A fatal accident can happen anywhere and leave a lasting impact on loved ones. The family of the victim can sue for monetary compensation. However, the legal process can appear confusing. If you need to file a lawsuit, you can benefit from the help of an attorney. Reach out to a Florida wrongful death lawyer today.
We at Holliday Karatinos Law Firm have helped many clients with their wrongful death cases. We work diligently to secure compensation, closure, and justice for surviving family members of those who lost their lives due to negligence. Reach out to us to get started on your case.
Who Files a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Every state has laws about who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Florida, a personal representative is responsible for starting a legal case. Also known as an executor or administrator, a personal representative is in charge of the deceased’s property until taxes and debt get settled.
The executor must be at least 18 years old and physically and mentally capable. Usually, a relative becomes the representative. However, the deceased can name a bank to act on their behalf. If the decedent did not name anyone, the court appoints an executor or administrator.
Once someone takes over as the personal representative, they can file a wrongful death claim. When they do, they must name the family members who might have an interest in the case. The beneficiaries usually include the victim’s spouse, living children, and surviving parents.
The personal representative is the one who searches for a lawyer. A Florida wrongful death lawyer works with them to secure reimbursement.
Examples of Wrongful Death Accidents
Any accident may qualify for a wrongful death settlement if they contain the elements of negligence. The plaintiff must show how the other side was careless and caused the victim’s injuries.
Many accidents fall under the category of wrongful death. Examples include:
- Car collisions. In Florida, over 3,000 fatal car accidents occur each year. Most cases involve human error, but some incidents are due to another entity. A wrongful death may happen on the day of the accident or at a later date.
- Falls. A person could fall from a great height and severely injure themselves. Alternatively, the victim slipped and sustained a fatal brain injury. Regardless of the location, the law may entitle the family to compensation.
- Truck accidents. Injuries are more likely to be severe or fatal due to the size of a semi-trailer. Fatal crashes have decreased by 4 percent in recent years. The truck driver, employer, or manufacturer could have acted negligently.
- Pedestrian accidents. The rate of pedestrian accidents in Florida has increased in recent years. A person on the sidewalk or crosswalk has less protection than a passenger. They are likely to sustain critical injuries.
Regardless of what caused the wrongful death, you could have the right to seek justice. Our lawyers can take over the case and fight for your right to compensation.
Evidence in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The evidence you need to collect can depend on the nature of the accident. In general, the plaintiff should provide medical documents to prove wrongful death. Records in a lawsuit typically include the victim’s test results and medical evaluation. You can use any notes from the doctor as well.
The person might have died in the days or weeks following the traumatic event. They likely did not attend their job for a while because of their accident-related injuries. Therefore, you can use the pay stubs to show the relationship between the incident and economic losses.
You could use a police report if the authorities arrived for something like a motor vehicle collision. The attorney uses the details in the document to explain when and how the accident happened. You can obtain a copy from the police station.
Evidence can include physical items from the accident. If the victim was on a bicycle, hold onto their damaged bike or helmet. Ruined clothing is valuable as well. Avoid throwing anything away after an accident so your lawyer can use it.
Images visualize the aftermath of the accident to the court. They consist of pictures of the accident scene and the person’s injuries. Pictures help prove the accident was severe and led to the victim’s death.
Video works the same way. The footage may depict what occurred exactly in the moments leading up to the accident. Your attorney gets a hold of the footage from nearby cameras.
The police report may include the names of people present at the accident scene. Your attorney can get the contact information and reach out to them. A third party provides testimonies to strengthen your argument. Witnesses can be professionals in a specific line of work as well.
An expert witness offers a statement in a wrongful death lawsuit because they have relevant knowledge. An accident reconstruction specialist explains how the event could have occurred. A physician might lend their expertise if the victim received treatment before they died. Your lawyer may even request a medical examiner to be an expert witness.
The Deadline to Start a Wrongful Death Case in Florida
Civil lawsuits have a strict time limit for when a person can file one. How long you have depends on where you live and the type of lawsuit you pursue. In Florida, a wrongful death case has a separate statute of limitations from a standard injury claim.
The personal representative has two years to initiate a lawsuit if they plan to seek compensation for a loved one’s death. The statute of limitation begins on the date of the victim’s death.
Once the deadline passes, the representative loses their right to sue for reimbursement. Therefore, they need to get started right away. A Florida wrongful death lawyer ensures your case proceeds before the statute of limitations ends.
Who Can Get Compensation?
A wrongful death settlement typically covers any medical expenses the victim accumulated before they died. Additional damages include the funeral and burial costs. A person may get money for loss of support or loss of consortium.
The damages the court awards someone depends on the individual’s relationship to the deceased. Florida law specifies who can receive money in a wrongful death settlement. The surviving spouse usually gets a portion of the compensation.
However, children can be beneficiaries as well. Minor children may receive money for damages like loss of guidance. A minor refers to a child who is under the age of 25. Meanwhile, adult children could get reimbursement if they paid for funeral expenses. The court may award them a larger portion of the settlement if no living spouse exists.
The court awards damages to the parents of a deceased minor child. They can recover financially from mental anguish and medical expenses. However, the law could also entitle parents of adult children to compensation. Usually, no other survivors, like a spouse, are around to gain reimbursement.
Other possible claimants include blood relatives who depended on the deceased’s services. A sibling, grandparent, or grandchild may become eligible. In addition, adoptive family members could obtain compensation if they relied on the decedent.
Can the Estate Recover Losses?
A personal representative works on behalf of the decedent’s estate. Therefore, the law allows the estate to recover damages in a lawsuit. One of the damages in the settlement is lost income. The victim might have missed out on wages for the time they did not work due to the accident.
The lawyer adds up the unworked days from the day of the incident until the victim’s passing. Additionally, the estate can recover the loss of the prospective net accumulations. The prospective net accumulations of the estate refer to the victim’s potential income.
The court considers how much the individual would have made if the wrongful death did not occur. The estate can get some of the earnings in a settlement and the funeral costs. The decedent’s holdings may have a charge for burial expenses. Therefore, the representative can claim the loss in a wrongful death lawsuit.
In addition, the deceased’s estate may recover any medical expenses and funeral costs it paid. A wrongful death attorney can help the personal representative determine what damages go into the settlement.
What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death case must have a few elements to become valid. The first one is an established duty of care. The defendant must have had an obligation to avoid doing the victim harm. In motor vehicle accidents, the other driver is responsible for keeping others on the road safe. Meanwhile, a landowner has to keep the environment safe for visitors.
After you establish the relationship, you must show evidence the other party did or did not do something and failed to meet their duty of care. As a direct result, an accident occurred. The incident then led to the individual’s death.
The last element is the person’s death has resulted in damages. Damages typically include monetary losses like healthcare expenses. Another example would be the traumatic event’s impact on surviving family members and dependents.
How Do You Pay a Wrongful Death Attorney?
Many wrongful death lawyers use a contingency fee payment. A person generally pays an attorney with a portion of the settlement funds. Discussions happen during the consultation, and the client agrees on the amount of the settlement they will pay before they hire the lawyer.
Usually, the amount is around 33 percent of compensation. However, the percentage may be more or less depending on the case and how far through the process it gets. The fee’s size can depend on the law firm’s location and the lawsuit’s complexity. Furthermore, the attorney may use a sliding scale. Regardless, you usually only pay if the lawyer wins.
You do not have to pay an attorney fee if you lose your case. However, you may be responsible for additional litigation costs like filing expenses. You can talk to your lawyer if you have any concerns about payment and to learn of the specifics of the payment plan.
Who Can You Sue for Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death covers a variety of accidents. Therefore, the opposing party can consist of different people or entities. A fatal car, truck, motorcycle, or pedestrian accident may have occurred because of driver error. You would sue the other motorist for their carelessness.
Alternatively, the victim’s death happened due to a flawed product or vehicle part. Therefore, the manufacturer is liable for the damages. You could sue the distributor for the defective component as well. However, the defendant could be the government as well.
A person can sue a local government agency in Florida for negligence-based accidents. A government worker, poor street design, or ill-maintained road may have caused the wrongful death. Therefore, living relatives may be eligible for compensation.
Other possible liable parties include property owners. They must remove environmental hazards and sufficiently warn visitors of potential dangers. The property manager or store manager can be accountable as well.
The negligent party may not be clear. However, a wrongful death lawyer investigates the case. They can determine who owes you compensation for the passing of a loved one.
Find a Wrongful Death Lawyer
The death of a loved one can leave family members with a lot of grief and stress. In addition to personal affairs, they have to worry about legal matters. The law can grant them the chance to pursue compensation, but the legal process takes time. Our Florida personal injury lawyers can handle the lawsuit for you.
We at Holliday Karatinos Law Firm are ready to answer questions and assist you in any way we can. Our office locations include Brooksville, Lutz, and Inverness. Visit our website to learn more, and contact us at (352) 597-0009 to talk to our compassionate Florida wrongful death lawyers for free.
"Attorney James Holliday is the best attorney I have ever worked with. I went to him after an auto accident and I was impressed with his knowledge of the situation and judgement on how to proceed. In the end, Mr. Holliday was able to obtain full compensation. He was also a pleasure to work with."
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Barb C.
Read more of our Google Reviews!