Florida Wrongful Death Lawyers
When a family member dies, the ensuing grief can seem unbearable. If your family member’s death was caused by someone else’s wrongful conduct, accepting the loss is even more difficult. It’s impossible to turn back time and prevent the actions that led to your loved one’s death; however, you may be able to hold the wrongful party accountable through a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you recently lost a family member and you believe his/her death was due to someone else’s wrongful action or negligence, please contact an experienced Florida wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to find out if you can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The trusted Florida wrongful death attorneys at Dennis Hernandez & Associates, PA have helped hundreds of surviving family members throughout the state and want to help you hold the parties responsible for your loved one’s death accountable for their actions and make sure you obtain the financial compensation you deserve.
What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death in Florida?
The Florida Wrongful Death Act governs legal actions brought under the claim of a wrongful death. Section 768.19 defines a 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 person. Basically, that means that almost any type of “accident that was caused by someone else’s wrongful or negligent actions could qualify as a wrongful death if it resulted in the victim’s death.
A fatal car accident caused by a distracted driver, a medical error that resulted in a death, a drowning at an unsafe pool, or even an intentional assault that caused the victim’s death may all provide the basis for a wrongful death lawsuit. General types of possible wrongful deaths occur due to:
- Workplace accidents – Fatal workplace accidents can occur at any place of employment but are especially prevalent among those who work in the construction, transportation, and law enforcement industries.
- Car accidents – Across the U.S., approximately 40,000 people die each year because of car accidents. These deaths are considered wrongful deaths when the fatal accident was caused by a distracted, impaired, speeding or in other ways, negligent driver.
- Medical errors – Healthcare professionals make mistakes all the time. When their medical errors result in a fatality, the death could be considered a wrongful death.
- Falls – When someone dies after falling due to unsafe conditions on someone’s property or due to using an unsafe product, their death may be considered wrongful death.
- Drownings – When someone drowns because of inadequate pool safety measures, >the death could be viewed as wrongful death.
How Are Wrongful Death Claims Handled in Florida?
Both the decedent’s estate and the decedent’s survivors may be entitled to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit, but the decedent’s personal representative (usually the Executor of the estate) must be the one to initiate the lawsuit. According to the Florida Wrongful Death Act, survivors include the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and, when partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services, any blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters.
Like most personal injury lawsuits, a statute of limitations applies to your right to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. In Florida, this is two years. That is, you must file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the death, or you waive the right to hold the culpable party accountable.
A wrongful death claim must also meet the standards of proof for a valid negligence claim. The exact proof of negligence varies with the circumstances surrounding the negligent or wrongful act and resulting fatal injuries, but in all cases, you have to be able to prove that:
- The negligent person(s) or entity had a legal duty to the deceased. For example, a property owner has a legal duty to keep his property in reasonably safe condition for invited visitors and others or, if not entirely possible, warn them of a danger; and a doctor has a legal duty to provide healthcare services of the same quality as a reasonably prudent healthcare provider practicing in the same area of medicine would provide.
- They failed to meet their legal duty. If a property owner does not repair a structure he knows to be dangerous and does not warn visitors to his property of the danger, he could be considered to have failed to meet his legal duty. If a doctor does not provide the same quality of healthcare services as a reasonably prudent practitioner of the same medical specialty would provide, then he could be found to have failed to meet his legal duty.
- Their failure to meet their legal duty caused fatal injuries. Injuries sustained because of the dangerous conditions on someone’s property or because a doctor didn’t follow standard procedures could, for example, be seen as resulting from the property owner’s and the doctor’s negligence.
What Are Damages in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In the State of Florida, both the estate of the decedent and the decedent’s survivors may have a valid claim for damages (compensation). Damages awarded to the estate are damages that the decedent is entitled to for injuries that occurred prior to his/her death and/or are related directly to the decedent’s death. Because these damages are paid to the estate, they will ultimately be distributed to the beneficiaries and/or legal heirs of the estate, which will likely include the decedent’s legal survivors.
Damages that may be awarded to the estate include:
- 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 decedent had lived.
- Medical and funeral expenses that were paid by the estate directly.
- The value of support and services the deceased person provided to the surviving family member(s).
- Loss of companionship, guidance, and protection provided by the deceased person.
- Mental and emotional pain and suffering due to the loss.
- Medical or funeral expenses any surviving family member has paid for the deceased person.
Get Help from Experienced Florida Wrongful Death Attorneys
If you believe that a family member’s death was caused by the wrongful conduct of another party (or parties), please contact the Florida wrongful death attorneys at Dennis Hernandez & Associates, PA as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. We want to help you get your questions answered and hold the negligent parties accountable for their actions.
We assure you that all evidence is gathered in a timely manner to prove negligence and that we will negotiate directly with insurance companies and defense attorneys on your behalf. We are committed to building a powerful case to prove wrongful death and your right to compensation for the financial and emotional impact of your loved one’s death.
Many lawyers will do everything in their power to settle out of court, but we will never back down from the fight for your rights. We are dedicated to supporting you throughout the entire legal process and will leverage our extensive trial experience to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Call us at 855-LAW-DENNIS or fill in the FREE CASE EVALUATION form on our website to get started on your case.