By: KGD Law
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Have you lost your loved one in a wrongful death? Lawsuit information
When you think about the typical lawsuit, the courts usually hold a person liable for the damages incurred by another individual. In the case of a wrongful death suit, the people who incur the damages are those who suffer the loss of the life of an individual at the fault of the defendant.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death can be intentional or negligent. There may be a criminal element and incarceration of the person who is responsible. It also may have been a negligent accident. Not all accidental deaths include negligent acts. A court will have to determine the level of fault that a defendant has and adjust decisions and awards accordingly.
Common wrongful death suits include those caused by medical errors, car accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, work-related deaths, product liability, and slip and fall deaths. There are tragic accounts of infants dying in poorly-designed cribs. Mothers and fathers dying in unsafe working conditions make a case for a wrongful death suit. A reckless driver hitting a pedestrian also falls into this category. In all of these terrible scenarios, either an individual or a business was responsible for the death of a person.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In the cases of children losing their parents or the loss of a spouse, it is easy to see where monetary awards would help them to carry on with less obstacles. However, this is not the only intent of wrongful death lawsuits. The law means for these awards to compensate loved ones for their pain and suffering. However, there are limitations on who can file. The following individuals can file a wrongful death suit:
- Spouse of deceased
- Children of deceased
- Dependents of the deceased (possibly adoptive or blood relatives)
- Parents of deceased
- The Estate of the deceased
Although suing the person responsible for the death doesn’t bring the deceased back to life, it shifts some of the pain and suffering onto the defendant in the form of monetary loss and hopefully lessens some of the burden on the family in the form of monetary awards. This in no way implies that it lessens the pain and suffering. It instead helps to maintain life and provides opportunity for rebuilding of life with the loved one no longer present.
Statute of Limitations in Florida Wrongful Death Suit
In Florida, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death suit is 2 years. There is something called a “discovery rule” in wrongful death suits that allows for 2 years from the discovery of the death. This does not mean that finding out a loved one has died 5 years after it happens gives you 9 years to file a suit. The time line for discovery must be reasonable. If a person should have known, the statute of limitations arguably begins then.
There are two places awards from a wrongful death suit can go: to the family and to the estate. If it is to the family, plaintiffs can be awarded multiple types of damages. These include loss of support and services. This may include their future income or amounts considered for the loss of their service in the relationship. The courts may award pain and suffering to a spouse due to loss of companionship. If a child loses his or her parents, the courts awards may include similar pain and suffering, but also loss of instruction and guidance. If parents loose a child, the courts center the award on the tremendous pain and suffering. The courts will include any medical expenses and funeral expenses.
The court may also award damages to the estate. This could include loss of wages during the time of the incident until death. It may include medical and funeral expenses. Also, if the estate was expected to increase in value, but will not receive those gains due to the death, the court will add damages to the estate.
The amounts of damage vary depending on several factors, including age and earnings of the decedent. Another important factor is the decedent’s relationship surviving family members. When you add up all of the contributions a person lost due to someone else’s negligence, the numbers get fairly large. This is why a plaintiff needs a lawyer who knows the details about what the courts will award and is well-versed in case law that sets a precedent for the courts to look at. $500,000 may seem like a lot to some. When you look at the fact that there may be a home to pay for or pain and suffering that inhibits employment, it can be a paltry number. Make sure you are getting everything available, or you may not have enough to rebuild your life sufficiently.
Examples of Recent Wrongful Death Suits
Large wrongful death suits typically hit the news, and there have been a few in recent news. The Florida International University walking bridge that collapsed and killed six people in 2018 is one example. This has resulted in a judgement of almost $103 million to split between victims. Another recent verdict against R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris amounted to $157 million to the surviving spouse of a smoker who was not informed about the dangers of his unhealthy habit. Broward County police recently settled a case where they killed an intoxicated man. Even though prosecutors condoned the officers used of deadly force, the department settled in order to save money.
As you can see, wrongful death suits can come from many unexpected places, and they may be settled out of court in order to avoid court costs. In the face of countless types of tragedy, there is no undoing a wrongful death. There is, however, a way to hold people accountable for their actions that result in death, whether they intended to do it or not.
Finding a Lawyer
When a family member dies unexpectedly, it can be hard to function. Finding a lawyer is rarely a first thought, but finding a good lawyer is essential if you are to have a successful case that gets you the highest judgement possible. While it may seem untimely, hiring a lawyer sooner rather than later can remove a lot of the difficult details of business after death. Basically, you lawyer can offer great assistance in anything that has to do with money following the death of a loved one including handling bill collectors and help managing funeral expenses. He or she will have resources available to help with life following the death of your loved one, and it is nice to have an advocate during this time.
Wrongful death suits are an option in the event of many untimely deaths were a person was at fault either intentionally or through acts of negligence. At the Law Offices of Kirshner, Groff, & Diaz, you’ll find experience lawyers who are available to speak to you. You can speak to a lawyer about your wrongful death case with no obligation. With over 30 years of experience, KG&D lawyers pride themselves in being available for their clients. They have the experience, compassion and the service to help you during your time of need.