What Does a Wrongful Death Lawyer Do? | What Types of Lawyers Handle Wrongful Death Claims?
Wrongful Death Lawyer- They can gather evidence, determine liability for your loved one's death, build a case, and assist you in pursuing the compensation you deserve.
What Does a Wrongful Death Lawyer Do?
A wrongful death lawyer handles civil lawsuits for families who have lost a loved one as a result of another party's negligence or wrongful act. A wrongful death occurs "when a person's death is caused by a wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty," according to Florida Statute 768.19. In such cases, the estate of the deceased person may file a civil lawsuit.
In addition to handling civil lawsuits, wrongful death lawyers frequently handle personal injury cases. A wrongful death attorney at Dolman Law Group can assist your family in holding responsible parties financially accountable for the losses you have suffered. We provide free consultations to go over your legal options in greater depth. Continue reading to learn more about the work of a wrongful death attorney.
Qualifications for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
One of the most important duties of a wrongful death lawyer is to establish that the surviving family has a legal basis for suing the negligent party for damages. In general, the ability of the decedent to bring a personal injury claim had they lived, is a required element of a wrongful death claim. In other words, the decedent would have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit based on the circumstances of the accident.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida?
Only the personal representative of an estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida. A personal representative may be someone named in the will of the decedent. The court will appoint a personal representative in the absence of a will.
After identifying the personal representative, they may contact a wrongful death lawyer to file a civil lawsuit. The personal representative files the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased and their surviving family members.
The person who files the wrongful death lawsuit is obligated to list all surviving family members who may receive compensation from any settlement. A surviving parent, spouse, child, or blood relative who depended on the deceased for support may bring a wrongful death claim on their behalf. Typically, spouses and kids are the main beneficiaries. Additionally, if the deceased parent was known to the child's unmarried parent before birth and was providing for their support, the child may benefit.
Establishing Proof in Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuits
To be successful in a wrongful death lawsuit, similar to a personal injury lawsuit, certain facts must be established. To begin, it is critical to understand that the person responsible for your loved one's death did not have to face criminal charges.
Does Legality Play a Role in Determining Liability?
Consider the liability in a fatal Florida car accident involving a drunk driver. According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), over 3,000 people died in traffic accidents in 2018, 10% of which were caused by drunk drivers.
Driving while intoxicated is considered negligent behaviour under the law. Consciously choosing to drive after using alcohol or drugs puts others in danger. A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed if a person is killed in a car accident caused by an impaired driver. A criminal conviction would almost certainly lend credibility to any civil personal injury lawsuit.
However, establishing responsibility in a wrongful death case does not necessitate the responsible party's criminal liability. Medical malpractice cases frequently include civil liability, even if the physician's actions are not considered criminal. For example, a physician may have failed to properly diagnose cancer, resulting in the death of your loved one.
The failure of medical personnel to diagnose cancer is not a criminal offence. However, treatment providers may be held civilly liable for expenses and losses incurred as a result of the patient's death.
Proving the Chain of Causation in a Wrongful Death Claim
Although criminal negligence is not required for a wrongful death claim, you must be able to demonstrate that the person's actions were reckless, intentional, or negligent. Furthermore, you must demonstrate that the person's reckless, intentional, or negligent behaviour resulted in your loved one's death.
You must also demonstrate that you or your family members were harmed as a result of the death. To establish negligence, one must show that the person responsible for the death failed to exercise reasonable care.
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What Qualifies as Reasonable Care in a Personal Injury Claim?
Reasonable care implies that a person acted in the same way that any other person would have acted in the same circumstances. When a driver approaches a pedestrian in a crosswalk, for example, the driver comes to a complete stop. In these cases, reasonable drivers will come to a complete stop until the pedestrian is safely out of the way.
An inattentive driver who is distracted by a text message and fails to notice the pedestrian in the crosswalk is not acting reasonably. In other words, texting and driving may be considered negligent behaviour. To summarise, texting and driving is negligent behaviour because a reasonable person understands that operating a motor vehicle while distracted is dangerous and irresponsible.
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Connecting Negligence to Accident Injury in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
After establishing negligent behaviour, a wrongful death lawyer must demonstrate how that behaviour contributed to your loved one's death. To continue with the same example, the driver failed to notice the pedestrian because they were texting. Instead of slowing the vehicle down, they hit the pedestrian, killing them.
In this case, the pedestrian died as a result of the driver's carelessness. In this case, you may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. If it cannot be demonstrated that a person's actions caused the death, the person will not be held responsible.
To use another example, a physician would not be held liable for a patient's death if the patient refused treatment after being diagnosed. If cancer caused the patient's death, the physician will not be held liable. Because the patient chose not to receive treatment, the doctor did not cause the patient's death. There would be no basis for a wrongful death lawsuit in this case. Finally, one must demonstrate that there were damages as a result of a loved one's death.
Common Causes of Florida Wrongful Deaths
There are numerous incidents and accidents that can lead to wrongful death. In some cases, the accident results in immediate death, while in others, a victim may sustain injuries that eventually lead to death. This can happen in a single instance or as a result of repeated exposure.
If the victim had survived in these circumstances, they would have been entitled to compensation for costs such as medical bills, lost wages, and other damages directly related to the accident. In the event of a fatal accident, the family may be able to seek restitution for their losses.
Examples of Wrongful Death Causes:
- Murder and manslaughter: A physical attack that results in death may allow family members to file a wrongful death claim. If the victim hadn't died, they could have filed a personal injury lawsuit. The victim would be entitled to recover medical bills, lost wages while recovering, and possibly punitive damages.
- Medical malpractice: For example, if a doctor performs an unnecessary surgery and the victim dies as a result, the doctor may be sued for wrongful death. If the victim had survived the surgical procedure, they could have filed a civil lawsuit. The personal injury lawsuit would seek to hold the doctor responsible for their errors.
- Motor vehicle accidents: Traffic accidents involving negligent drivers are one of the leading causes of wrongful death. For example, if a truck driver fails to follow safety guidelines or secure their load, they may be held liable for wrongful death. The same is true for a distracted or inebriated driver.
- Other negligent actions: A variety of accidents can give surviving family members the right to file a wrongful death claim. Accidents on construction sites, for example, caused by unsafe conditions, or accidents involving defective products or neglected premises.
Anyone who believes a loved one's death could have been avoided should contact a personal injury lawyer. An experienced accident injury attorney who is familiar with wrongful death laws can assist you in navigating your claim.
Types of Damages in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit
When a person survives an injury or illness caused by the negligence or willful conduct of another, they are entitled to compensation. This is also true in a wrongful death lawsuit, except that the surviving family may be entitled to compensation for their losses. In some cases, the deceased received extensive medical treatment before succumbing to their injuries, requiring family members to miss work in order to care for them or transport them to appointments.
Furthermore, the death of a parent or spouse as a result of someone's careless behaviour can have long-term financial consequences. Financial ramifications may be especially severe if the decedent was the family's sole breadwinner. These costs, along with expenses related to death, such as funeral and burial expenses, may be eligible for reimbursement.
Examples of Economic Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Diagnostic tests
- Hospice care
- Lost wages
- Funeral expenses
- Lost potential income
- Lost benefits
Wrongful Death Non-economic Damages
Other non-economic damages may be available to family members. The nature of these damages makes predicting the amount of compensation a family may receive difficult. A child who loses a parent, for example, loses the parent's companionship, guidance, and future inheritance. In addition to other damages, a surviving spouse may be compensated for the loss of companionship.
Do I Need a Florida Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Personal injury attorneys are frequently experienced in wrongful death cases. Because many of the same elements are required in both personal injury and wrongful death cases, personal injury attorneys handle both types of cases. If you believe a loved one's death could have been prevented, you should contact a wrongful death attorney. They can give you advice and information before you decide to file a lawsuit.
They will also be able to negotiate a fair settlement more effectively due to their understanding of insurance company tactics. A wrongful death attorney can help you understand your rights and identify those responsible for your loss. If you decide to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you will need the assistance of an experienced wrongful death lawyer.
Wrongful Death Lawyers Can Assist With Important Administrative Tasks
Wrongful death lawsuits are difficult to navigate, and a lawyer can assist you. According to Florida law, the wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by a personal representative on behalf of the decedent and their family members. You must identify the executor or administrator of the decedent's estate.
Then, you or your personal injury attorney must determine whether a personal representative was named in the decedent's will or whether the court must appoint one. In addition, there is a statute of limitations that must be followed when filing a wrongful death lawsuit. A statute of limitations governs the amount of time you have after the death of a loved one to file a lawsuit.
The time will differ depending on the incident that caused your loved one's death. A wrongful death lawsuit, for example, must be filed within two years of the death. If your loved one died as a result of medical malpractice, you may have up to four years to file a personal injury lawsuit. A personal injury lawyer can assist you in determining critical deadlines for your case.
Why Should I Choose Dolman Law Group to Represent Me?
Hiring the right lawyer is critical because you want to work with someone who is looking out for your best interests. As your wrongful death attorneys, we will represent you and advise you on the best course of action. We have the legal knowledge, work ethic, and trial experience to complete the task.
Many personal injury cases are settled out of court, particularly car accidents and medical malpractice cases. Many wrongful death cases, on the other hand, go to trial. You will need a personal injury lawyer who has tried cases in front of a judge and jury. Dolman Law Group will not put you under any pressure to settle if we believe you are not receiving a fair settlement offer.
Instead, our team will work hard to get you the most money for your wrongful death claim. Among our most recent accomplishments are:
- a 1 million dollar wrongful death settlement for a father killed in a rideshare car accident
- a 6.7 million dollar wrongful death settlement
Dolman Law Group is here to help you pursue maximum compensation if you need a dedicated, knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer.
Contact Dolman Law Group Today for Assistance With Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit.
Dolman Law Group, as wrongful death attorneys, understands that no amount of money can compensate for the loss of a loved one. We believe, however, that you should not have to suffer the devastating financial and emotional consequences of someone else's intentional, reckless, or negligent behaviour that results in the death of a loved one.
Unexpected medical bills, lost wages, funeral and burial expenses, and the loss of companionship are all possible consequences. Dolman Law Group recognises that you are facing a lifetime of suffering and loss. We will work tirelessly to assist you in regaining financial stability, even if it means taking your wrongful death lawsuit to court.
If you believe a loved one would not have died if the responsible party had acted reasonably, contact a wrongful death attorney at Dolman Law Group. You can reach us at any time by calling (727) 451-6900 or using our website's contact form. Dolman Law Group's wrongful death attorneys will review the facts of your case and advise you on the best course of action.
What Types of Lawyers Handle Wrongful Death Claims?
A wrongful death claim can be handled by any type of lawyer. While any attorney licenced to practise law in your state can file a wrongful death lawsuit, you should look for one who has expertise and years of experience handling these types of cases. That in-depth knowledge may be more useful to you than someone who represents clients in a variety of legal matters.
Reasons to Hire an Attorney Who Specializes in Wrongful Death Cases
The legal profession is vast, covering everything from murder and forgery to real estate and civil liability. Despite the fact that most attorneys have a solid foundational understanding of many legal topics, every issue has relevant statutes and court cases that change on a regular basis. A wrongful death attorney who has chosen to focus on this niche will most likely have a more detailed background and understanding of that legal area than a more generalised attorney.
It can be difficult to determine how much compensation to seek in a wrongful death case. Surviving relatives may be eligible for financial compensation to cover:
- Medical bills
- Funeral expenses
- The deceased person’s lost income
- Loss of an inheritance
- Loss of services your loved one would have provided
- Loss of affection, support, and companionship
Some of those losses can be particularly difficult to quantify, but an attorney with wrongful death experience understands how to approach those delicate questions and seek justice.
An insurance company may offer your family a settlement, but it may not adequately compensate you for your losses. Insurers strive to protect their bottom line by settling cases for the smallest amount possible. Family members frequently have no idea how much compensation they could receive. Calculating a fair settlement in a wrongful death case is a complex process that necessitates a thorough examination of numerous factors. A lawyer with experience handling wrongful death claims can advise you on the appropriate level of compensation for your situation.
Laws That May Apply to Your Claim
In some ways, wrongful death cases are similar regardless of location. In a wrongful death case, the plaintiff must show:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the decedent.
- They breached that duty of care.
- The family member died as a result.
- The plaintiff suffered damages due to the death.
Aside from that, state laws differ significantly in a number of key areas.
Some states, for example, limit wrongful death lawsuits to surviving spouses and minor children. Other states allow siblings, adult children, extended relatives, and non-family members to sue for wrongful death.
In a few states, relatives cannot sue for wrongful death; instead, an executor or personal representative of the deceased individual's estate must file the suit and divide any monetary award among eligible family members. A wrongful death attorney in your state will be familiar with relevant laws and will know who is eligible to file a lawsuit.
State statutes of limitations differ as well. Plaintiffs have a limited time to file a lawsuit in order to seek justice. These periods vary by state, and some may allow for exceptions that extend the statute of limitations. For example, if a doctor made a mistake that resulted in the untimely death of a patient but the error was not discovered until much later, the statute of limitations may be tolled. That is, the clock may begin ticking when the injury was discovered rather than when it occurred.
An attorney who specialises in wrongful death cases in your state can explain the statute of limitations, tell you how much time you have left to file a claim, and ensure that you meet the application deadline so you do not lose your right to file a claim.
A Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help You Seek Justice
Ben Crump Law, PLLC, has a team of lawyers who have represented clients in wrongful death cases across the United States. Our wrongful death lawyers are well-versed in each state's wrongful death laws, statutes of limitations, medical malpractice, and other pertinent issues. They can collect evidence, determine who is responsible for your loved one's death, build a case, and assist you in pursuing the compensation you deserve.
Without going to court, a lawyer could negotiate a settlement. If that is not possible, your attorney may decide to go to trial in order to get justice for your family.
You do not need to be concerned about the legal costs of pursuing a wrongful death case. Ben Crump Law, PLLC works on a contingency basis. We will not charge any upfront fees to your family to represent you. Our firm only gets paid if we win an award on your behalf.
Grieving relatives who try to push forward despite their feelings of being overwhelmed may lose track of time, but statutes of limitations are strict. You may lose your right to sue if you miss your state's deadline. Call Ben Crump Law, PLLC today at (800) 593-3443 to speak with a team member about handling your wrongful death claim.