Fort Myers Wrongful Death Lawyers
The CDC reports that accidents are the fourth leading cause of death in Florida. This includes car and motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, defective product accidents, drownings, and other types of injury accidents.
When a loved one dies suddenly from one of these accident injuries, coming to terms with the death can be extremely difficult. If the accident occurred because of someone else’s negligent or wrongful conduct, the difficulty may be exacerbated by questions about why your loved one had to die and how you are going to manage without them.
While you cannot go back in time and prevent your loved one’s death, you can come to a sense of acceptance and justice by holding the responsible party accountable for their negligent or wrongful conduct and obtaining compensation for your loss. After hearing about what happened, an experienced Fort Myers wrongful death lawyer can offer honest, knowledgeable advice to help you decide on your best course of action.
The skilled attorneys at Dennis Hernandez & Associates have helped many surviving family members throughout Florida obtain justice and are committed to helping you hold those responsible for your loved one’s death accountable for their actions. We will provide a complete assessment of all the compensation you deserve for your loss and support you with a comprehensive guidance throughout the entire legal process. Let us stand with you during this difficult time and look out for your best interest.
Understanding What Constitutes Wrongful Death under Florida Law
Was It Wrongful Death?
Section 768.19 of the Florida Wrongful Death Act defines wrongful death as the death of a person that is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any other person. Accordingly, almost any kind of accident caused by someone’s wrongful or negligent actions that result in a victim’s death can be considered a wrongful death.
A surgeon’s error that ultimately leads to a patient’s death, a car accident fatality caused by an impaired driver, a defective ladder that causes a fatal fall injury, and an unsafe pool that leads to drowning all have the basis for wrongful death lawsuits. As these examples suggest, wrongful deaths can occur in many different ways but are primarily due to:
- Car accidents – According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, car accidents are a leading cause of accidental injury deaths in the U.S. When a driver who is impaired, distracted, speeding, or negligent in another way causes a fatal accident, the death is considered a wrongful death.
- Falls – Falls are another leading cause of injury deaths in the U.S., especially among the elderly. When a fatal fall occurs because of dangerous conditions on someone’s property or because they were using a defective product, their death may be considered a wrongful death.
- Drownings – Unfortunately, Florida leads the nation in drownings, and young children are especially at risk. When a drowning occurs due to a lack of adequate pool safety measures, the death could be considered a wrongful death.
- Medical errors – According to research from Johns Hopkins, 10% of all U.S. deaths are due to medical errors or medical malpractice. Among these errors are diagnostic errors, surgical errors, and medication errors.
- Workplace accidents – Fatal accidents can occur at any workplace. However, they are especially prevalent among workers in the construction, transportation, and law enforcement industries. If a fatal accident occurs due to faulty equipment or conditions in which standard safety procedures were not followed, the fatality may be a wrongful death.
Filing a Florida Wrongful Death Claim
Should You File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The thought of pursuing a legal claim for wrongful death can seem overwhelming after the death of a loved one. However, partnering with the experienced Fort Myers wrongful death attorneys of Dennis Hernandez & Associates can help during this time as we provide the support and guidance needed to take beneficial legal action.
The Florida Wrongful Death Act indicates that the decedent’s representative (usually the executor of the estate) is the one who can initiate a wrongful death claim to recover damages (compensation). However, both the estate and survivors may be entitled to recover damages, with a surviving spouse having the first right to damages, followed by children of the deceased, and parents if no spouse or children exist. Additionally, any blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters who were dependent on the decedent for support or services may also be entitled to compensation.
Proving Negligence in a Florida Wrongful Death Claim
What Do You Need to Prove in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Valid wrongful death claims have to meet the legal standards of proof for negligence. The specific standards differ depending on the type of negligent or wrongful act and the injuries that occurred. However, in all cases, you have to be able to prove that:
- The negligent party or parties had a legal duty to the deceased victim. For example, doctors and other healthcare professionals have a legal duty to provide healthcare services that are of the same standard of quality that a reasonably prudent healthcare provider in the same field of medicine would provide. A property owner has a legal duty to maintain her property in reasonably safe conditions for people visiting the property. Manufacturers have a legal duty to ensure that the products they manufacture are safe when used as intended.
- The negligent party or parties failed to meet their legal duty. If a doctor does not provide the same quality of healthcare services a reasonably prudent healthcare professional of the same medical specialty would, then he could have failed to meet his legal duty. Likewise, if a property owner or manager does not repair a structure she knows to be dangerous and does not adequately warn people visiting her property of the danger, she could have failed to meet her legal duty.
- The negligent party or parties’ failure to meet their legal duty caused fatal injuries. When dangerous conditions on someone’s property lead to a person’s fatal injuries, the property owner’s and/or manager’s negligence can be viewed as having caused the injuries. Similarly, when a patient is fatally injured because his doctor didn’t provide the same quality of healthcare services another reasonably prudent doctor practicing in the same medical specialty would, the doctor’s negligence could be viewed as having caused the fatality.
In Florida, there is a two-year statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. That means you have to file your lawsuit within two years of the death or you waive the right to hold the negligent party accountable and recover damages.
Damages Recoverable with a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit
What Compensation Can You Collect with a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Florida, the deceased victim’s estate and the survivors are both able to file a claim for damages. The damages given to the estate are supposed to provide compensation for injuries that occurred before the death and/or are related directly to the death. This compensation, which is ultimately distributed to the beneficiaries and/or legal heirs of the estate, includes:
- Lost wages and other earnings, including those 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 expected if the decedent had lived.
- Medical and funeral expenses that were paid directly by the estate. If your loved one was treated for his or her injuries and lived for a while before dying, the medical expenses could be significant. Surgeries and other procedures, as well as time in hospitals or rehab facilities, can be very expensive and should be compensated.
- Pain and anguish suffered by the deceased before death. If your loved one experienced physical pain and emotional anguish because of the injuries and their effects on his life, compensation may be available.
You also have a legal right to pursue additional damages as a survivor to compensate you for the emotional effects of your loved one’s death, including:
- Loss of services. As a survivor, you could be compensated for the value of the services your loved one would have provided from the time of the injury until his or her death, as well as in the future. These services may include such things as:
- Home maintenance tasks. If your loved one took care of repairs around the house and/or did yard maintenance tasks, you will now have to pay someone to help with those tasks. Compensation for these expenses may be available with a wrongful death suit.
- Home cleaning tasks. If your loved one was the primary home caretaker and cook, you may now need to pay someone to handle all of the typical cleaning and cooking tasks. Compensation for this expense may be possible.
- Childcare. If your loved one took care of your children, you will now have to pay for that help, so you may be able to get compensated for this new additional expense.
- Eldercare. If your deceased love one provided home care for a senior family member at home, the care will be another expense you have to cover, so compensation may be available.
- Loss of companionship, support, and advice. As a survivor, you may be able to obtain compensation for the loss of companionship, protection, and support of your loved one. This includes spouses, minor children, and adult children if there is no surviving spouse. Financial compensation can never replace the loved one you’ve lost, but it can ease your burden and help you survive.
- Mental and emotional pain and suffering due to the loss. Surviving spouses and minor children can be awarded compensation for the mental pain and suffering they experience due to the death. Parents may also obtain compensation if the victim was a minor child.
Determining the amount of compensation you should be entitled to with a wrongful death lawsuit can be very complicated since it involves losses that don’t necessarily have a definite monetary value. An experienced wrongful death attorney will, however, be able to analyze all of the damages you have suffered and look out for your best interests.
Help from Experienced Fort Myers Wrongful Death Lawyers
Where Can You Get the Advice You Need on Your Wrongful Death Claim?
If someone’s negligent or wrongful conduct led to the death of your loved one, the experienced wrongful death attorneys of Dennis Hernandez & Associates, PA want to help. We understand how difficult coping with everyday life can be after the death of a loved one and will be there to help you overcome the financial and legal challenges you face.
As wrongful death lawyers, we are committed to seeing you obtain justice and get compensated fully and fairly for your pain, suffering, and losses. To help you pursue just compensation, we will:
- Ensure that the evidence necessary to prove negligence is gathered, examined, and presented in a timely manner.
- Negotiate vigorously on your behalf with insurance company representatives and defense attorneys.
- Prepare a strong case proving wrongful death and your right to compensation for the financial and emotional impact of your loved one’s death.
- Leverage our extensive successful trial experience to fight for the compensation you deserve.
- Provide personal attention and communication to support you throughout the entire legal process.
Many personal injury lawyers try to settle quickly out of court to avoid going to trial, but not us. We will never back down in our fight for justice.
Call our Fort Myers office at 239.202.0000 or fill in the FREE CASE EVALUATION form on our website to get started on your case.