplace, a faulty consumer product and being provided an illegal drug.
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).
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 future wages and benefits and any medical and funeral expenses paid for by the estate.
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.
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.