Losing someone you love is the most difficult thing you can experience. Knowing that your loved one’s death could have been avoided can make the healing process that much harder. At Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A., we understand what you and your family are going through, and we want to help.
If you believe that someone else’s negligent or wrongful conduct is what led to your loved one’s death, we invite you to reach out to our firm right away. You deserve justice, and our Florida wrongful death attorneys can help you fight for a fair recovery. While no amount of compensation can ever make up for your loss, a fair settlement or verdict can provide you with the ability to manage unexpected financial challenges and allow you to heal.
What Is Wrongful Death Under Florida Law?
Florida law defines “wrongful death” as the death of a human being caused by another person or party’s “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty.” Generally speaking, if the person who died (known as the “decedent”) would have had grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit had they lived, their death is considered “wrongful.”
Wrongful death cases arise from all types of incidents, including but not limited to:
- Car, truck, motorcycle, bus, and other vehicle accidents
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
- Boating and personal watercraft accidents
- Aviation accidents, including private and commercial plane crashes
- Train and other mass transportation accidents
- Medical malpractice and/or negligence
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Serious falls, including fatal slip and fall accidents
- Dog bites, swimming pool accidents, and other property-related incidents
- Defective products, such as auto defects and dangerous drugs and medical devices
Wrongful death lawsuits can also arise in cases involving criminal activity, such as homicide or murder. As civil lawsuits, these cases are separate from any criminal proceedings that may occur. The outcome of a criminal trial does not necessarily affect the outcome of a wrongful death lawsuit, although a guilty plea or verdict can be used as evidence of wrongful conduct.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida?
Many states allow the surviving spouse, child, or other family member of the decedent to file a wrongful death claim, but Florida is not one of them. Although certain family members are entitled to recover compensation in a wrongful death case, the actual claim (or lawsuit) must be filed by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. This is someone who is either named in the decedent’s will or, if no will exists, someone appointed by the court to manage the estate.
Although the personal representative is the one to file the claim, wrongful death damages are sought on behalf of the decedent’s estate and their surviving:
- Spouse or domestic partner
- Named beneficiaries
Essentially, anyone who can prove that they were dependent on the decedent may be eligible to recover compensation for losses they have experienced due to the decedent’s death.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida
Filing a wrongful death claim is a serious matter for your family, and you need to know your rights when you are ready to file a claim. You may have decided to set up a lawsuit, but you cannot do anything unless you are working with a lawyer who is going to advise you of your rights. This is the most important part of the process, and you need to make your appointment today. With offices in Naples, Boca Raton, Hollywood, and Coral Springs, we serve clients across Florida.
Set Up Your Appointment
You need to make an appointment with your lawyer to make sure that you can learn your rights when you are ready to file a claim. Your lawyer is going to advise you of what you can do under the law, and then your lawyer is going to let you know if your case falls under the law. There are times when you cannot file a claim because of the nature of the case, and there are other times when you have no reasonable evidence. Your lawyer can deny to represent you when there is no evidence, and you must respect that decision. A lawyer who takes you case is going to begin looking into it immediately.
Provide All Information
You should tell your lawyer everything about the case so that there is no confusion about what your rights are. A Florida wrongful death lawyer that is surprised at the last minute by something will likely have to deal with additional obstacles.
Follow Your Lawyer’s Advise
A lawyer at Zimmerman & Frachtman is going to help you learn your rights as they relate to your wrongful death case. Every case is different, and you will be able to get real advice from a lawyer today.
How Much Is a Wrongful Death Claim Worth?
Because every case is unique, it is not possible to predict the exact value of your wrongful death claim without first discussing the specific details of your situation. The severity of the accident, the degree of negligence by the defendant, the extent of losses experienced by surviving loved ones, and many other factors all play a role in the worth of a given claim. That being said, wrongful death lawsuits tend to result in certain types of damages being awarded, both to the estate and to eligible surviving individuals.
Surviving family members and loved ones may be able to recover compensation for:
- Any medical expenses associated with the decedent’s treatment for their final injuries paid directly by the individual
- Funeral and/or burial expenses paid directly by the individual
- Loss of love, companionship, support, guidance, counsel, comfort, and protection provided by the decedent to the individual
- Loss of services and support, including household and childcare services, provided by the decedent in life
- Loss of parental guidance, protection, and companionship provided by the decedent to a surviving child (biological or adopted)
- Mental and emotional pain, suffering, and anguish
Meanwhile, the following types of damages may be awarded to the decedent’s estate:
- Any medical and/or funeral expenses paid by the estate
- Lost earnings, income, wages, and other related benefits from the time between the decedent’s final injury and death
- The value of income/earnings the decedent would have reasonably provided to the estate had they lived
Our Florida wrongful death attorneys can help you understand the potential value of your case, as well as which types of damages you may be entitled to receive. We understand that no amount of compensation can undo the immense pain, suffering, and trauma you have experienced. However, we have also seen firsthand how a fair settlement or jury verdict can allow families to navigate unanticipated financial hardships and move forward. A successful wrongful death lawsuit can offer a much-needed sense of justice and allow you and your family to heal.
Wrongful Death FAQ
How long do I have to sue for wrongful death in Florida?
The statute of limitations on most standard wrongful death lawsuits in Florida is two years. This means that you have two years from the date of death (in most cases) to sue the liable party. In cases involving manslaughter or murder, however, there is no deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. This is true whether or not the alleged offender has been arrested, charged, or convicted.
How is a wrongful death case different from a criminal case?
Wrongful death claims are civil cases. This means that they pass through the civil court system, rather than the criminal courts. A successful wrongful death lawsuit allows surviving family members, dependents, and others affected by the death to recover monetary compensation for their losses, or “damages.” A criminal case, on the other hand, results in criminal penalties if the accused is convicted. Penalties may include jail or prison time, fines, court fees, and more. A conviction does not allow the family of the decedent or any other interested party to recover compensation for damages.
How do I know if I have a wrongful death case?
Most wrongful death cases are brought on the grounds of negligence. This means you will need to prove that the liable party breached a duty of care they owed to the decedent and that this breach was the cause of the decedent’s death. In cases involving strict liability, such as some claims against manufacturers of defective products, you do not necessarily need to prove that anyone was negligent to have a case. Our Florida wrongful death attorneys can help you determine if you have a case during a free, confidential consultation.
Contact Our Florida Wrongful Death Lawyer
If your spouse, child, parent, or family member died tragically in an accident or due to the negligent or wrongful conduct of another, our firm is ready to help. We offer caring, personalized legal service tailored to each individual’s unique needs, concerns, and goals. We believe that communication is the cornerstone of good attorney-client relationships, which is why we make ourselves consistently available to our clients. You will even receive our personal contact information so that you can always get in touch with us when you need to.
When it comes to advocating for our clients in front of insurance companies, opposing attorneys, judges, and juries, we do not back down from a challenge. We work with accident reconstructionists, medical experts, economists, and other specialists to fully investigate claims and build powerful, persuasive cases for our clients. We know how to effectively present evidence and seek the maximum compensation you are owed. To date, our firm has secured more than $300 million in compensation for our clients.
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