Tampa & Sarasota Wrongful Death Attorney

If you have lost someone unexpectedly due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you need the support and guidance of an experienced wrongful death attorney. The Tampa wrongful death attorneys at Dennis Hernandez & Associates, P.A., understand how traumatic your loss can be and are prepared to help you with the legal matters that can arise in a wrongful death case.

What is a Wrongful Death Case?

A civil action brought by the survivors (or the estate) of a person who died due to the intentional actions or negligence of another is called a “wrongful death case.” Each state has its own set of rules governing claims, including rules identifying who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state’s civil court system. In most cases, a family member or the personal representative of the deceased’s estate will be able to file the suit.

Wrongful Death Damages

The rules of each state specify when this kind of case needs to be filed and the various types of damages that can be recovered in the event of a lawsuit. The amount of damages that the surviving family of the deceased can receive is determined by the court based on a number of factors. These may include the relationship between the survivor and the deceased; the amount of the deceased’s net income available to the survivor; the replacement value of the deceased’s services; and the life expectancy of all parties.

In addition, an individual’s relationship to the decedent may entitle him or her to specific benefits as follows.

Each survivor may recover:

  • Value with interest of lost support from the date of injury or death
  • Future loss of support and services from the date of death reduced to present value
  • Medical and funeral expenses due to the injury or death (may be recovered to the survivor who has paid them)

Spouses may recover for:

  • Loss of decedent’s companionship and protection
  • Mental pain and suffering from the date of injury

Children & parents may recover:

  • Minors may seek compensation for lost parental companionship and guidance
  • Mental pain and suffering from the date of injury or death
  • Each parent of a minor child may recover for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury
  • Parents of adult children may recover for mental pain and suffering if there are no other survivors

In addition to these damages, in cases where intentional or reckless actions have caused a death, the court may choose to impose punitive damages to punish the offending party and discourage them and others from such behavior in the future.

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Common Causes of Wrongful Deaths

These are just a few of the causes of wrongful deaths:

Car accidents: Thousands of lives are lost on Florida roads each year due to car accidents. Accidents with fatalities often result from:

  • Reckless driving
  • Speeding
  • Defects in roads or vehicles
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Aggressive driving

Truck accidents: The size and weight of commercial trucks, tractor-trailers, and other large vehicles make truck accidents especially likely to result in fatalities. Some of the ways semi trucks or large commercial vehicles can cause a wrongful death are:

  • Driving while fatigued/overworked
  • Negligence by the driver or motor carrier
  • Driving with a load that is overweight
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Driving in adverse road or weather conditions
  • Mechanical defects

Medical malpractice: When medical professionals or health care providers fail to meet accepted standards of care due to negligence, patients can lose their lives. Fatalities related to medical malpractice may include:

  • Medication errors
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Defective medical devices
  • Incorrect or delayed treatment
  • Incorrect diagnoses
  • Surgical mistakes

Workplace accidents: Data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) shows that workplace fatalities are on the rise. OSHA standards require employers to maintain a safe workplace for their employees. When they don’t, fatalities can occur due to:

  • Falls from ladders, roofs, scaffolding, and other high places
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Being struck by a falling, swinging, or misplaced object
  • “Caught in” or “caught in between” accidents involving machines, tools, or devices
  • Electrocution, particularly on construction sites

Wrongful death FAQ

These are just a few of the causes of wrongful deaths:

Q: What are the key elements of a wrongful death case?

A: As the law defines them, the elements are:

  • Negligence—It must be proven that the death was the result of the carelessness, negligence, or recklessness of the defendant.
  • Causation—The plaintiff must prove the manner in which the defendant’s actions or lack of action caused the death.
  • Breach of duty—The plaintiff must prove that a duty was owed by the defendant to the deceased. An example would be an employer having a duty to provide a safe workplace.
  • Damages—Quantifiable damages must exist, such as the costs of medical care or a funeral, or a loss of income.

Q: How long should I expect a wrongful death lawsuit to last?

A: Wrongful death cases can have a wide range of complexity, from straightforward auto accidents to complicated product liability cases in which manufacturing or design defects must be thoroughly investigated. We know how anxious our clients are to resolve their cases, and we will be aggressive in reaching a resolution, but each case is unique.

Q: What is the difference between a homicide and a wrongful death?

A: In general, there are two types of lawsuits: criminal and civil. Criminal cases are brought by prosecutors on behalf of the victims and the state; civil cases are between individuals or between an individual and an entity such as a corporation or insurance company. Wrongful death suits are civil cases and are initiated by estates or survivors.

Q: What is the Florida Wrongful Death Act?

A: Florida has a statute (Fla. Stat. 768.16 – 768.26) that allows the survivors or estate to file a suit against the entity or individual they believe holds responsibility for their loved one’s death. It defines the four-year statute of limitations, who may file a wrongful death lawsuit, damages that can be sought, and more.

Q: How do I determine if I should file a wrongful death claim?

A: As mentioned above, wrongful death cases can be very complex and, depending upon the circumstances, may involve multiple individuals, corporations, or other entities. Your best first step is to consult with an experienced attorney. At Dennis Hernandez & Associates, P.A., our wrongful death lawyers provide free, confidential initial consultations to review your case and help determine if filing a wrongful death claim is right for you and your family.

Schedule your free consultation today.

To get your no-obligation initial consultation with an expert wrongful death case attorney at Dennis Hernandez & Associates, contact us today by calling 813-250-0000 in Tampa or 941-210-0000 in Sarasota.

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