Sarasota Wrongful Death Attorneys
The sudden death of a family member can be devastating. If the death was caused by someone else’s negligent or wrongful conduct, dealing with the loss can be even more difficult. Questions about why and how fatal the injuries occurred, comingled with financial worries, family issues and grief, can make coping with the loss almost impossible.
A wrongful death claim cannot undo what has been done or resolve all of these challenging issues. However, it can provide some necessary financial assistance and a path for coming to terms with your loved one’s death.
If a family member recently suffered fatal injuries because of someone else’s wrongful action or negligence, the experienced Sarasota wrongful death attorneys at Dennis Hernandez & Associates can help you take appropriate legal action. We have helped hundreds of surviving family members throughout Florida and are committed to holding the parties responsible for your loved one’s death accountable for their actions and making sure you obtain the financial compensation you deserve.
What Is Considered a Wrongful Death in Florida?
Was the Death a Wrongful Death?
According to section 768.19 of the Florida Wrongful Death Act, a wrongful death occurs when a person dies because of a wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty. Almost any type of accident injury caused by someone else’s wrongful or negligent actions can qualify as a wrongful death if the accident injury resulted in the victim’s death.
In general, wrongful deaths occur in the following types of situations:
- Medical errors – When patients suffer fatal injuries due to doctors’, nurses’ or other healthcare professionals’ negligence or errors, the death could be considered a wrongful death.
- Car accidents – When a car accident caused by an impaired, distracted, speeding or in other ways, negligent driver results in death, it could be considered a wrongful death.
- Workplace accidents When a fatal accident occurs at a workplace (e.g., a construction site) because of unsafe conditions, it could possibly be seen as a wrongful death.
- Falls – When someone falls and is fatally injured due to unsafe conditions on someone’s property, their death may be considered a wrongful death.
- Drownings – When a person drowns in a pool because the pool safety measures were not adequate, the death could be viewed as a wrongful death.
A patient’s death due to a physician’s diagnostic or surgical error, a guest’s drowning at an unsafe resort pool, a fatal car accident injury caused by a distracted driver, and a child’s death due to a defective, dangerous product are just a few examples of specific situations that may provide grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Do I Have Grounds for a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Section 768.20 of Florida’s Wrongful Death Act stipulates that the deceased person’s representative (usually the Executor of the estate) is the one who can initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. However, both the estate and survivors can recover damages (compensation). Eligible survivors include the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, as well as other blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters who were partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services.
As in other types of personal injury lawsuits, there is a statute of limitations for initiating a wrongful death lawsuit. In Florida, this time period is two years, meaning you must file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the death or you give up the right to hold the culpable party accountable.
In addition, a Florida wrongful death claim must also meet the standards of proof for negligence. The exact proof varies with the circumstances surrounding the negligent or wrongful act committed and the resulting fatal injuries, but in all cases, a claimant must be able to show that:
- The negligent person(s) or entity had a legal duty to the deceased. For instance, healthcare providers have a legal duty to provide healthcare services that meet the standard of quality a reasonably careful healthcare provider in the same practice area would provide; and property owners have a legal duty to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition for visitors and others or, if not entirely possible, warn them of a danger.
- They failed to meet their legal duty. If a doctor does not provide the same quality of healthcare services other reasonably careful practitioners of the same medical specialty would provide, then he could be found to have failed to meet his legal duty. Similarly, if a property owner or manager doesn’t repair a structure he knows is dangerous and does not warn visitors to his property of the danger, he could be considered to have failed to meet his legal duty.
- Their failure to meet their legal duty caused fatal injuries. Fatal injuries that occurred 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 Damages Are Recoverable with a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Can I Get Compensated as a Claimant in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Florida, the estate of the decedent and his or her survivors may both have a valid claim for damages (compensation). Damages awarded to the estate are those that the deceased person would be entitled to for injuries that occurred prior to his/her death and/or are related directly to the death. These damages are paid to the estate, so they are ultimately distributed to the estate’s beneficiaries and/or legal heirs.
Damages that may be awarded to the estate include:
- Lost wages, benefits and other earnings the deceased person could reasonably have been expected to make if he or she had lived.
- Lost prospective net accumulations of the estate.
- Medical and funeral expenses that were paid by the estate.
The deceased victim’s survivors also have the right to sue for additional damages to compensate them for the financial and emotional impact of the death. These damages may include:
- The value of support and services the deceased person provided to them.
- The loss of companionship, guidance, and protection provided by the deceased person.
- Their emotional and mental pain and suffering because of the loss.
- Medical or funeral expenses paid for the deceased person.
How Can Experienced Sarasota Wrongful Death Attorneys Help with a Florida Wrongful Death Claim?
What Sarasota Law Firm Can I Turn to for Expert Help with a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If you have recently lost a family member because of fatal injuries caused by the wrongful or negligent conduct of another party (or parties), discussing your legal options with the Sarasota wrongful death attorneys at Dennis Hernandez & Associates, PA as soon as possible is in your best interest. We want to help you get all of your questions about your loved one’s death answered and hold the negligent party or parties accountable for their actions.
As your wrongful death attorneys, we ensure that we will support and guide you with compassion and knowledge through the entire legal process. We will investigate your claim and collect all the evidence necessary to prove negligence. We will negotiate vigorously with insurance company representatives and defense attorneys on your behalf. We will build a powerful case to prove wrongful death and your right to compensation for the financial and emotional impact of your loved one’s death.
Other lawyers may be eager to settle out of court and avoid going to trial, but we will not settle easily or back down from fighting for your rights. We are committed to supporting you throughout the entire legal process and will leverage our extensive trial experience to fight for the compensation you deserve.
To get started on your wrongful death case, call our Sarasota office at 941.210.0000 or fill in the FREE CASE EVALUATION form on our website.