Death Lawyers

The emotional pain caused by the loss of a loved one cannot be compensated for by money. However, bringing a wrongful death claim may be helpful if the loss of a loved one could have been prevented. It can allow a family to address their own grievances and emotional needs without worrying about future financial responsibilities like hospital expenses or lost wages.

Most wrongful death lawsuits are the result of someone acting carelessly or negligently, which results in the loss of life. A wrongful death claim may be the outcome of a number of various irresponsible behaviors or actions. Contact the wrongful death lawyers Howell & Thornhill immediately if you have lost a family one unexpectedly as a result of someone else’s carelessness, negligence, or bad choices.

What is a Wrongful Death Attorney?

A wrongful death attorney represents families who have lost a loved one as a result of another party’s negligence or wrongful behavior in civil cases. Wrongful death lawyers can assist your family in pursuing financial compensation from the negligent parties for the losses you have endured. Additionally, wrongful death attorneys have experience with varying types of personal injury cases, including premise liability, auto accidents, bicycle accidents, malpractice, and many more.

Experienced wrongful death attorneys can support their clients through every step of the procedure to ensure that they receive just compensation. Obtaining justice for the victim is of utmost importance to any family who has lost a loved one due to wrongful death, according to wrongful death attorneys. It is crucial to have an experienced lawyer who is familiar with the rules because wrongful death cases can be complex.

Why Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney?

You can get assistance from a wrongful death attorney who can explain what a wrongful death claim is and show you the right way to file a lawsuit. They can also help in deciding the best course of action, whether it be through the court system or through discussions for a settlement outside of court. A skilled lawyer will always collaborate with their client to get the desired outcomes using the strategies that work best for them.

The victim’s surviving spouse, children, parents, or other family members have the right to seek damages in a wrongful death case in order to obtain monetary compensation for the losses they have endured as a result of the victim’s unjust death. By handling the entire legal process on your behalf, an attorney will free up your time to dedicate to family.

Overview of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Wrongful death in Florida is defined as “when a person’s death is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty.” In these situations, the estate of the deceased person may bring a civil lawsuit against the responsible party to seek monetary damages.

If a loved one passed away as a result of another person’s negligence, such as due to drunk driving, distracted driving, a semi-truck accident, medical malpractice, a defective product, burns, or any other form of negligence on their part, then a wrongful death claim may be made. Florida law restricts who can make a wrongful death claim in certain instances.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit filed in a civil court by dependents and family members against those who intentionally or carelessly causes the death of another person. The defendant in wrongful death claims frequently has criminal accusations pending against them as well. Both of these charges may be filed concurrently, and parties are not required to wait for the outcome of the criminal case before filing the wrongful death claim.

Wrongful death lawsuits may be brought when a victim who may have rightfully brought a personal injury claim against another party passes away as a result of the defendant’s negligent behavior. It might be challenging to fulfill the burden of proof in a wrongful death claim. Your wrongful death attorney will need to gather proof of the claim’s elements, most likely negligence.

The surviving family members of a person who passes away or is killed as a result of another’s carelessness or crime may file a “wrongful death” claim. In these circumstances, compensation is sought for the losses suffered by the remaining parties, such as the deceased’s lost wages, companionship, and burial costs.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Only the estate’s personal representative is authorized by law to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in the state of Florida. In the absence of a will or estate plan, the personal representative may be appointed after death. The personal representative may also be chosen during a person’s lifetime and specified in a will or estate plan.

Although the personal representative files the wrongful death action, any award from the claim is distributed to the victim’s estate for the benefit of their surviving family members and dependents. Every survivor with a stake in the case and the potential to legitimately pursue damages must be listed when the claim is made by the personal representative. The recovery may go directly to survivors after any necessary judicial approval or become part of the decedent’s estate and distributed in accordance with Florida inheritance laws, making sure that the closest relatives are taken care of in all respects.

Florida Statute 768.21 lists the situations on when a person may claim damages in a wrongful death claim:

  • (1) Each survivor may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to her or his death, with interest, and future loss of support and services from the date of death and reduced to present value. In evaluating loss of support and services, the survivor’s relationship to the decedent, the amount of the decedent’s probable net income available for distribution to the particular survivor, and the replacement value of the decedent’s services to the survivor may be considered. In computing the duration of future losses, the joint life expectancies of the survivor and the decedent and the period of minority, in the case of healthy minor children, may be considered.
  • (2) The surviving spouse may also recover for loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.
  • (3) Minor children of the decedent, and all children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse, may also recover for lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury. For the purposes of this subsection, if both spouses die within 30 days of one another as a result of the same wrongful act or series of acts arising out of the same incident, each spouse is considered to have been predeceased by the other.
  • (4) Each parent of a deceased minor child may also recover for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury. Each parent of an adult child may also recover for mental pain and suffering if there are no other survivors.
  • (5) Medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent’s injury or death may be recovered by a survivor who has paid them.
  • (6) The decedent’s personal representative may recover for the decedent’s estate the following:
    • (a) Loss of earnings of the deceased from the date of injury to the date of death, less lost support of survivors excluding contributions in kind, with interest. Loss of the prospective net accumulations of an estate, which might reasonably have been expected but for the wrongful death, reduced to present money value, may also be recovered:
    • 1. If the decedent’s survivors include a surviving spouse or lineal descendants; or 2. If the decedent is not a minor child as defined in s. 768.18(2), there are no lost support and services recoverable under subsection (1), and there is a surviving parent.
    • (b) Medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent’s injury or death that have become a charge against her or his estate or that were paid by or on behalf of decedent, excluding amounts recoverable under subsection (5).


Family Members Who Can Collect Damages from a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Family members who are entitled to compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit are referred to as survivors. Only a select group of relatives, such as the victim’s spouse, children, parents, and dependent family members are deemed survivors in a Florida wrongful death case. The wrongful death laws of Florida allow survivors to receive compensation for their own individual losses associated with the death of a loved one. These losses could be in the form of pain and suffering, loss of support and services, loss of net accumulations to the estate, and funderal costs that are caused by the untimely death of the loved one. See Florida Statute 768.21, listed above, for the situations in which a claim exists.

Florida Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims

The statute of limitations (time allowed to bring a lawsuit) for all personal injury cases, not including wrongful death, is now two years. The two-year statute of limitations in Florida for injury cases begins on the date of the accident, slip and fall, or other occurrence that caused the injuries. Close family members, however, have just two years from the date of the death to make a claim for compensation when someone’s negligence causes death.

If a government agency is to blame for the death, a new process and unique filing requirements apply. A certified letter with certain notice formalities must be completed prior to bringing the lawsuit..

Bringing a Successful Wrongful Death Lawsuit

To increase the chances of winning a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff must adhere to the requirement under the law. Understanding Florida’s definition of wrongful death is crucial before

digging into the legal ramifications of a lawsuit. Florida’s wrongful death laws allow you to sue someone for damages if their negligent behavior, recklessness, or default (failure to perform an obligation) led to the death of a family member.

The most frequent grounds for action in a wrongful death claim are negligence and unlawful conduct. In either scenario, it is the onus of the party asserting the claim to establish each element with a preponderance of the evidence. You must convince the jury, in other words, that the defendant is almost certainly to blame for your loved one’s passing. In contrast to the criminal “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, the standard in a wrongful death lawsuit is that it is more likely than not that the defendant was negligent and caused the death.

Establishing Negligence in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The most frequent legal justification for wrongful death is negligence. The responsibility is on the plaintiff to establish each of the four criteria of negligence:

1. Duty of Care

2. Breach in duty

3. Causation

4. Damages

To demonstrate negligence for a wrongful death, each component of negligence must be proven. In order to establish a duty of care, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant has a rule to obey, namely act reasonably in that circumstance toward the safety of others.

Once a duty of care has been correctly established, the plaintiff must then prove that the defendant violated it in some way, such as by driving while distracted or intoxicated or failing to secure a workplace. The plaintiff will need to demonstrate that the stated breach was more likely than not the reason for the tragedy after establishing that there existed a duty and that duty was broken.

In all wrongful death instances, there must also be some kind of injury that will result in a fatality. Every claim for wrongful death revolves around a deadly accident of some sort.

Examples of a Wrongful Death Claim

Every accident is unique, and every legal case is distinctive in some manner. There are a number of situations in which a wrongful death claim may be appropriate, and specific factors in your case may make it more successful than another claim of a similar nature. Some of the most frequent wrongful death case types are the ones listed below.

Automobile Accidents

A number of factors, such as the recklessness or negligence of another driver or even an automaker’s manufacturing defect, can lead to wrongful death in an automobile accident. Accidents continue to happen despite the wealth of information regarding careless or risky driving. The loved ones of the deceased may be entitled to compensation for that wrongful death when one person’s actions result in the death of another.

Bicycle Accidents

For a death on a bicycle to be deemed wrongful, it must be the result of someone else’s negligence. The driver is frequently at fault, killing someone as a result of speeding, being distracted or texting while

driving, being intoxicated, or breaking other rules. If the driver was operating a commercial vehicle or was at work when the bicycle accident occurred, their employer might also be held accountable.

Pedestrian Accidents

Accidents involving pedestrians sometimes involve a distracted driver and result in serious injuries, but many of these circumstances can swiftly turn fatal. In order to obtain compensation for the remaining dependents, the surviving family must demonstrate that the other party is to blame for the death.

Premise Liability

A claim for wrongful death may be covered by premises liability rules if there is proof that the property owner’s carelessness contributed to the death. When a person is killed due to avoidable circumstances that a property owner neglected to remedy, it is wrongful death.

Depending on the person’s status on the property, the owner has a particular duty of care. The highest duty of care is owed by a store owner to its patrons, who must correct any flaws in the building, look out for any potential hazards, and alert patrons to them.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim

In successful wrongful death litigation, the court orders the defendant to pay “damages”—or the plaintiff’s alleged losses—to the deceased person’s survivors or estate. Depending on the specifics of the case, many types of damages may be awarded in Florida. Nevertheless, the court will determine the amount based on a number of categories of losses. See Florida Statute 768.21, listed above, for the situations in which a claim exists.

Funeral and burial expenses are recoverable as damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Additionally, the lost support and services that the decedent would have provided to a spouse or child are a recoverable damage. Most significantly, the pain and suffering of the spouse or child can also be reimbursed. A decedent often would have grown their savings, or net accumulations in the estate. This damage is also recoverable in certain circumstances in Florida.

Damages in Florida Wrongful Death Claims

Economic damages in wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits are uncapped in Florida and include lost wages, support, services, and medical and burial costs. Pain and suffering damages are also unlimited. However, as a practical matter, limited insurance can make it tough to recover all damages from a defendant.

Approval of Settlement Florida Wrongful Death Claim

Unless the “survivors” as defined by Florida Statute 768.21 all agree to the settlement and the survivors do not include a minor, then the Court must approve the settlement. Florida Statute 768.25 provides:

While an action under this act is pending, no settlement as to amount or apportionment among the beneficiaries which is objected to by any survivor or which affects a survivor who is a minor or an incompetent shall be effective unless approved by the court.

Wrongful Death Statistics It is estimated by the CDC that there are about 200,000 accidental or unintentional fatalities in the United States each year. In the US, unintentional deaths are now the fourth most common cause of death. Roughly 40,000 of these were caused by auto accidents.

The number of personal injury lawsuits filed annually ranges from 200,000 to 400,000, according to data from the U.S. courts. An estimated 4-8% of all personal injury suits among them are thought to involve wrongful death. Typically, auto accidents are the leading cause of wrongful death or personal injury claims.

Hiring a Florida Wrongful Death Law Firm

In most wrongful death cases, a full investigation is required, and lawyers must look over and evaluate the entire case. A thorough investigation of the incident and its supporting documentation, as well as record evaluation, collecting, and trial or lawsuit preparation, are all part of a wrongful death claim. In order to try and resolve the litigation outside of court, attorneys can also conduct conversations with other parties and assist in discussing the claim with insurance adjusters.

To be successful through this process, a knowledgeable attorney is necessary. The Wrongful death attorneys at Howell & Thornhill are here for every client. Howell & Thornhill’s team of expert trial lawyers are available to provide you with a confidential and free consultation at a location convenient for you. Contact us today at (800) 992-0492 so that we can provide you with immediate assistance.