When the death of a person is caused by negligence or the wrongful act of any person, they become liable for damages. Claims for wrongful death are emotionally draining and require sensitive legal partners and a team of experts dedicated to supporting you. After the wrongful death of a loved one, contact our compassionate wrongful death lawyers to serve justice for you and your loved ones.
Wrongful Death Attorney in Pompano Beach FL
When you’ve lost it all, don’t settle for empty apologies. You and your family deserve more. A claim for wrongful death can be filed against a defendant who has caused someone’s death either negligently or through intentional harm.
If you or someone you know has grieved the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of someone else, A claim for wrongful death permits you to file a lawsuit against a person or entity legally liable for someone’s death. Even though no legal claim can heal the suffering of just having lost a loved one, it will give you and your family justice. At LJW Legal, we understand how difficult this situation can be, which is why our wrongful death attorneys care for these cases with extreme sensitivity.
What is a wrongful death claim?
According to Florida statute 768.19, a wrongful death claim is a civil action lawsuit that can be filed if a person’s death is caused by either the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract of another person or entity. A wrongful death case in South Florida must be filed within two years of the date of death, according to Florida Statutes 95.11(4) (a)(d).
Put simply, a wrongful death claim is a legal action that surviving members of a family or an estate can take after a person has died due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional act. A claim for wrongful death is designed to help surviving members of a family or dependants seek compensation for the losses and damages they have suffered — and will continue to suffer — as a result of the death of the victim.
These damages include things like loss of financial support, funeral expenses, medical bills, emotional distress, loss of companionship, loss of future income and investments, and more.
These claims stem from a variety of situations that include things like car accidents, medical malpractice, workplace accidents, and criminal acts.
In order to pursue a claim for wrongful death or lawsuit, the claimants must be able to show that the defendant’s actions (or inactions) caused or contributed to the victim’s death. Attorneys like medical malpractice attorneys will be able to review the facts and make sense of the path forward to financial justice.
Who can file wrongful death claims?
Typically, the parties listed below are those that are eligible to file a wrongful death claim:
- The spouse of the deceased person
- Children of the deceased, including adopted children and children born out of wedlock who are dependent on the deceased for financial support
- Parents of the deceased in cases where there is no surviving spouse or children
- Any blood relative or adoptive sibling who was a dependent to the deceased
Personal representatives of the deceased’s estate may also file this claim on behalf of any or all of the survivors listed above or on behalf of the estate itself. This depends on specific factors that a wrongful death lawyer will help you understand during your initial consultation.
Florida’s wrongful death statute of limitations
Florida law allows survivors two years from the date of the victim’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit, after which time the survivors will likely lose their right to seek compensation for their losses.
There are exceptions to this rule, such as in cases where the cause of death is not immediately apparent, or the at-fault party concealed their involvement in the death. In these cases, the statute of limitations may be extended but will need to be reviewed by the Florida courts before an extension is authorized.
Two years may seem like a long time, and many survivors put off their legal issues as they work to come to terms with their tragic loss. It’s important, however, to connect with an attorney as soon as possible after the wrongful death because these cases can take significant time and resources in order to perform a proper investigation and prepare a comprehensive claim.
The team at LJW Legal understands how difficult this time can be and pride ourselves on our compassion and ability to help survivors get the justice they deserve. We are here to answer any questions you may have and discuss how we can help you work towards a fair outcome while reducing your stress about your legal issues at the same time. Contact us right away to get this process started, so that you may return to your healing process knowing that a dedicated team of legal professionals is fighting for justice on your behalf.
Reasons to use an attorney for a wrongful death case
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior, it’s important that you understand the benefits of working with an experienced attorney from the start. The following are a few of the best reasons to work with a lawyer — all of which we will be happy to discuss in greater detail, as they pertain to your unique situation, during our initial consultation.
As with all personal injury and tort law matters, wrongful death is part of a complex legal system that can be nearly impenetrable for the average person. Defense attorneys and insurance companies recognize this and use it to their advantage by working to overwhelm plaintiffs or claimants into either settling cases for far less than what they deserve or working to avoid paying anything at all.
As you try to process the tragic loss of a loved one, trying to make sense of this system —while effectively advocating for yourself — can be overwhelming. An experienced attorney is an invaluable asset during this time that can simplify complicated legal matters and help you understand what is going on in your case, as well as what may be coming next.
Your lawyer will have the know-how to conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. They will gather evidence and use this to create a comprehensive narrative about what happened and who was involved.
However, simply telling the story isn’t enough: once your attorney has completed a thorough investigation, they will use this evidence to build a legal case using their deep understanding of legal precedents, laws, and rules that are designed to protect the survivors of this type of tragedy.
Once they have built their case, they will be able to move forward with the process of calculating and then fighting to recover the compensation that you rightfully deserve.
An insurance company or defense attorney may find that the case is so cut and dry that there is no denying that their client is 100% responsible for the accident, but will then work to avoid paying the damages that a surviving family is rightfully owed.
The first step towards a successful negotiation process is to develop a clear understanding of the damages the victims have suffered and find reasonable dollar values to apply to each. This will happen before negotiations even begin because your attorney will want to be prepared with hard facts before opening a dialogue with the other party.
They will initiate the negotiation process by issuing a demand letter, whether through a claim or at the time of filing a lawsuit, that addresses all of these damages and includes compelling calculations for each before showing the total amount being requested. The insurance company is almost certain to issue a counteroffer, which is often shockingly low.
Your attorney will then work to negotiate on your behalf, identifying the possible settlement options that are available and helping you understand your options while letting you determine whether or not to keep pressing for a number closer to your initial calculation.
Without the support of an experienced legal professional, victims may find themselves being intimidated or bullied by the at-fault party in an attempt to manipulate a low settlement. With a lawyer handling this often-contentious process on your behalf, you can stay focused on your healing journey while a dedicated professional fight for what you are owed.
Many wrongful death cases are settled before ever seeing trial. In fact, many are settled before a lawsuit is even filed; however, this is not always the case, and if your attorney is unable to reach a satisfactory settlement agreement — or they believe that you may be a candidate for punitive damages, which are not part of a settlement and are only awarded by a judge or jury — then you may decide with their help that filing a lawsuit and taking your case to the Florida courts is in your best interests.
Throughout the official process, there will be a number of opportunities for reconsidering a settlement agreement, and many defendants will push for a settlement in order to avoid being deposed or see that their chances of a successful trial are slim as evidence is introduced. However, if your case does go to trial it will be important to have an attorney representing your case that understands the court process because they have had previous trial experience.
After the loss of a loved one, there are many in your social circle that you may be able to reach out to for emotional support, but they will not be able to provide you with the support that will also alleviate stressors about the legal process. Your attorney will be able to help mitigate stress that may be hampering your emotional recovery by answering important questions and ensuring that you are able to make sound decisions throughout the process.
They will also act as a compassionate ally who understands the gravity of your situation and will fight to ensure that you are able to receive the compensation that you deserve. Your friends and family are an irreplaceable support system, but having a caring advocate guiding you through your legal case is equally important as you work towards the goal of fair compensation for your losses.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims
There are many types of wrongful death lawsuits. In south Florida these claims are applicable when a victim who would otherwise file a personal injury claim is killed as a result of negligence or intentional harm. Wrongful death cases can arise out of many circumstances, including:
- Medical malpractice
- Automobile or airplane accident involving negligence
- Occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals or conditions
- Criminal behavior
- Death during a supervised activity
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in South Florida?
To file a wrongful death claim, the plaintiffs must prove the fault of these claims against the defendant. For example, in the event of negligence, the plaintiffs must determine the defendant breached their duty of care, that this was a direct or proximate cause of death, and that the death caused the damages the plaintiff is demanding to recover.
In South Florida, wrongful death is often filed by a representative of the estate of the deceased victim. In most cases, wrongful death damages are awarded to spouses, minor children, and parents of a minor child. In some cases, adult children and parents of adult children can also be awarded damages.
Wrongful Death Damages
The Florida Statutes 768.21 sets the state’s rules for the wrongful death damages the surviving family members may receive. These can be based on the losses experienced from the moment of the negligent act causing the death, until the time of the decedent’s death. Alternatively, they can be a broader category that covers all damages experienced by the next of kin after the deceased’s death. Surviving family members can file a claim for:
- Loss of prospective net accumulations of an estate
- The loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection
- Any medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent’s injury or death
- Loss of earnings of the deceased from the date of injury to the time of death
- The value of lost support and services from the day of the decedent’s injury until their death
- Loss of parental companionship, instruction, and guidance for mental pain and suffering from the date of the decedent’s injury
Also, depending on the circumstances surrounding this claim, the surviving family can also claim punitive damages. These are awarded when the defendant engaged in reckless or egregious conduct resulting in the death of the deceased. Punitive damages are specifically designed to punish the defendant in an attempt to deter similar behavior in the future.
Build Your Defense Team
Family members of the deceased are responsible for meeting the “burden of proof,” which is a way of saying they must present proof of negligence by a preponderance of the evidence. In this case, working with a wrongful death lawyer to represent you and your family helps ensure you follow the right steps to proving the defendant’s negligence and claiming justice for your family member.
Working with Wrongful Death Attorneys in South Florida
If you or someone you know has faced the unspeakable burden of losing a loved one to the hands of a negligent party whether it was a car accident, truck accident, construction accident, etc, don’t hesitate to fight for justice and hold those liable accountable for their irresponsible actions. Reach out to one of the wrongful death attorneys at LJW Legal; they will care for your family with sensitivity, loyalty, and perseverance so we can face negligence with consequences, and prevent these parties from hurting any more families in the future.