Losing a loved one unexpectedly or due to a preventable accident is an incredibly challenging and emotional experience. It’s not uncommon to bear the weight of medical bills and funeral expenses when dealing with grief. In such trying times, it’s crucial to understand how wrongful death claims work in Florida. This guide aims to provide clarity on the process, evidence requirements, statute of limitations, and the importance of legal representation to ensure justice is served.
You can always connect with a trusted Wrongful Death Attorney in Orlando, FL, to get the best guidance and fair compensation.
Understanding Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal avenue to seek compensation for the losses suffered by family members as a result of their loved one’s untimely passing. To proceed with a wrongful death claim in Florida, you must grasp the state laws and their implications.
Florida Law on Wrongful Death
In Florida, a wrongful death claim depends on the ability to prove that someone’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness caused the death of your loved one. You must present evidence indicating that another party is responsible for the demise.
Statute of Limitations in Florida
The statute of limitations for all wrongful death cases in Florida is two years. This means that you must file your claim within two years of your loved one’s passing. It’s crucial to understand that this time limit applies to all aspects of a wrongful death lawsuit, including filing and any related claims.
Burden of Proof in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A wrongful death suit is a civil matter, distinct from criminal charges. The burden of proof in wrongful death cases is lower than in criminal trials. To succeed in a wrongful death lawsuit, you only need to show that the defendant’s negligence was more likely than not the cause of your loved one’s death. But proving this is not easy. You’ll need the assistance of a qualified Wrongful Death Attorney in Orlando, FL, to collect evidence and prove negligence.
Elements and Evidence in Wrongful Death Cases
Proving wrongful death necessitates establishing the cause and essential elements supported by convincing evidence. Common causes of wrongful death encompass motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, defective products, and acts of violence.
The Four Essential Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
● Negligence: This can encompass careless, intentional, or reckless behavior directly leading to a person’s death.
● Breach of Duty: The responsible party had a legal obligation to provide care and safety to the deceased individual but failed to do so.
● Proving Causation: This includes both proximate (direct cause) and actual (harm directly resulting from the wrongful acts or omissions) causation.
● Damages: Refers to losses incurred by the deceased person’s family due to their passing, which can be economic, non-economic, or punitive.
Conclusive Evidence to Prove Wrongful Death
To substantiate a wrongful death claim, you must provide compelling evidence such as:
● Testimony of expert witnesses establishing negligence.
● Medical records related to the deceased person’s injury or illness.
● Police report indicating another party’s fault.
● Eyewitness accounts of the incident.
● Physical evidence from the incident site (photos, videos, etc.).
● Documentation of the deceased person’s financial losses and medical expenses.
● Testimony from family members regarding the deceased person’s character, interests, and more.
Calculating Damages in Wrongful Death Claims
Damages in wrongful death cases encompass economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Economic damages are awarded to cover financial losses, including funeral expenses, medical bills, and loss of income. Non-economic damages compensate for intangible losses like pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and emotional distress. Punitive damages, though rare, may be awarded to deter future incidents.
The Possibility of a Wrongful Death Settlement
While a wrongful death lawsuit can go to trial, a settlement is also an option. A settlement can save time and money, but the compensation is typically lower than what a court might award.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
● Gather Evidence: Compile documents, photos, videos, or materials demonstrating negligence.
● Consult with an Attorney: Legal counsel can help you understand the process and build a strong case.
● File a Claim: Abide by the legal time frame for filing.
● Serve the Defendant: Notify them of the lawsuit.
● Gather More Evidence: Collect additional evidence through witness testimony and expert opinions.
● Negotiate a Settlement: If possible, reach an agreement outside of court.
● Go to Court: Proceed to trial if no settlement is reached.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
In Florida, only the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. The court may appoint this representative or be named in the deceased person’s last will and testament. It can also be a family member, such as the deceased’s spouse, parent, or child.
The Role of a Wrongful Death Attorney
Hiring an experienced Florida Personal Injury Lawyer is an important step. They can provide guidance on the legal process, protect your rights, help build a strong case, and negotiate a fair settlement. Your attorney will ensure that your rights are upheld and that you receive the justice and compensation you deserve.