Wrongful Death Lawsuits: 5 Things To Know
The death of a loved one usually comes with grief and pain. The pain is often much gravitating when such death is caused by another person or due to negligence. In seeking justice for the death of a loved one, you need to contact a professional attorney. Qualified legal experts like Sarasota wrongful death attorney can help you discuss the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death and how they can help you. Before scheduling an appointment with a law firm, you should know what a wrongful death is and important facts about such cases. Find below the information you need.
What is wrongful death?
Wrongful death is an umbrella term used to describe the many types of death caused by another person’s negligence or direct act. To simplify such cases, the deceased may most likely have remained alive without the other party’s negligence or direct act. There are many different wrongful death cases, some caused by medical negligence, others nursing home abuse, car accidents, or others.
Every state has its wrongful death law and how such matters are treated. The aggrieved party needs to be aware of such laws and remain guided in order to pursue their claims to a logical conclusion.
It is important to state that wrongful death cases are different from manslaughter, homicides, or murder cases. Wrongful death cases are often treated in a civil court. They aim to compensate the affected persons, not punish the defendant for breaking the law. You should consult your attorney carefully to determine what you wish to achieve and how to approach it.
Things To Know About Wrongful Death Claims
If you have decided to pursue a wrongful death claim, below is some important information you need to know about handling the case.
Surviving Family Members Don’t File the Claim
If you live in Florida, it is important to know that no surviving member of the deceased’s family can file a wrongful death lawsuit. To initiate a wrongful death lawsuit, only the deceased’s personal representative is allowed to take action. Please note that the personal representative of the deceased’s estate may or may not belong to the deceased’s family.
Families who wish to file a wrongful death claim are advised to contact the deceased’s estate representative to discuss their wish and the chances of initiating the lawsuit. In the absence of actions taken by this authorized person, no wrongful death claims can be initiated or will be entertained.
In instances where the deceased did not get their affairs in order before death, the court will usually appoint the deceased’s surviving wife as their personal representative. Through such court rulings, the power to file a wrongful death claim has been vested in the partner, making them eligible to pursue compensation for the wrongful demise of their loved one.
If the deceased person doesn’t have a surviving spouse or the surviving spouse declines the authority, it may be shifted to another chosen representative by a majority vote.
Not all Family Members Are Entitled to Compensation
When a person has died due to another person’s negligence or wrongdoing, not all family members may be eligible to benefit from the compensation paid. Certain family members of the deceased are precluded from sharing the proceeds of the wrongful death claim. Those eligible and entitled to compensation include the deceased’s spouse, parents, and children. Other family members, whether nuclear or extended, may not partake of the compensation. All adopted siblings who financially depended on the deceased until their death may also be allowed access to the compensation paid as support for their loss.
Surviving Family Members Can Demand Damages
Although not all family members of the deceased can partake of the compensation paid for the wrongful death of their loved one, they may be able to share in the damages. Damages, in this case, are the sum of money awarded by law to the deceased’s family due to the defendant’s breach of duty or negligence.
The loss of a loved one may cause great financial hardship to many, especially those who directly depend on the deceased for support. The damage awarded is intended to compensate for the loss of support to affected family members. Some of the damages that may be awarded in a wrongful death case include compensation for;
- Loss of companionship and protection
- Loss of support and services provided by the deceased to family members
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses
- Mental anguish and suffering
- Loss of parental guidance, companionship, and instructions
- The deceased’s estate may also receive other types of damages, including damages equal to the lost earnings the deceased may have received, were they alive.
Wrongful Death Cases Requires Proving The Elements of Fault
It is not just enough for a family to claim the death of their loved one was due to another’s negligence; they must be able to prove it. For a wrongful death case to stand a chance, the plaintiffs must be able to prove fault. Fault, in this case, refers to the direct relationship between the defendant and the deceased’s death. The important elements required to prove a wrongful death case in Florida include;
- The defendant owed a legal duty of care to the decedent
- The defendant breached their duty of care to the decedent
- The decedent lost their life due to the defendant’s breach
- The decedent’s death caused suffering to the deceased’s estate and beneficiaries.
Wrongful Death Claims are Time-Bound
As with most personal injury cases, families who have lost their loved ones must know the statute of limitations for filing wrongful death claims. In Florida, beneficiaries and estate representatives have two years before their statute of limitations expires. This means they have to act fast, within the stipulated time, or forfeit the chance to claim compensation for their loved ones’ death.
It is important to seek out experienced wrongful death attorneys with a track record of successful cases when approaching such a complex case as this. Some of these lawyers offer free consultations at the start of the case, allowing you to get as much legal advice as possible while deciding on the best attorney for your case. If you’re looking for more information about wrongful death cases, visit https://halelaw.com/sarasota-personal-injury-attorney/wrongful-death/
2803 Fruitville Road Suite 240 Sarasota FL 34237,