When dealing with the loss of a loved one, families have to endure so many hardships all at once: the emotional pain, potential financial difficulties without the support of the deceased, and, if the loss was unexpected the shock of the person’s sudden absence. While pursuing a lawsuit for a wrongful death claim may be the furthest thought from a grieving family member’s mind, taking that leap to speak to a wrongful death attorney promptly is imperative. If a family is facing financial hardship, receiving compensation from a successful wrongful death suit may at least help alleviate the financial difficulties, and it may even provide closure for some of the emotional pain. Brooks Law Group has a team of skilled wrongful death attorneys that can help you recover the money to which you are entitled.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Case
What is wrongful death? Wrongful death is a death that occurs due to the negligence or misconduct of another. To prove negligence, the Plaintiff must show that the Defendant owed a duty to the deceased to use reasonable care, breached that duty, and, as a result, caused the decedent’s death. Damages must also be proven as a result of the death, as damages are not presumed in negligence cases.
These elements must be proven by the greater weight of the evidence, which means evidence that is more convincing compared to the other side’s evidence. Although “more convincing” may sound somewhat ambiguous, attaching a percentage to the standard helps clarify its meaning: a Judge or jury needs to be convinced by 51% that the Plaintiff’s evidence is more persuasive.
Some common causes of wrongful death include:
- Car, train, or tractor-trailer accidents
- Bike and pedestrian accidents
- Medical product defects
- Workplace accidents
- Consumer product defects
Who can file Wrongful Death claims?
Wrongful death claims are lawsuits filed by the survivors of a deceased. In Florida, the law governing Wrongful Death actions is the Florida Wrongful Death Act. The Florida Wrongful Death Act allows said survivors– the parent, child, or spouse, or any other relative or adoptive sibling dependent on the deceased for financial or emotional support – to seek compensation for lost support or services after the death of their loved one.
What damages are recoverable?
There are many financial losses experienced by the wrongful death of a loved one. These losses can include loss of support and services, loss of net accumulations, and medical and funeral expenses. Here are a few questions and explanations as to how and what can be recovered according to The Florida Wrongful Death Act.
First, survivors may recover medical or funeral expenses incurred due to the decedent’s injury or death. Additionally, all survivors 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, reduced to present value. In determining the appropriate amount of lost support and services, the court evaluates 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. Future losses are computed by determining the joint life expectancies of the survivor and the decedent and the period of minority, in the case of healthy minor children.
What can the surviving spouse also recover?
The surviving spouse may also recover loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.
What can children of the decedent also recover?
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.
What can parents of a deceased minor child also recover?
They 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.
The decedent’s personal representative may also recover for the decedent’s estate.
In some cases, after determining the appropriate amount of compensatory damages mentioned above, the court may also award punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish and deter the Defendant’s conduct (which the Plaintiff must have proven was egregious or malicious), in order to prevent recurrence and deter others from acting similarly. Punitive damages are not directly tied to the Plaintiff’s damages.
Contact Brooks Law Group
The Wrongful Death Act dictates a time limit for filing the lawsuit, and failing to file within this time limit can prevent the potential plaintiff from seeking compensation for their losses. If you lost a loved one due to the negligence or misconduct of another, it is critical that you contact an attorney as soon as possible to secure any compensation to which you may be entitled. The attorneys at Brooks Law are experienced in wrongful death claims and are here to evaluate your claim. Call us today.