Claiming compensation after a wrongful death of a relative or a loved one can be hard. It requires several legal procedures that you cannot manage to handle all alone. If you are injured, hiring a personal injury attorney would be the best consideration. Clay County Personal Injury offers the best legal services to anyone living within Interlachen, Putnam County, Fl, that would like to claim compensation in wrongful death.

Definition of a Wrongful Death Claim

A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit in which a family member sues the at-fault party and holds them accountable for all their negligence that led to the death of their loved one. This falls under Florida Statute 768.19, which states that when a person dies due to the wrongful act, negligence, default of warranty or contract, his or her estate can bring the case to court. Under this statute, the following elements must be considered when bringing a cause of action in wrongful death.

  • The conduct was brought out of a wrongful act, breach or default of a warranty or contract
  • The action upon which the lawsuit is based on must-have led to the death of the decedent, and
  • The conduct must have led to the injuries of the deceased and could have maintained a cause of action if the respective dead had not died

Wrongful Death Cases

A wrongful death suit may arise in different situations. These situations are as follows:

Car Accidents

Car accidents are the most common cause of deaths that lead to wrongful death claims. In Florida, there are various car accident deaths reported every year. The majority of the deaths resulting from car accidents result from driver's negligence. Some of the aspects that portray driver's negligence include speeding, failing to pay attention to the road, and other reasons. If any of these factors apply, the negligent driver leads to the death of other drivers and the passengers.

If the accident results from road issues, the city or state should be held responsible for the wrongful death. There are also other situations where car accident death results from the car manufacturer, supplier, or maintenance company.

Medical Malpractice

Although medical experts are highly skilled, they can still make mistakes that can lead to grave injuries. These mistakes usually result from the failure to observe the procedures that have been set forth or missing something essential in their practice.

In medical malpractice, most wrongful death results from misdiagnosis of a condition, errors during surgery or medication, and treating the wrong conditions. In such a situation, a couple of professionals are held responsible. Your Interlachen personal injury attorney will evaluate the circumstances surrounding your medical malpractice and establish who's accountable for the wrongful death of your loved one.

Work Accidents

There are specific occupations that are at a high risk of accidents, such as construction and manual labor. In such professions, there are chances of high fatalities, and a wrongful death might occur at any time. It does not matter where one is working as long as the working condition is dangerous. One instance that explains an office worker experiencing a work accident is an overworked nurse and incur an accident while on the way home due to overworking.

In such a situation, the person who is directly associated with the employment of your loved one should be held responsible for the wrongful death.

Defective Products

There are numerous cases of wrongful death as a result of faulty products. Such a situation results from products that are common in society. That's why you will find various manufacturers spending most of their resources testing and ensuring that their products are safe for their consumers since they are usually responsible for the deaths. Most deaths involve pharmaceutical products, defective automobiles, toxic foods, and unsafe products intended for children's usage.

Pedestrian Accident

There is a high possibility of incurring fatalities in accidents that involve pedestrians since they have minimal protection. Most pedestrian deaths result from driver's negligence, although sometimes the city or county might be responsible for the deaths. Your Interlachen personal injury attorney should be able to establish liability in such an accident and ensure that the party compensates you for the demise of your loved one.

Aviation Accident

It is rare to experience aviation accidents, but when they occur, they cause several fatalities. In most cases, aviation accidents occur due to mechanical issues and pilot issues. If the accident resulted from mechanical issues, the aviation firm or the airplane manufacturer is usually held accountable for the problem. If the accident occurs due to errors of the pilot, the pilot is held responsible for the wrongful death.

People Who are Allowed to Wrongful Death Claim in Florida

Most states permit a specific family member to bring wrongful death claims. However, Florida is not one of such states. It only considers a representative of the deceased's estate, and the deceased is mandated to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the close members designated for the compensation.

The person who is responsible for the execution of the wrongful death claim is usually named in the will that was left behind by the wrongful death victim. If one died without leaving behind a will, an executor is named by the court and will serve to represent the victim's estate.

Under the Wrongful Death Act of Florida, a surviving family member who the representative can claim the damage on behalf are:

All Spouses of All Time

Spouses are usually entitled to recover damages for the loss of services and support, loss of protection, companionship, and mental pain and suffering.

All Minor Children

All children under the age of twenty-five have the entitlement to recover to damages and the loss of support, guidance, instruction, protection, and mental pain and suffering.

Adult Children if there is no Spouse (Except medical malpractice)

Adults above the age of twenty-five have the entitlement to recover damages for loss of parental companionship, services, support, guidance, and mental pain and anguish.

Parent of a Deceased Minor Child

Parents of a minor child below the age of twenty-five have the entitlement to recover damages for mental pain and anguish.

Adopted Children

Children who have no natural relationship with the decedent by blood are also part of the beneficiaries entitled to recover damages in a wrongful death case. However, they have to be legally adopted before the death of the decedent to recover any damages. This means that a child who was raised by the decedent but has no legal adoption has no entitlement for the recovery of the damages for their loss of parental companionship, support, guidance, mental pain, and anguish.

Other people are not entitled to wrongful death beneficiaries under the Florida Wrongful Death Act. Most of these people are usually confused as the beneficiary since they are close to the wrongful death victim. In Florida, the following people are not entitled to wrongful death benefits.

  • Brothers
  • Sisters
  • Nieces
  • Nephews
  • Cousins, and
  • Other blood relatives

These family members can be entitled to compensation as long as they were financially dependent on the decedent. However, this is quite rare and requires your Interlachen personal injury attorney to prove your dependency on the decedent to ensure your compensation.

Damages That Are Pursued in Wrongful Death Claim

When a wrongful death claim is brought in a civil court, it is solely resolved through monetary means. Everything related to the awarding of damages in wrongful death is outlined in Florida Statutes Section 768.21.

Damages in a wrongful death are split into two parts, which means that the survivors can recover as well as the estate. The estate is a shell that operates as its entity and can recover:

  • The net accumulation
  • Lost earnings
  • Medical and funeral expenses

On the other hand, the survivors can retrieve the following damages:

  • Loss of assistance and services
  • Loss of companionship, instruction, protection, and guidance
  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical and burial expenses incurred by the survivors

Let's have a closer look at the kind of damages that are recoverable in wrongful death.

Loss of Support and Services

Every survivor can recover the support and services since the death of the decedent and future loss of support and assistance. With reference to the statute, support is defined as the contribution made in kind and money, meaning a loss of contribution of property and money. On the other hand, services are defined as the task which is usually household in nature that the decedent regularly catered for the survivors.

When the court is evaluating support and service, it might consider the following:

  • The relationship between the decedent and the related parties. The court usually checks whether the relationship was strong or estranged and whether the decedent was the actual helper in providing the services
  • Whether the amount earned by the decedent had a provision for the services needed by the survivor
  • Whether the replacement value of the services offered by the decedent would afford to hire a nanny to take care of the young children. If the decedent would afford to hire a nanny, the court will determine how much he or she would pay for the services, and if they would pay for the overtime.

Funeral Expenses

When it comes to funeral expenses, there are several considerations that should be made. The court usually checks for a reasonable cost associated with the funeral and burial of your loved one. Some of the expenses that can be considered include:

  • The cost of announcing his or her demise in the local obituary column
  • The cost of producing the death certificate that verifies the passing of your loved one with the insurance company, banks, and other related institution
  • The expense to cremate your loved one if that's your choice
  • The expenses incurred while buying the urn or casket
  • The fee used in funeral home services
  • The costs used in hiring a minister to handle the burial
  • The cost of the headstone depending on the local price

Depending on the information provided above, there are several types of funerals that survivors can decide to hold for a loved one. These include:

  • A traditional full-service funeral, which includes viewing of the body, hearse transportation, and the actual burial, funeral, or cremation. This is usually the most expensive funeral.
  • Direct burial, which involves burying the body soon after the demise of the loved one. The funeral is done in a small container, and there is no viewing or visitation. The family can choose a memorial service, which is done at the graveside
  • Direct cremation, which involves cremation of the body shortly after death, and there is no embalming considered. The cremation remains are either kept in an urn or container, buried, or scattered.

Pain and Suffering in Wrongful Death

Pain and suffering stand as one of the damages that one can recover in a wrongful death case. In such a case, the surviving member usually claims the pain and suffering that their loved one endured before his or her demise, whether it was immediately or not.

This kind of damage is quite hard to calculate and put a monetary value on the cost. It can be extended to a person's mental health after the physical injuries have healed. In such a case, this can lead to emotional issues like anxiety, anger, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages, whether in the context of standard injury case or wrongful death is meant to punish the defendant from his or her egregious behavior.  Punitive damages are awarded as multiple of the amount of the compensatory damages, which increases the liability of the defendant.

In most cases, punitive damages are about three to five times the total cost of the compensatory damages. However, to convince the court that one should be awarded punitive damage, one must prove that the defendant was guilty of gross negligence or intentional misconduct.

Find an Interlachen Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

Wrongful death cases are both tiring and devastating. It requires various legal considerations to ensure that all the relevant survivors get compensated for the damages incurred. One cannot achieve such an expectation without the involvement of a professional personal injury attorney. Clay County Personal injury Attorney offers credible legal advice to anyone seeking compensation after the wrongful death of a loved one. For those living within  Interlachen, reach out to us at 904-494-8242 and let us help you.