Losing your loved one is not easy. Death from accidents come as an unpleasant surprise, especially when one prematurely dies from another person’s negligence. Grief and resentment can be unbearable. If you feel that your loved one could still be alive were it not for negligence from the other party, you can file a wrongful death claim against the person responsible for the death.

To build a successful wrongful death claim, you will require legal guidance from Clay County Personal Injury Attorney. We serve clients throughout Clay County, FL, to ensure you receive maximum compensation for the wrongful death of your loved one.

Legal Definition of a Wrongful Death in Florida

It is always devastating when you lose your loved one in an accident. Wrongful death results from the negligence of one or multiple parties. The specifics of how an accident occurred is vital in a wrongful death lawsuit. Generally, wrongful death entails:

  • Another person caused an accident that resulted in the demise of your loved one
  • The person who caused the crash acted negligently and in disregard of the safety of others
  • Monetary compensation for the demise of your loved one

If your loved is killed in a negligent situation, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation. By submitting a wrongful death claim, you have a responsibility to show how the defendant’s death occurred. You must demonstrate that a person lost their life to confirm that your loved one suffered a wrongful death. Also, it should be clear that another person’s actions were negligent, deliberate, and intended to cause harm. The demise of a loved one can leave you financially devastated, especially when the deceased was a sole provider. Building a successful wrongful death claim can be the complicated ad you will require competent legal guidance.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

It can be devastating when someone dies in unexpected circumstances. If the deceased had a will, they would leave what they owed to their beneficiaries. After a wrongful death, these beneficiaries should be the first persons to file a wrongful death claim. A personal representative of the estate can file a lawsuit on behalf of the beneficiaries to get compensation for the wrongful death. When the deceased did not have a will, the court will appoint a representative for the beneficially.

The following are individuals allowed by the court to file a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • Minor children of the deceased. In Florida individuals under the age of 25 years will be considered minors for wrongful death claims
  • Surviving spouse
  • Adult children of the deceased when there is no surviving spouse or minor children. However, adult children will get a lesser amount of compensation as compared to minor children.
  • Parents of a deceased minor child who dies from negligence
  • Parents of adult children when there are no other survivors
  • Blood relatives who may have depended on the deceased

Sometimes it is possible to be excluded from having an interest in compensation when you deserve it. Therefore, it is essential to contact a competent personal injury attorney if you wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Causes of Wrongful Death 

Wrongful death can occur from any accident involving negligence. You must understand the kind of accident and situation under which your loved one died. Wrongful death can result from the following: 

Car Accidents

Car accidents are one of the leading causes of wrongful deaths in Florida. Most accidents occurred when the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Reckless and distracted driving is also an increasingly common cause of these accidents. Sometimes fatigue can cause a driver to lose control and hit the other vehicle or crash their vehicle. Car accidents may be single-vehicle accidents, a rear-end car collision, and head-on collision, among others. Depending on the type and severity of the accident, car accidents can lead to severe injuries and death.

When filing a wrongful death claim, you must establish where the fault lies. Sometimes the driver may not be at fault. A defective vehicle or poorly maintained roads can be a cause of the accident. Since many different factors affect a car accident, you should investigate the car accident when filing a wrongful death claim.

Nursing Home Abuse

In Florida, nursing homes are expected to provide the best care for the elderly. This helps them maintain their physical mental and psychological well being. Sometimes maltreatment, abuse, or neglect can cause death in a nursing home setting. When your loved one has died in such an environment, and you believe the death was uncalled for, you can file a wrongful death claim. Whether the death was caused by neglect or abuse will be determined by the injuries suffered by the deceased before they died. Medical reports made by a doctor who examined the deceased can be helpful when deciding what caused death. When a wrongful death results from neglect, you will want to get compensation from the liable party.

Motorcycle Accidents

Most motorcycle accidents result from knockdowns by speeding and recklessly driven cars. Since the impact from a motorcycle to the ground is direct, injuries from this type of accident are fatal. Drivers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of other motorists and road users. If your loved one dies from a negligent motorcycle accident, you can get compensation in a wrongful death claim. With the help of a personal injury attorney, you can review the accident scene and establish fault for the motorcycle accident.

Work Accidents

The death that occurs when one is at work is considered a wrongful death in Florida. Employers have a responsibility to ensure that employees working at for them do so in safe working conditions. Also, in industries where heavy machinery is used, protective measures should be taught. If your loved one dies in a work-related accident, you can file a wrongful death claim against their employer. Building a strong case in a work-related death can be complicated since the employer may try to refute the negligence claim. Therefore, it is crucial to seek legal representation to aid in collecting relevant evidence for the accident.

Medical Malpractice 

There are different ways in which medical malpractice can cause the death of your loved one. However, it is crucial to understand that not all mistakes made by medical practitioners will constitute medical malpractice. Medical malpractice can include:

  • Wrong prescriptions which could be overdose or wrong medications
  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, which leads to the treatment of the wrong illness. Sometimes one may even get surgeries they do not require and succumb to death in the process.
  • Improper administration of anesthesia
  • Neglect from the doctors

Some mistakes made by medical experts can be fatal. If your loved one succumbs to death as a result of medical malpractice, you can file a lawsuit and get compensation for the wrongful death. However, you will be required to prove the elements of negligence.

Building a Wrongful Death Claim

It can be devastating when your loved one dies out of negligence from another person. Sometimes the occurrences are too quick that you find it difficult to understand whose negligence caused the death. Fortunately, you can get the negligent person to take responsibility for their actions. By filing a wrongful death claim, you will be seeking compensation to help offset the losses incurred from the death of your loved one. To build a strong case, you will require assistance from an attorney. The following are things you need to do to build on your wrongful death lawsuit: 

Performing Research

When a wrongful death occurs, the deceased will not be preset to give an account of what happened. When you realize that the death of your loved one resulted from negligence, you should contact an attorney. Together you can perform some research by going back to the accident scene. Presenting a wrongful death case is not just filing the claim. There is a lot of research that needs to be done to ensure you have a strong case.

If there were witnesses in the accident, you could contact them so they can make a statement. These testimonies will help you understand how the accident occurred. Also, you can try and look for any photographic evidence or video that may have captured the occurrences. After performing the necessary research on how the death occurred, it is crucial to collect expert testimonies. An expert can analyze the events and determine whether the defendant acted negligently. Reliable expert testimony can help prove that the death of your loved one was wrongful.

Presenting Relevant Evidence

Most wrongful deaths result from negligence, disregard for safety, neglect, or even assault. Gathering the necessary elements to prove these facts is one of the most important factors when building a case. However, you have to understand how to present this evidence in court correctly. First, you need to show how the defendant’s negligence resulted in the death of your loved one.    

Proving Negligence in a Wrongful Death Claim

Negligence causes most wrongful deaths. When you file a wrongful death lawsuit for your loved one, you will be required to prove the defendant’s negligence. In most cases, negligence is the failure to use reasonable care like a reasonably careful person would do. To increase your chances of success in a wrongful death claim, you must prove the following elements of negligence:

  1. Duty of Care

A duty of care is the obligation to ensure you do not put other people in the way of injury or death. Every person has a duty towards the other person and is expected to act reasonably to avoid harming others. During the wrongful death claim, you need to show the duty of care the defendant owed the deceased. Determining the duty of care can be complicated since there is no written law on how each person needs to act. However, a personal injury attorney can help you figure out the duty of care.

  1. A Breach of Duty 

It is not enough to recognize the duty of care the defendant owed your loved one. You need to show that the duty was breached. A duty of care is breached when one acts in a way that puts other people in harm’s way, which include:

  • A driver speeding or driving under the influence of drugs
  • Employers failing to provide a safe working environment for employees
  • Caregivers failing to watch over an older person in a nursing home
  • A doctor made the wrong diagnosis for a patient.

Since your loved one is not there to testify on the defendant’s conduct, you can find out if any witnesses are willing to explain the occurrences. Depending on the credibility of these testimonies, you can be able to show how the breach of duty occurred.

  1. Causation

After proving breach of duty, you have shown that the defendant is liable for the accident. However, sometimes, they can argue that their actions were not a contributing factor to the death of your loved one. Your attorney must show how the defendant’s actions contributed to the death. Also, you cannot file a wrongful death claim unless death has occurred. Regardless of the severity of injuries suffered, death is the basis of filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

Florida is a pure comparative negligence state. Even when your loved one was partially at fault for the circumstances that caused their death, you can claim compensation. This will be done by showing the percentage of negligence of the defendant.

Proving an Intentional Wrongful Act

Even when your loved one died out of violet assault, you can file a wrongful death claim. This case will be handled separately from the criminal cases. However, evidence gathered in the criminal case may assist in providing an intentional act that caused death. Even when the defendant is not convicted in a criminal case, you can still get compensated in the lawsuit. This is because the burden of proof for civil cases is less than that of a criminal case. A wrongful death lawsuit requires you to prove the elements of negligence from the defendant. Acts of violence that caused wrongful death are often noticed in nursing homes where the elderly are fragile, and a single act of violence can cause death.

Showing the wrongful Act which Contributed to Death

There are different ways in which wrongful death occurs. It is not enough for you to show that the defendant was negligent and contributed to the accident. There are specific actions and moves made by the defendant that can contribute to the crash. In a successful wrongful death lawsuit, you are required to indicate the other party’s behavior or actions that may have led to the accident. Since the deceased cannot give an account of what happened, you may have to rely on testimony from witnesses who were at the scene. Also, experts may be at the scene to analyze and try to formulate an account of how the incident took place. Proving a wrongful act that contributed to the death of a loved one might be complicated, and you will require competent legal guidance to seek compensation from the at-fault party.

Proving Wrongful Death Damages

After you have established the negligence from the defendant or an intentional act, you need to provide sufficient proof of the damages you are seeking. You must prove the amount you are seeking as compensation is justified based on the losses you incurred from the death of your loved one. Some of the pieces of evidence you can present to explain the damages you are seeking include:

  • A testimony from financial experts who can estimate the amount lost as an inheritance from the deceased to their family
  • An analysis from occupational experts who will calculate the amount lost as income and earning capacity of the deceased
  • Financial records that prove other financial losses incurred by the family
  • Evidence showing how the quality of life of the family and dependents has changed as a result of the death
  • Testimony of psychologists regarding how the family of the deceased has been affected emotionally.

Proving the need to be compensated for non-economic losses can be difficult because you have to rely on testimonies from other people. It is crucial to have guidance from an attorney who can help you give substantial proof of why you deserve compensation. A successful lawsuit will see you get compensation for burial and funeral expenses. Also, you may get compensated for the pain and emotional suffering caused by losing your loved one.

Wrongful Death Case Frequently Asked Questions

Building a wrongful death case in Florida can be complicated since you will have to go back to the accident scene and collect information about the occurrences. The process of establishing a strong case will be more straightforward if a competent personal injury attorney guides you. The quests that are frequently asked regarding a wrongful death case in Florida include:

  1. What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in Florida?

The statute of limitations provides for the amount of time you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit after a negligent death of your loved one. In Florida, you can file a wrongful death within two years after the occurrence of wrongful death. However, the period stipulated in the statute of limitations may vary depending on how the death occurred and, which caused the death.

If the government of Florida caused the death, there are documents you need to obtain at least six months before filing the lawsuit. In this case, you may have three years to present your claim. As soon as you realize that the death of your loved e resulted from negligence, you should contact a personal injury attorney to guide you and ensure the protection of your rights.

  1. Is there a difference between a wrongful death claim for a deceased child and that of an adult?

Yes. The difference between wrongful death claims for a deceased adult and child is in the calculation of damages. When a child dies, the family may not suffer as much financial loss as that suffered when an adult dies. This is because young children do not contribute to the finances of the household. The beneficiaries and dependents of a deceased adult are likely to receive more compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit as compared to the parents of a minor child. A competent personal injury attorney can help you accrue maximum compensation benefits for the death of your loved one.

  1. How is compensation for a wrongful death lawsuit determined?

When determining the award, you will receive compensation in a wrongful death claim. The court will review different factors of the case. These factors include the evidence you present to prove negligence from the other party. Also, the evidence presented by the defendant in their defense will be analyzed to determine credibility. Since one cannot put a price on the lost life of your loved one, the court determines how much damages should be awarded and the amount you will receive.

Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

Getting stuck with an uncalled-for death in the family can be devastating. A death resulting from negligence can leave you stranded without knowing what to do. Even when you are grieving the demise of your loved one, it is vital to take necessary steps for holding the responsible party accountable for the wrongful death. By filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you can obtain compensation from the individual responsible for the death. Although the payment you get will not bring back your loved one, it may help you pay for funeral and burial expenses.

If you are seeking legal guidance in the wrongful death claim, it would be wise to contact an attorney from the Clay County Personal Injury Attorney. Call us today at 904-494-8242 from any location in Clay County, FL, and allow us to guide you and represent you in a wrongful death case.