Wrongful death occurs when a person suffers a fatal injury due another person or party’s negligence and reckless action. The surviving members suffer a devastating loss of financial and emotional support, and endure emotional trauma.
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An experienced wrongful death attorney can help the surviving family members recover wrongful death damages, which will lessen the financial burden of a loved one’s death. You deserve the maximum compensation possible to cover your expenses and to help you in the future. Call Nuñez Law at (786) 882-2038 to schedule your free consultation with a South Florida law firm.
The Florida Wrongful Death Act, the decedent’s personal representative may recover for the the following for the decedent’s estate:
- Medical bills
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost support and services
- Loss of parental companionship for the children of the deceased
- Loss of companionship for the spouse of the deceased
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Florida?
In Florida, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate is the only person who can file a wrongful death claim. If the deceased named their personal representative in their will, then that makes the process faster. Otherwise, the court will appoint a representative.
Many people in the decedent’s family feel righteous outrage over the untimely death, but when it comes to receiving compensation, settlements are usually paid to family members who were financially dependent on the decedent. An attorney must list all the surviving family members who have an interest in filing a wrongful death lawsuit such as the deceased’s spouse, children, parents, children with unmarried parents, siblings and sometimes even grandparents.
The age, marital status, and other demographic factors of the decedent affect who is the first to be considered when filing a wrongful death claim. Usually the spouse is the first to be considered unless the decedent wasn’t married, in which case the next in line files the claim. In the case of an unmarried minor, the parents usually file a wrongful death claim unless the minor was living with other relatives or legal guardians.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Nuñez Law handles a variety of personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits. Typically the family can recover economic damages like funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses and lost income. The bulk of economic damages come from the lost wages, bonuses, commissions, pensions and benefits (i.e. health insurance) that the decedent would have received had they lived until the eligible age of retirement.
The family can also recover noneconomic damages for their intangible losses, like their mental pain and suffering. These damages are much harder to put a dollar value on. Nuñez Law has helped families receive compensation for loss of parental support, mental pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and other damages.
How Long Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take in Florida?
A wrongful death claim can take anywhere from one year to three years. It is useful in your case if you come to your initial consultation with any documents you already have, and forward any additional documentation you receive to our law firm until your case concludes.
Regardless whether the deceased had a will or not, any assets that the decedent owned are subject to probate in Florida. What this means is that the court will oversee the identification and consolidation of the deceased person’s assets, pay off any debts the decedent had, and then distribute the rest of the decedent’s assets to their beneficiaries. Having a will makes this process go more quickly, but with an unexpected death, many times there is no will, as the decedent did not anticipate their untimely death.
As the plaintiff, you have the burden of proof that the defendant was 50% at-fault for the accident that led to the untimely death.
During this phase, your attorney gathers relevant information to establish the elements of your wrongful death case. They will have to prove that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care, and that their negligence was the direct cause of the victim’s death. Of course, the attorneys for the defendant will argue otherwise. An experienced wrongful death attorney will gather the facts to build a strong legal strategy. Examples of breaching the duty of care include excessive speeding, drinking while driving and texting.
Although the burden of proof is lower in a wrongful death claim than a criminal proceeding, the evidence must still meet certain standards. Among some of the resources and documents we collect in this phase are:
- Eyewitness testimony
- Expert witness testimony
- Your medical records
- Traffic camera footage
- Surveillance footage from nearby homes or businesses that captured the fatal incident
- The police report
- Photos and videos you captured yourself on the day of the fatal incident or accident, or that a witness captured
During this phase, Nuñez Law will communicate with you what is happening with your case and inform you of anything we may need.
If Your Wrongful Death Case Goes to Trial
If the parties in a wrongful death lawsuit are unable to agree to a settlement amount, then the case will be heard in court and a jury will decide. Although a wrongful death attorney always should prepare as if the case will go to court, that needs to be weighed against the needs of the surviving loved ones. A trial could go on for years; meanwhile, the surviving family needs the financial support of a settlement now.
What Is Considered a Wrongful Death in Florida?
When a person dies because of another’s negligence, misconduct, or reckless behavior, then the surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death claims can arise from numerous situations such as
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Truck accidents
- Slip and falls
- Premises liability cases
Wrongful death cases are different from criminal homicide cases. If the decedent had the right to file a personal injury claim had they survived, then a personal representative of their estate can file a civil claim on their behalf. The defendant can only show their liability through financial compensation in a wrongful death case. However, if convicted in criminal court, then the defendant could face jail or prison, fines and other penalties.
Although there are different types of wrongful death cases, all of them have a few things in common. First, they are heard in civil court, not in criminal court, though there may be a separate criminal proceeding that parallels your case. A wrongful death lawsuit isn’t meant to punish the defendant, even if they are ordered to pay punitive damages. The purpose is to compensate the surviving family members for their losses.
Miami wrongful death lawsuits usually involve negligence. Miami wrongful death attorneys help in determining who is liable for the preventable death and therefore responsible for the family’s monetary damages.
Some of the most common types of fatal accidents are motor vehicle accidents. In 2021, there were 3,863 deaths from motor vehicle crashes in Florida. In Miami-Dade County that same year, 357 lives were lost in fatal traffic accidents. A common type of negligence is reckless driving. Fatal car crashes are often caused by speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, and aggressive driving.
Call Nuñez Law if your loved one was killed in a car accident. We can help you begin the process of filing your wrongful death suit. Nuñez Law is experienced in wrongful death claims caused by auto accidents. Our Miami wrongful death lawyers have been standing up to insurance companies on behalf of South Florida clients for many years.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Suit
The defendant may not be a person; they could be a company or government entity. No matter who they are, there needs to be a strong argument proving that they directly caused the family member’s death through their actions. In order to win your case, your wrongful death lawyer needs to prove that:
- The death resulted from negligence
- The defendant breached their duty of care and responsibility to the decedent
- The defendant’s negligence caused the fatal accident
- The family has suffered losses as a result
Contact a Miami Wrongful Death Attorney Today
It is critical to meet with a wrongful death lawyer to understand your rights under Florida law. Nuñez Law can explain your options for pursuing legal action after an unexpected death. You do not want to wait to talk to a Miami wrongful death lawyer regarding questions you have about the process. The statute limitations for wrongful death cases is two (2) years of the date of death, with rare exceptions that should be determined by an experienced wrongful death lawyer.
Nuñez Law is a personal injury law firm based in Miami serving all of South Florida, including North Miami Beach and other local areas. We help during a time when you are grieving, have so many questions, and are uncertain about what to do next. Call (786) 882-2038 now to schedule your free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer.