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How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works

by John Hensley
How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works

In wrongful death cases, things happen so quickly that it can be a shock to loved ones left behind. Wrongful deaths can occur in a variety of ways, from a pedestrian who was struck by a car in a crosswalk to a negligent surgeon in the operating room.

One thing every wrongful death case has in common is the act of negligence. If you have suddenly lost a loved one to such circumstances, you should know how a wrongful death lawsuit works and proceed with an experienced attorney to receive compensation.

Is It Wrongful Death?

In wrongful death cases, you must prove that someone’s negligent act caused the death. This can happen in a variety of situations, including car accidents, pedestrian accidents, medical malpractice, and defective products. You will be seeking financial compensation to help offset the losses you suffered from losing your loved one due to negligence.

Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In the state of Florida, Statute Section 768.19 states that a person named on the deceased’s will can bring the case before the probate court. When there is no will, a personal representative will be named by the court instead.

The personal representative will act on behalf of the estate. If this is your role, the actions you take must be for the benefit of your lost loved one. The wrongful death claim must also name every interested person in this estate as well, which can include the spouse, blood relative, parent, or adoptive relative who was a dependent of the deceased while they were alive.

As such, survivors who endured pain and suffering can recover wrongful death damages. This usually includes the surviving spouse, any minor children, each parent of a deceased minor child, parents of an adult child in the event of no other survivors, and adult children in the event that there is no surviving spouse.

Additionally, you must pay attention to the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. In Florida, this is two years from the date of death. In rare circumstances, this can be extended. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand if any extensions apply to your case.

Proceeding with a Wrongful Death Lawsuit: What Damages Can You Collect?

Wrongful death cases are civil matters and are brought to civil court. They are resolved by monetary means. It features two parts — one for what the survivors can recover and one for what the estate can recover.

For the estate, a loss of net accumulations can be recovered. This would be based on the jury’s determination through economic evidence of how much the decedent would have left in the estate. Examples of this would be future business or employment income and investments. Additionally, lost earnings and medical and funeral expenses would fall into this category.

Survivors can recover damages for lost support and services; loss of companionship, guidance, protection, and instruction; medical and funeral expenses when these were paid by the survivors; and pain and suffering. Florida’s Wrongful Death Act also specifies that adult children aged 25 and older can only recover lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance when there is no surviving spouse.

What Happens in Cases with the Wrongful Death of a Child?

When a child’s passing is caused by wrongful death, it can be even more difficult to endure. Not only is the situation itself painful, but the courts also consider damages in a different way.

For parents who endure the loss of a child through wrongful death, the compensation is limited only to their financial damages. Since children are too young to contribute to the household and do not have any income, these amounts are likely to be small.

What to Do When Someone You Love Dies by Another’s Negligence

Whether it was a spouse, parent, child, or another relative in your life, it is never easy to endure loss. In cases of wrongful death, it is important that you seek justice on their behalf. If not for someone else’s negligence, your loved one might still be here today.

The lawyers at Fasig | Brooks encourages those who have lost a loved one due to another’s negligence to discuss their case with a wrongful death attorney. In doing so, you will find out how to proceed with your case and start moving through the grieving process.

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