Losing a loved one can be incredibly difficult, especially if that loss happened at the hands of another. Your loved one’s death may have been an accident, but knowing that doesn’t make the pain any easier to bear.
If you’re struggling after losing a relative due to someone’s negligence, you may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim. Insurance companies or the defendants might have to compensate you for the loss of your family member.
A Florida wrongful death attorney can explain what to do to prove wrongful death and manage your case while you and your family grieve.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death cases involve four elements that your lawyer will need to prove:
- The defendant owed your loved one a duty of care. For instance, drivers owe their passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians a duty to drive safely and follow traffic laws. Homeowners have a duty to keep guests safe from hazards, such as fallen tree branches and aggressive dogs.
- The defendant violated their duty. For example, a driver may violate their duty of care by speeding or running red lights.
- The defendant’s negligence caused your loved one’s death. This is fairly simple to prove in some cases, but not in others. It’s easy to prove that your loved one died because someone ran a light, for example. Other cases, such as medical malpractice, can be harder to prove.
- You suffered damages because of your loved one’s death. Damages could include funeral expenses or the loss of income from your loved one’s job.
Steps to Take to Prove Wrongful Death
If you would like to take legal action against someone for their negligence, you can’t simply file a lawsuit and wait for a settlement. You’ll need to do a few things for a successful claim.
First, you must determine who can file a wrongful death claim. In Florida, only the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can do this. You may find this person’s name in the will or estate plan.
If your loved one didn’t name a personal representative, the court will choose one of the surviving family members to serve instead. This may be the spouse, adult children, or parents.
You’ll also need to file a claim promptly. In Florida, the time limit for a wrongful death claim is two years. That means you have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to make a wrongful death claim. If you go beyond the two-year limit, the state will not let you file suit.
Wrongful Death Claim Damages
What type of wrongful death claim damages can you expect? The insurance company or court may award you compensation for:
- Loss of support and services from the deceased
- Loss of romantic or parental companionship
- Medical expenses from the date of the deceased’s injury to the date of their death
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of earnings
The court may also award you punitive damages if the defendant acted maliciously or extremely negligently.
Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney in Florida
The loss of a loved one is never easy, but compensation from a wrongful death claim can make it a little easier to bear financially. If you would like to learn more about filing a claim, reach out to a Florida wrongful death attorney from Warner & Fitzmartin today. We have years of experience helping clients seek justice in the Lake Worth, FL, area.
Call us at (561) 803-0167 for a free consultation now.