It is a painful situation when the life of a loved one is cut short unexpectedly, either through negligence or recklessness. The close family grieves and mourns in pain, and the only thing that can relieve their pain is justice. The distress of losing a life is incomparable and requires compensation via filing a claim. Filing a lawsuit may help the victim's family to recover the damages caused. If you are looking for an attorney to represent your family after a wrongful death in East Palatka, Clay County Personal Injury Attorney has your back. We understand the agony, suffering, and emotional distress of losing a family member too soon. Our compassionate attorneys will support your family through the wrongful death lawsuit. More importantly, we will ensure that you have your peace of mind for the future.
What is Wrongful Death Under State Law
The phrase Wrongful death is a legal term that refers to death caused by another person's fault. Different incidences can lead to wrongful death, such as car accidents, medical malpractice, negligence, criminal activity, or catastrophic injury. The family of the deceased, who is also known as real parties in interest, sues the negligent parties. They file a lawsuit claim to recover the damages caused as a result of death.
An attorney can make a wrongful death claim if the deceased would have been entitled to damages had he survived the incident. The attorney recovers both economic and non-economic costs to distribute to the eligible family. Economic damages include funeral and medical expenses, household services, loss of income and support, loss of inheritance prospect, and loss of parental guidance for the minor kids of the deceased. Non-economic damages to be recovered include pain and suffering.
Proving a wrongful death poses a significant challenge. If an attorney fails to meet one of the crucial elements, it could lead to the claim being dismissed. Hence, you require a seasoned wrongful death East Palatka personal injury attorney to ensure your claim includes all the necessary components.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
For your attorney to bring a successful wrongful death lawsuit in court, specific components must be met. The following elements that must be proved:
- The individual's death occurrence
- The death was caused to harm the deceased, or it was someone's negligence
- The surviving family members are suffering as a result of the deceased's death
- A personal representative has been appointed for decedent's estate.
Once the elements have been established, a personal representative is appointed. The appointed person identifies the victim's family survivors and any financial obligation outstanding. After that, a wrongful death claim is initiated.
Common Types Of Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful deaths arise in different situations. Examples of the most common ones include:
1. Defective or Mislabeled products
The manufacturers should produce and distribute well-labeled products to the public. They should also express potential dangers and hazards to the products to create awareness for the consumers. Failure to do so, they would be held accountable if someone dies out of using their products.
2. Car Accidents
Most wrongful deaths are related to car accidents. The accidents could be as a result of reckless driving, road defects, auto defects, speeding, or drunk driving. The family members are left suffering from the loss of income and struggle with medical bills.
3. Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice may occur when a physician or a health worker prescribes medication without consulting the pre-existing patient condition leading to the death of the patient. The physician is held responsible for providing the wrong medication.
4. Workplace Accidents
The employers have to take care of the employees' safety while working. The employer should train the employees on safety measures while handling certain products. Failure to comply through the workers' compensation system, the victim's family can file a lawsuit.
5. Motorcycle Accidents
Some drivers fail to notice the motorcycle drivers, thus causing the accident. Most accidents occur when motorcycles collide or due to road defects. They need legal help as the drivers' insurances do not cover some of the injuries. The victims may suffer from brain injury, spinal cord injuries, back and neck injuries, paralysis, and broken bones.
Compensation for The Damages Caused in a Wrongful Death
Wrongful death damages are measured according to financial or pecuniary losses. Pecuniary losses cover the financial loss of the deceased and the surviving family. The damages include loss of support, service, medical and funeral services, and lost prospect of inheritance. The law states that wrongful death recovery should be fair and just and should cover the pecuniary injuries that were a result of the deceased death.
Damages are typically found in two main groups. The two categories are separated into two different time frames. The first one explains that damages compensation should begin from the date when the negligent act happened. For example, if the action that resulted in the wrongful death were medical malpractice, the damages would cover from the time of the medication to the demise. Even if the death occurred days later after the incident, damages should be counted from that point. The surviving family gets to be compensated on medical expenses, pain and suffering of the victim, lost wages, and funeral and burial expenses upon the demise.
The second group is when the family claims compensation they incur after the wrongful death. This means that the family would be compensated for the costs they have suffered because of the death of their loved one. In Clay County, the law states that the damages are to replace the income the deceased would have gotten if the incident did not happen. The compensation also includes the wages that the victim would have earned until retirement if they were alive.
If the deceased left behind children and a spouse, the family has the right to sue for the lost consortium. This is the compensation for companionship and love deprivation. It would be vital because the dependents could no longer enjoy the fellowship and guidance the deceased offered.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Usually, a wrongful death claim is filed by a relative of the deceased victim on behalf of the survivors whom he or she had a relationship with. Statute 768.19 states that if a person dies because of a wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract, the deceased estate may file a lawsuit. The court considers the spouse, children, and parents of the deceased. They are the people who are also eligible for the compensation of the damages.
The spouse suffers trauma when their married partner suffers a wrongful death. Apart from lost companionship, the spouse also loses income and finances if the victim was the breadwinner. Children can claim for support and comfort that they lose after the death of their parents. This claim only applies to minor children and not adults. The parents can also file for a wrongful death claim if the victim was a minor. They get compensated for emotional trauma and companionship.
The surviving family, in some cases, would be harder to file a claim due to the distant relationship. Generally, the more distant family relationship with the deceased is, the more difficult it is to file a claim. Thus, you need an East Palatka Personal Injury Attorney to help you get legal remedy through a wrongful death case.
Steps To Follow When Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In Florida, the statute of limitations that regulates a time limit for a person to file a suit legally is stipulated in section 95.11(4)(d). The filing for the wrongful death must be done within two years from the death date. If the two years elapses, all the legal rights in regards to filing the death suit are distinguished. However, some circumstances can lead to postponements. When a loved one passes away due to recklessness, there's a process that you should follow. These processes are:
1. Contacting a Skilled Attorney
Get in touch with an East Palatka Personal Injury Attorney and provide all the required details regarding your loved one’s death. Do not underestimate any information, give it all. Having a list of witnesses willing to talk in your case would be better. Give the attorney their contacts and addresses.
2. Carrying Out Investigations
Our attorney will carry out the investigations into the wrongful death. They will hold meetings with the witnesses, evaluate medical records from medical practitioners, and take an autopsy report. The attorney will also seek clarification from relevant parties like police officers or even you if any question arises.
3. File a Wrongful Death Suit
Once the attorney gains enough evidence, he would file a suit and notify the defendant of the allegations against them. The process is referred to as the service of process. The attorney should advise you where your lawsuit would be filed because there are courts that lack jurisdiction over the claims and cannot establish judgment regarding the case. It happens due to the principle of sovereignty that controls the courts' authority in decision making.
4. Discovery Process
The Discovery process happens when both sides, that is, the victims and defendants, request information from each other. If the defendant is reluctant to give out the information, the court intervenes. In some cases, the attorney requests for protection of privileged information. The process is to help both the victim and the defendant to prepare their arguments to avoid surprises.
5. Trial Process
After the discovery process, the trial process starts. The time taken in the trial process depends on the case complexity and jury availability. It is in this process that both sides present their shreds of evidence and cross-examine each other witnesses.
6. Court's Verdict
After each side has presented their case, the jury makes a judgment. There is room for appeal in this process if either party is dissatisfied with the decision.
The process might not reach the last process if various variables rise. A case can be halted if there is a piece of conclusive evidence, and the jury decides to commence the case and possess the legal question. This process is referred to as a motion for summary judgment. Keep in mind this is a civil case as opposed to a criminal case. Hence, no much evidence is required, but the evidence tabled must be credible. The court conducts a special hearing in case a minor is involved and appoints a guardian ad litem to prove the settlement.
Considering the emotions that accompany these cases, the plaintiff or defendant, may ask for a mediation outside the court. Upon reaching an agreement, the attorney engages the defendant's and settles the case. Remember, all you need is justice, and so if mediation flops, let your attorney file the claim in court.
What Must Be Proven
In most of the wrongful deaths, the issue of negligence must be proven to get awarded compensation successfully. The cause of the accident may be apparent, but the big challenge is getting the appropriate compensation. The key elements of negligence claim include breach of duty, the duty of care, damages, and causation.
Therefore, for you to hold the defendant accountable for the wrongful death, you must meet the same burden of proof the victim would have met if he or she survived the accident. So if the death was due to negligence, the defendant must have:
- Owed a duty of care to the victim,
- Breached the duty,
- The breach of duty must have been direct and intended to cause damages to the victim,
- Caused the death and the damages that the victim is trying to recover
Find an East Palatka Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you have lost a loved one due to a deliberate or malicious act of another person, you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Justice must prevail to heal your loss. You must speak with our experienced East Palatka Personal Injury Attorney to understand your options and have your doubts cleared fully. Our attorneys will assist you in filing your claim compassionately and professionally using every resource at our disposal. Do not hesitate, contact us at the Clay County Personal Injury Attorney at 904-494-8242 to protect your rights at every turn.