Plaintiff’s Legal Options in Florida Wrongful Death Cases
The death of a loved one is always traumatic. Unfortunately, we all have to face this fact of life at one point or another. But to lose someone you care about due to the negligence of others is an entirely different thing and can be exponentially more painful. You not only feel the loss of your loved one, but you’re also probably experiencing anger, frustration, and a list of other unpleasant emotions.
Although there isn’t anything that can bring them back, you can move forward and find some closure. We’ll discuss your rights as a plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit. Miami-Dade residents who are facing this unexpected tragedy should contact a wrongful death lawyer in Florida who can help to guide them through the process of filing a lawsuit.
What Is Considered Wrongful Death in Florida?
Florida’s Wrongful Death Act defines wrongful death as when a death results from negligence, breach of contract, or by a wrongful act. In layman’s terms, a wrongful death occurs when a person or entity does something (or doesn’t do something) that causes someone to die. Circumstances that could cause a wrongful death include:
- Negligence – A death caused by negligence could be a car accident or unsafe worksite.
- Medical malpractice – Healthcare professionals can be held liable for wrongful death due to medical errors.
- A defective product – If the design of a product is proven to be defective and directly caused someone to die, the company can be held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Intentional or unintentional death during the act of a crime – This covers everything from murder, manslaughter, and other crimes that resulted in someone’s death.
Who Is Eligible to File?
Although the deceased’s entire family can benefit from any money awarded for damages, only a representative for them can file the lawsuit. The personal representative could be someone named in the deceased will, usually designated as the executor. This person can file the lawsuit on behalf of the deceased’s immediate family.
Family members who can be listed in the lawsuit as beneficiaries can include:
- The deceased’s spouse or legal partner
- The deceased’s children, either minor or adult
- The deceased’s parents
Also included are any other family members who benefited from the deceased’s support, financial or emotional. It should be noted that the statute of limitations in the state of Florida to file a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of the deceased’s death.
What Losses Can Be Claimed in a Florida Wrongful Death Case?
Several damages can be claimed in a Florida wrongful death lawsuit. They’re divided into two main categories; economic and non-economic. However, all damages will be paid out monetarily. Some of the losses that can be claimed in a wrongful death case can include:
- Cost of funeral and burial
- Mental pain and suffering
- Unpaid medical expenses
- Lost wages and benefits – current and expected
- Loss of support, guidance, companionship, and protection
Damages that are difficult to attach a monetary amount to will be determined by a jury. If the deceased had dependant minor children, the lawsuit could include compensation to cover the expected college or university costs per child. Florida does not collect state taxes on any money recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Are the Steps of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death cases can take some time to settle, and most of the time won’t be spent in a courtroom with a judge and/or jury. Here’s a basic outline of what to expect:
- File the lawsuit – Your lawyer will file the lawsuit with the court, and the defendant(s) will be notified.
- Discovery phase – This is the stage where the lawyers will exchange evidence and information, including interviews and formal depositions.
- Pre-trial settlement or pre-trail motions – Sometimes, the defendant may offer a settlement amount during the discovery phase. You can either accept it, discuss it further, or go to trial.
- Trial – The plaintiff can choose between a jury or judge trial. If your case is successful, you’ll either be awarded damages, or the defendant can appeal the decision.
Sadly, nothing can bring back a loved one after they’ve been taken. This horrible tragedy won’t be easy to put behind you, but a wrongful death lawsuit may help to provide some sort of financial support and emotional closure, no matter how long it takes.
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida can be difficult and complex. Hiring an experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you to move forward and put this painful experience behind you.
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