The death of a loved one is a deeply traumatic experience, no matter the circumstances associated with the death. But when a loved one’s death is preventable, as it was caused by another person’s negligence or wrongdoing, an already horrible experience is made even worse. While no amount of money can truly compensate for the loss of life, compensation may be available to surviving family members when a death is caused by negligence.
Our team of Tampa personal injury lawyers has significant experience in representing families in wrongful death actions of all kinds. We understand that wrongful death lawsuits are emotional affairs that require the highest degree of care, concern, and advocacy. We’re ready to assist you and your family today in navigating through this very difficult time, and we’re ready to hear from you today. Contact our office to set up a free consultation with a member of our team.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of personal injury case in which surviving family members of a deceased person seek compensation for the loss of their loved one. To succeed in a wrongful death lawsuit, a plaintiff’s family must be able to show that their loved one’s death was caused by another person or entity’s negligence or wrongdoing. Wrongful death cases arise in any situation where injuries occur that result in death, but the most common types of wrongful death lawsuits include the following:
- Medical malpractice
- Car accidents and truck accidents
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Incidents involving defective products
- Intentional actions, including criminal activity
In addition to these types of cases, though, a wrongful death can arise any time a person dies because of someone else’s wrongful actions. If you believe your family may have a viable wrongful death claim, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Florida law requires that a wrongful death lawsuit be filed by the executor, or personal representative, of a deceased person’s estate. Usually, that person is identified in a deceased person’s will, and when the person dies without a will, the executor is their surviving next of kin. In Florida, a person’s surviving spouse is the first choice next of kin. If there is no surviving spouse, then the next closest relative usually serves as the personal representative, unless the surviving family members would prefer for another relative to serve. In wrongful death situations, deciding on a personal representative can be an important choice, as that person serves as the plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Time for Filing a Wrongful Death Case
Unfortunately, Florida law requires that all wrongful death lawsuits are filed within two years of the deceased victim’s death. If a claim is not filed before that date, a family will usually lose their right to file a case. While two years sounds like plenty of time, it isn’t as much time as you might think, because that two-year deadline applies to when a case is actually filed in court. Before filing, your attorneys will need to conduct a background investigation on your case and determine where the case should be filed, who it should be filed against, and what types of damages your case will seek. Those investigations take time, and to maximize your chances of success, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible about a prospective wrongful death lawsuit.
Damages Available in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
All personal injury cases, including wrongful death lawsuits, are designed to fully and fairly compensate an injured plaintiff for their injuries caused by someone else. But in wrongful death cases, those injuries are limited to the losses sustained by the surviving family because of their loved one’s death. Those damages can be attributed to the surviving family directly and to the deceased person’s estate. Among the most common types of damages usually sought in a wrongful death lawsuit include the following:
- Loss of companionship and support provided to family members
- Pain and suffering by the family members
- Loss of parental guidance, support, and companionship
- Medical expenses paid by a family member or out of the estate
- Lost wages that the deceased could have been expected to earn
- Funeral expenses and burial costs paid by a family member or from the estate
In total, the damages in a wrongful death case are usually more complex than the damages in a personal injury case. For that reason, it is imperative that you and your family entrust an experienced and capable wrongful death attorney with your case. If we’re able to represent you, we will seek to recover the maximum amount of damages that may be available to your family under the law.
Wrongful Death Punitive Damages
In cases involving severe allegations of wrongdoing that arise from reckless or intentional behavior, punitive damages may be available for families of deceased victims. While these types of damages are not available in all cases, they can greatly increase the amount of money awarded to plaintiffs in wrongful death cases. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for extreme behavior, and also to provide a deterrent against similar behavior in the future. In every case, our attorneys take a close and honest look at whether punitive damages may be available, and we will advise you accordingly.
Contact Our Wrongful Death Team Today
Our team of attorneys understands that wrongful death cases are a unique and complex type of lawsuit that requires the utmost care and attention. We understand that wrongful death plaintiffs are grieving the loss of a loved one, and our practice is driven by empathy, compassion, and justice for wrongful death clients.
We offer free, no-risk consultations to anyone who believes they may have a viable case for wrongful death, and we’re ready to hear from you and your family. Contact us today to set up an appointment with a member of our team about your prospective wrongful death case.