The Florida Wrongful Death Guide was created by Paul Boone Law to help residents who have been injured in a wrongful death accident obtain maximum compensation for their claim.
What are Florida Wrongful Death Claims?
According to Florida state law, if someone has died in a way that is wrongful or involves a breach of contract by someone else or an entity not involving the victim, then the loved ones of the deceased can bring a civil lawsuit.
That’s a complicated way of saying that if you lost someone that you loved because someone else was acting in a way that was wrong or negligent or careless, then you may be eligible to receive a legal remedy for the damages and the losses that you and your family are going to have to suffer because of this incident.
Here are some examples of what a wrongful death case is:
A 90-year-old woman was in a nursing home and she was left unattended in her wheelchair by a stairwell. Her wheelchair was not locked and she rolled towards the stairs and tumbled down. She was not discovered for at least an hour when at that point she had passed away from her injuries. This is an avoidable death, which is one of the main characteristics of wrongful death cases.
A college student was exiting the parking ramp and walking towards his first class of the day. At a crosswalk, he steps in the road and a car comes whizzing around the corner and collides with him. He dies on impact. The driver of the car did not obey the rules of the road and it is a wrongful death due to that fact.
A middle-aged woman goes into the ER complaining of chest pain. Because symptoms present differently in men and women for heart attack, the doctor assumes that what the middle-aged woman was experiencing was a panic attack. He prescribes her some Ativan and sends her home. The following evening she suffers another heart attack and, as a result, passes away. Because she did not receive any treatment for her first heart attack and had a subsequent heart attack, she died due to medical malpractice and her family would be eligible to bring a civil claim against the hospital.
The Plaintiff in a Florida Wrongful Death Claim
The word plaintiff refers to the person who will be bringing a lawsuit. If it was a slip and fall where someone got hurt at a grocery store, the plaintiff would be the person who slipped and fell. For a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff has to be representative of the deceased. Here’s what you need to know about who is eligible to be the plaintiff in your particular wrongful death case.
The law in Florida insists that a personal representative of the deceased estate is the person who is going to be eligible to file the lawsuit for wrongful death. This person is likely going to be the one who was named in the loved one’s will or estate plan. In the case where there is no estate plan and there is no will, then the court can appoint someone to be the personal representative for the estate and therefore be the plaintiff and wrongful death case. Our Jacksonville wrongful death attorneys will guide you through what this process will look like.
Please note that just because one person is going to be filing this particular claim it does not mean that only one person is going to see the results of the justice. The personal representative is going to be fighting for the rights of the family as a whole. Any suffering the family members have to endure is included in a wrongful death settlement. For example, if the loved one who passed away had children that they would have been providing for, those children are entitled to damages of not only loss of a relationship with a parent but financial support their parent would have provided them in their lifetime. A full and fair compensation award would include the damages suffered by all surviving family members not just the personal representative.
Family members who can potentially recover wrongful death damages in a case in Florida is the following:
- Parents of the deceased
- Children of the deceased
- Blood relatives such as siblings or adoptive siblings who were either partially or entirely financially dependent on the deceased
We understand that this can be complex and we want to help you understand this fully. Give us a call right away to set up a free initial consultation with our Jacksonville wrongful death attorneys.
Florida Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
In every state in the United States, the rules and laws and statutes are slightly different regarding wrongful death and personal injury cases. Every state is going to have a period of time in which the personal representative is allowed to bring a wrongful death claim as a lawsuit. This is called the statute of limitations. A lot of states in the US have different laws for wrongful death as opposed to personal injury cases.
Florida State law statute of limitations says that a claim must be filed within two years of the loss of a loved one. There are some extenuating circumstances in which a case could be postponed but you would have to discuss this at length with your Jacksonville wrongful death attorneys to see if your case in particular qualifies for an extension. In most cases, it’s going to be those two years only. We urge you to act quickly.
Cases that are brought past the statute of limitations are barred from trying to seek justice. We do not want that to happen to you. The sooner you reach out to us, the better off your case will be. Please understand that we know how hard it is to deal with the loss of a loved one and we respect that you need to grieve. We take the stress of a case off of your hands so that you can focus on yourself and your family. Please don’t delay reaching out to us, as we can help get the ball rolling on what needs to get done so you get the justice you are entitled to.
What are Florida Wrongful Death Damages?
When you bring a wrongful death claim, please understand that it is a civil claim. That means that it is not a government-brought claim, it is involving your loved one’s estate. This is basically saying that while there is wrongdoing in your loved one’s death, this is not going to be a criminal case. There are certainly criminal cases that turn into wrongful death civil claims but, for the interest of the justice you are seeking with a wrongful death case, it is civil first and foremost. The justice that you are seeking is solely financial. You are not putting anyone behind bars in a wrongful death claim. A criminal claim would not involve financial compensation for the surviving family members.
The following are damages that you and your loved ones are entitled to after losing someone in a wrongful death case:
- The loss of a relationship with a family member and the support they would have provided for you and your loved ones
- Mental and emotional suffering as well as pain and suffering after having lost a family member
- The cost of medical services provided to the family member who you lost
- Burial and funeral costs
Our Jacksonville wrongful death attorneys will help you understand exactly what you and your family are entitled to. We will make this an easy process for you and everyone affected by this loss.
Definition of Wrongful Death
What is meant by “wrongful death”? It’s a phrase that we lawyers use all the time to describe a particular kind of case. A wrongful death is an incident, an accident, an event that takes the life of someone through negligence in a way that it should not have happened had there not been negligence. The death of that person, the loss is for the people that that loved one has left behind. The damages that are recoverable for those left behind, called survivors, are then determined. That’s a process. That’s the meaning of wrongful death. Someone has died at the negligence of another leaving behind surviving loved ones. If you have that situation where a loved one has been killed as a result of negligence of another, call us. We can sit down and talk about your case and see how best we can help you.
Wrongful Death Survivors
Wrongful death cases are different than personal injury cases. Those who are allowed to recover with a death of a loved one are generally a surviving spouse, children up to a certain age, and some others. Primarily, it’s a surviving spouse and children. Those can change depending upon the kind of case that the death occurred in, but generally speaking, that’s it. Those people can come to us when they have suffered the loss of a loved one. Sometimes we have a case where someone has died, and because of the manner in which they died, there are no survivors under the laws of the state of Florida. We go through that in great detail in the very first conference so that people’s expectations are appropriately set. If you think you have a wrongful death of a loved one, call us. We’ll go over it. We practice in Nassau County and Duval County primarily. If you have suffered a loss in those areas, call us. We’ll sit down and go over things and see how best we can help.
Benefits Available in a Wrongful Death Case
What are the things that we can recover in a wrongful death case? You can recover several things. These cases are brought by the estate, by statute. Whatever claims the estate has for recovering medical expenses and things of that nature, those are benefits that can be recovered. The intangible losses that surviving spouses or surviving children have, such as the loss of companionship, pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of the capacity to enjoy life because that loved one is gone, can also be recovered. If you have suffered a loss of a loved one in Nassau County and Duval County, call us. We’ll go over those things and so much more. We’ll lay down a road map for how we can help you.
Wrongful Death Punitive Damages
Yes, you can get punitive damages in a wrongful death action. The laws can be rather complicated about punitive damages. Over the last 30 some odd years, the law has gotten complicated about that, but yes, you can recover under appropriate circumstances if the conduct of the person at fault rises to certain levels and other things happen. Yes, you can recover. These are matters for experienced lawyers. Our wrongful death attorney has been in practice for 38 years and has handled wrongful death cases with punitive aspects to them. If you think you have that kind of case which has occurred in Nassau County or Duval County, call us. We’ll sit down and talk about it and make the decisions that are right for your case.
Cost of a Wrongful Death Claim
Clients who come to us with wrongful death cases sign what is known as a contingency fee contract. What that means is, if there is a recovery, our fees come from that recovery. In other words, we advance the cost of the case. If there is a recovery, those costs come out of the share of the survivors and the estate. The costs vary widely. It can be anywhere from $5,000 or $10,000 upwards up to six figures of cost. Every case is different. Every case has its own expenses, if you will. Some cost more than others. If you have that situation, we’re prepared to handle the case, whether it’s at one end of the spectrum or the other as far as costs are concerned. Call us right away. We’ll sit down. We’ll answer them as best we can and figure out how best we can help you.
Wrongful Death Case Value
Sooner or later in a wrongful death case, we begin talking about the value of the case. A wrongful death valuation is different from a personal injury because what you look to recover is the loss that the surviving person, be it the spouse, surviving children, or other relative. It’s a little bit counter intuitive but that’s how you determine that. These valuations are not done quickly. They generally get made later in the case. Once we have acquired evidence and have learned more about the family, the surviving spouse and children, what exactly their loss was, or what kind of person the deceased loved one was, we can begin to assess value. As we get closer to trial date or other key points, we will begin to make that valuation range and have those discussions. If you’ve suffered a loss of a loved one and you think you may have a wrongful death case in Nassau County, Duval County, or surrounding areas, give us a call. We’ll sit down with you, go over your case, and see how best we can help you.
Wrongful Death Case Timeline
There are variables, as with every case, but typically these cases take 9 to 14 months. If we have to file a lawsuit, you can add a year at least to that. If it gets complicated, it will be longer than that. There are other processes which can extend that time. The point is that is not going to be over in a couple of weeks or even four to six weeks. Once that timeframe is set and clients have that kind of an expectation, then they can go through a better healing process of recovering as best they can from the loss of a loved one, the spouse, the child, and can have a confidence that their case is with an experienced lawyer who will handle their case properly and with compassion. If you’ve suffered that kind of loss in Nassau County and Duval County, call us. We’ll sit down at your convenience. We’ll go over things and figure out how best we can help you.
Wrongful Death Insurance Investigation
Should you talk to the insurance company of the liable party? That answer is always no because they do not have your interest in mind. They have the interest of their insured, the driver or owner of an automobile, the owner of a company, the owner of a product, anything where that person died as a result of the negligence of their insured. They are gathering information for the benefit of their insured.
We always advise clients in our first meetings to not talk to anyone connected to the other side. Instead, have them call us. Information will go to and from this office appropriately, and that’s how we handle it. You will never talk to the insurance company directly. If you have a wrongful death case in Nassau County or Duval County, call us right away. We’ll direct you appropriately and lay out a road map to help you.
Heirs Hiring Separate Wrongful Death Attorneys
In wrongful death case, there are often multiple survivors. Sometimes, they want to know if they can get their own lawyer for a variety of reasons. Maybe they don’t get along. It happens and it has happened once or twice at our practice. Survivors or heirs can hire their own lawyer but it is not something we recommend. It causes control issues and any number of problems, which can reduce the value of the case and would not exist if one lawyer represented everyone.
One thing that you must remember is a wrongful death case is prosecuted by the personal representative of the estate. That person is the quarterback of the case. That is the person who makes the decisions in the case. The heirs can hire their lawyers, and if there is disagreement, it can cause problems, notwithstanding the fact that the personal representative makes the final decision. If you have that situation and those questions come up in a wrongful death case in Nassau County, Duval County, or any of the surrounding areas, we can help. Call us today to discuss.
Wrongful Death Claims For a Sibling
Generally speaking, the answer is no. If you are the personal representative, which is who files the claim for the wrongful death, then you can file it on behalf of the estate. Now, there are some very limited circumstances where a sibling might be able to recover directly. If a sibling came to us with that question, we would ask them a lot of wide-ranging questions about the other survivors, surviving spouse, children, etc. to see if they fit under the survivors of the wrongful death act, which controls these kinds of cases. If you have that question and your loss has occurred in Nassau County, Duval County, or the surrounding areas, call us. We’ll sit down. We’ll talk about it. We’ll get the answers to those questions for you.
Delays in a Wrongful Death
Many times, someone dies because of the negligence of others but they don’t die immediately. If a loved one has been hurt and they linger on for several months and then they pass away from those injuries, do you have a case? The answer is yes. The case is a wrongful death case if the death occurs at the hands of another, whether that person dies immediately or sometime down the road. The injury merges with the death and we handle it that way. If you have a loved one who lingered, even for a very long time, and ultimately died as a result of negligence of others, call us. We’ll go over things and see how best we can help you.
Partial Fault in a Wrongful Death
Sometimes when people come to us in these matters, they know a little bit of something of how the accident happened and suspect that their loved one might have been partially responsible for his or her own death. They want to know if there’s a case. The answer is perhaps. Florida has what’s called comparative negligence. Comparative negligence simply is you can be partially responsible for your death and still recover damages.
Let’s say that a person died in an automobile accident. We go try the case in court and the jury said that the person who died was 50% at fault and the other driver was 50% at fault and they awarded the survivors $100,000. The comparative negligence of the person who died is factored in and the judge will reduce that $100,000 ward by half so that it becomes $50,000. That’s how that works. Comparative negligence applies in wrongful death case. It’s not fatal to a wrongful death case. It simply reduces the value of it, one of the main things we take into consideration. If you have that situation, do not hesitate to call us if it’s occurred in Nassau County, or Duval County, or any of the surrounding areas. We will sit down with you, walk you through it, and see how best we could help you.
Choosing The Right Wrongful Death Lawyer
When looking for an attorney in these matters, there is absolutely no substitute for experience in a wrongful death case. These are different kinds of cases. The damages are different. The emotions are high. You need a lawyer who has gone in the trenches, handled these cases, tried these cases, and knows what a jury can do with these cases. Our wrongful death attorney has been in practice 38 years and handled multiple wrongful death cases. Again, these are not simple cases. It’s imperative that you get a trial attorney who has been around, who has been into the court room and has handled these things. If you’ve suffered this loss in Nassau County, or Duval County, or any of the surrounding areas, call us. We’ll sit down at your convenience. We’ll go over things. We’ll come up with a plan that suits you the best.
Call Our Jacksonville Wrongful Death Attorneys Today
When you have lost someone you love due to the negligence or carelessness of another, it is grief that most people can’t describe. We understand that this is a terrible time for you and your family and we want to be there to support you every step of the way. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Jacksonville wrongful death attorneys as soon as possible to set up a free consultation to figure out what legal action you should take to get the justice you and your family are entitled to.
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