Orlando Wrongful Death Attorneys
When a loved one dies unexpectedly from an accident injury, coping with the loss can be extremely difficult. If the accident was caused by someone else’s negligent or wrongful actions, the difficulty may be even worse. Survivors may agonize over why their loved one had to die and how they are going to manage without them.
You can never go back to a time before your loved one’s death, but you might be able to arrive at some understanding and acceptance if you hold the responsible party accountable for their negligence and obtain compensation for your loss. After hearing about what happened to your loved one, an experienced Orlando wrongful death attorney can provide compassionate, knowledgeable advice to help you decide on your best course of action.
The trusted attorneys at Dennis Hernandez & Associates have helped many families in Florida obtain justice and are committed to helping you hold those responsible for your loved one’s death accountable for their actions. We will consider all the compensation you deserve for your loss and support you with comprehensive guidance throughout the entire legal process. Let us look out for your rights and advocate for you and your family during this challenging time.
What Constitutes Wrongful Death in Florida?
Was Your Loved One’s Death a Wrongful Death?
Most accidents that are caused by someone’s wrongful or negligent actions and result in a death can be considered a wrongful death under Florida law. The Florida Wrongful Death Act clearly 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.
A car crash caused by an impaired driver that causes fatal injuries, surgeon’s error that leads to a patient’s death, defective equipment that causes a fatal injury, and a pool without adequate safety measures that leads to a drowning all have the basis for wrongful death lawsuits.
Wrongful deaths can occur in many different ways, as the examples noted above suggest. However, they are primarily due to:
- Medical errors –Ten percent of all U.S. deaths are due to medical errors or medical malpractice, according to research from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. These errors include surgical errors, diagnostic errors, medication errors and other serious mistakes by healthcare professionals.
- Workplace accidents – Fatal accidents, such as slips and falls, can occur at any workplace, but they occur most frequently 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 could be a wrongful death.
- Car accidents – The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control reports that car accidents are a leading cause of accidental injury deaths in the U.S. When someone is impaired, distracted, speeding or negligent in another way and causes a fatal car crash, the death is considered a wrongful death.
- Falls – Falls are a leading cause of injury deaths in the U.S., especially among the elderly. If a fatal fall occurs because of dangerous conditions on someone’s property or because of a defective product, the death may be a wrongful death.
- Drownings – Sadly, Florida has more drowning deaths than any other state in the nation, with young children being the most at risk for drowning. If a drowning occurs due to lack of adequate pool safety measures, the death could be a wrongful death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
Should You File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Pursuing a legal claim for wrongful death can seem like a lot of trouble after the death of a loved one. However, with the experienced Orlando wrongful death attorneys of Dennis Hernandez & Associates by your side, you will have the support and guidance you need to take legal action that’s in your best interest.
According to the Florida Wrongful Death Act, your loved one’s personal representative (usually the Executor of the estate) can initiate a wrongful death claim to recover damages (compensation), but both the estate and survivors may be entitled to recover damages. A surviving spouse has the first right to damages, followed by the children of the deceased, and the parents, if no spouse or children exist. In addition, any blood relative and adoptive brothers and sisters who were dependent on the deceased for support or services may also be entitled to compensation.
What Does a Florida Wrongful Death Claim Entail?
What Do You Have to Prove in a Wrongful Death Claim?
To hold up as a wrongful death claim, the claim has to meet the legal standards of proof for negligence. The specific standards vary with the type of negligent or wrongful act and the fatal injuries that occurred, but in all cases, you have to be able to prove that:
- The negligent party or parties had a legal duty to the deceased victim.
- The negligent party or parties failed to meet their legal duty.
- The negligent party or parties’ failure to meet their legal duty caused fatal injuries.
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. 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. 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.
Similarly, a property owner and/or manager has a legal duty to maintain her property in reasonably safe conditions for people visiting the property. 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. When dangerous conditions on the property lead to someone’s fatal injuries, the property owner’s and/or manager’s negligence can be viewed as having caused the injuries
Manufacturers also have a legal duty to ensure that the products they manufacture are safe when used as intended. If a manufacturer does not ensure that their products are safe, and a defective product fatally injures a consumer who was using the product as intended, the manufacturer’s negligence could be seen as having caused the fatal injuries.
What Damages Are Recoverable with a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
What Compensation Can You Obtain with a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Florida, both the deceased’s estate and his or her survivors can collect damages with a wrongful death lawsuit. Damages are awarded to the estate (and ultimately distributed to beneficiaries and/or legal heirs of the estate) to provide compensation for injuries that occurred before the death and/or are related directly to the death, such as:
- Lost wages and other earnings – the money the deceased person could reasonably have been expected to make if he or she had lived.
- Medical and funeral expenses – the expenses that were paid directly by the estate. These expenses could be significant if your loved one was treated for his or her injuries and lived for a while after being treated. Surgeries and other procedures, as well as time in hospitals or rehab facilities, can be very expensive and should be compensated.
- Pain and anguish – the suffering your loved one experienced after the injuries. If your loved one felt physical pain and emotional anguish because of the injuries and their effects on his life, compensation may be available.
- Loss of companionship, support and advice. Financial compensation can never replace the loved one you’ve lost, but it can ease your burden and help you survive. As a survivor, you may be able to obtain compensation for the loss of companionship, protection and support of your loved one.
- Mental and emotional pain and suffering due to the loss. Surviving spouses and minor children can be granted compensation for the emotional suffering they experience due to the death. Parents may also obtain compensation if the victim was a minor child.
- Loss of services. As a survivor, you may be eligible for compensation for the value of 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:
- Housework. 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.
- Home maintenance. If your loved one routinely handled repairs around the house and/or did yard maintenance work, you will now have to pay someone to help with those tasks. Compensation for these expenses may be available with a wrongful death suit.
- Childcare. If your loved one took care of your children, you will now have to pay for that help. You may be able to get compensated for this new additional expense.
- Elder care. If your deceased love one provided home care for a senior family member at home, the care will be another expense you will have to cover and for which you may seek compensation.
As a survivor, you also have a legal right to pursue additional damages to compensate you for the losses involved in your loved one’s death, including:
Determining the total amount of compensation you could be entitled to with a wrongful death lawsuit can be very complicated, as you must take into account losses that do not have a definite monetary value. However, an experienced wrongful death attorney will be able to assess all of the damages you have suffered and advise you on how much you might receive to compensate you for your losses and suffering.
Help from Experienced Orlando Wrongful Death Attorneys
Where Can You Get the Help You Need with a Wrongful Death Claim?
If your loved one was fatally injured because of someone else’s negligent or wrongful actions, the experienced wrongful death attorneys of Dennis Hernandez & Associates, PA want to hear what happened so we can help. We understand how difficult life can be after the death of a loved one and want to help you handle the financial and legal challenges.
We are committed to achieving justice and obtaining full and fair compensation for your pain, suffering and losses. In pursuing just compensation for you, we commit to:
- Ensuring that evidence to prove negligence is gathered, examined and presented in a timely manner.
- Negotiating assertively with insurance company representatives and defense attorneys on your behalf.
- Preparing a powerful case proving wrongful death and your right to fair compensation for the financial and emotional impact of your loved one’s death.
- Using our extensive successful trial experience and skill to fight for the compensation you deserve.
- Providing personal attention and open communication to support you throughout the entire legal process.
- Not backing down in the fight for justice.
Many personal injury lawyers try to settle quickly out of court to avoid going to trial, but not us. We will not back down!
Bear in mind that there is a two-year statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, so you must file within two years of the death or you waive the right to hold the negligent party accountable and recover damages.
Call our Orlando office today at 407.680.0000 or fill in the FREE CASE EVALUATION form on our website to get started on your case.