Our loved ones provide us with companionship, guidance, comfort, financial support, and much more. Unfortunately, when a loved one dies, all of this goes away. If your loved one has died due to another person’s negligent behavior, you may be eligible to seek financial compensation for your losses through a wrongful death lawsuit. However, before you file a lawsuit for wrongful death, you need the right wrongful death lawyer on your side.
At Harrell & Harrell, P.A., our experienced attorneys understand the grief caused by a death in the family. And, unfortunately, we also know all too well how difficult it can be for surviving family members to meet their financial obligations while also paying their loved one’s outstanding hospital bills, funeral bills, and other expenses. It is this understanding that motivates our lawyers to seek the maximum compensation for our clients while remaining compassionate and empathetic to their needs.
No one expects to be faced with an untimely death. However, when it happens due to another person’s negligence, you and your family deserve to be compensated for your losses. In this article, we explain what you need to know about hiring the right wrongful death attorney.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
When a person dies due to the misconduct or negligence of another, certain surviving family members may sue the responsible party for wrongful death. A wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the survivors’ losses. Common losses include lost wages, lost companionship, and funeral expenses.
Choosing the Right Wrongful Death Lawyer
When a family member dies due to someone else’s negligent behavior, it is imperative to choose an experienced attorney. With the right attorney in your corner, your odds of a successful outcome in your claim for wrongful death increase drastically. When choosing a lawyer to handle your wrongful death case, you should do the following:
- Choose an attorney who focuses on personal injury law: Wrongful death is a kind of personal injury case. Therefore, following the death of a family member, you should choose an attorney who specializes in personal injury law.
- Choose an attorney who has experience handling wrongful death cases: Although wrongful death is a type of personal injury, not all personal injury attorneys have experience handling wrongful death cases. Therefore, when you meet with an attorney to discuss your case, make sure that he or she has ample wrongful death experience. The more wrongful death experience your attorney has, the better.
- Choose a lawyer who isn’t afraid to go to trial: Most personal injury cases settle before trial. However, your attorney should be ready and willing to go to trial, if necessary. Therefore, during your initial consultation with a personal injury attorney, you should determine whether he or she has any trial experience.
- Choose a lawyer with a track record of success: Although past results don’t guarantee future success, they are a good sign that an attorney has a solid idea of what it takes to succeed in a wrongful death lawsuit. When choosing an attorney, a strong track record of success is always a positive sign.
- Choose an attorney who has a history of successful past cases: A successful attorney should be eager to share the outcome of his or her past verdicts and settlements with you, and should be easily accessible either on their website, through online reviews, or if requested in person.
How a Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help You
If you’re currently dealing with the death of a loved one, there are many ways that a lawyer can help you navigate your wrongful death lawsuit, including:
A lawyer understands the legal process: Lawyers who are highly experienced trying wrongful death cases have a deep knowledge of the personal injury legal process. When you hire an attorney to represent you, you benefit from this knowledge and experience. As your case moves forward, your attorney will walk you through the process and ensure that your rights are fully protected. In addition, your lawyer will ensure that all deadlines are met, and all legal documents are completed and properly filed.
An attorney can save you time and money: A wrongful death case can be very time consuming—especially if you attempt to navigate the process alone. Without an experienced lawyer on your side, it’s very easy to make mistakes, and these mistakes can cost time and money. The legal process is extremely complicated and has many requirements and deadlines. With an attorney on your side, you can rest assured that all documents will be filed, and all deadlines will be met, thereby avoiding serious mistakes and saving you valuable resources.
An attorney understands the true value of your claim: It is practically impossible to accurately estimate the value of your claim without the help of an attorney. Personal injury lawyers routinely assess and value claims, making it imperative that you hire an attorney if you truly want to understand what your claim may be worth. Your attorney will analyze several factors when valuing your claim, including:
- Medical expenses for your loved one’s care
- Loss of earnings
- Funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering
An attorney will support you: Losing a family member is difficult. When you hire a lawyer to assist you during your time of need, he or she will be a source of support for you and your grieving family. In addition to the emotional pain of losing a loved one, the financial stress that can accompany such a loss can be crushing. Hiring an attorney, however, gives you peace of mind that someone is working hard to obtain financial compensation on your behalf. In addition, your attorney will handle the details of your legal case, thereby allowing you to focus on healing and being with your loved ones during this trying time.
An attorney can take your case to trial: Although most cases settle, there is a chance that your case will make it to trial. If your case does go to trial, your attorney will handle the process from start to finish, doing whatever it takes to increase your odds of a successful outcome.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Florida, the personal representative of a deceased person’s estate can file a claim for wrongful death on behalf of certain family members of the deceased. In Florida, the following people may recover damages in a lawsuit for wrongful death:
- The spouse of the decedent
- The parents of the decedent
- The children of the decedent
- Any blood relative or adoptive brother or sister of the decedent who is partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for services or support
How Long You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida
Each state has its statute of limitations for wrongful death. A statute of limitations establishes a timeline for filing a legal claim. In Florida, a party may file a lawsuit for wrongful death within two years of the date of an individual’s death. However, there are some circumstances under which this deadline may be extended. Therefore, to determine if you may file a lawsuit for wrongful death in Florida, you should contact an attorney for a consultation.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Claims
A person may file a claim for wrongful death when his or her family member dies due to another’s negligence. Although this covers a variety of different situations, the most common types of claims for wrongful death include the following:
Vehicle crashes: Vehicle crashes, including car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle crashes, are the most common cause of wrongful death in Florida. Unfortunately, Florida averages hundreds of vehicle accidents each day, and this results in thousands of deaths each year. Many of these deaths are the result of negligence. Drivers who cause fatal accidents due to speeding, distracted driving, reckless driving, or impaired driving may be held liable for wrongful death.
Pedestrian and bicycle accidents: Pedestrians and cyclists are particularly vulnerable to serious accidents. Since pedestrians and cyclists are largely unprotected when traveling, even a slight collision with a vehicle can result in life-threatening injuries.
Defective products: Prescription drugs, motor vehicles, medical devices, and other poorly- designed consumer products routinely cause fatalities. Manufacturers, health care professionals, and resellers can all be held liable when a person’s death is caused by a defective product.
Workplace accidents: Accidents in the workplace often result in the death of employees. Workers in dangerous professions are particularly vulnerable to being killed while on the job. Roofers, factory workers, construction workers, firefighters, electricians, agricultural workers, and ironworkers are just a few of the employees whose occupations routinely place them in dangerous situations. However, even in these dangerous professions, employers are required by law to keep the workplace safe and prevent harm to their employees while they are working. When an employee dies because of his or her employer’s negligence, the deceased worker’s family members can file a claim for wrongful death.
Medical malpractice: Although most medical professionals do a great job, they are human, and they sometimes make mistakes. Unfortunately, mistakes in the medical field can be deadly. If a patient’s death is the result of negligence by a doctor or other healthcare provider, surviving family members may be able to seek wrongful death compensation through a medical malpractice claim.
Slip and fall accidents: Although most slip and fall victims survive, these types of accidents only occasionally result in death. If it can be proven that a property owner or manager was aware of a dangerous condition that caused a deadly slip and fall accident, the victim’s family may file a claim against the property or business owner.
Wrongful Death Damages
If your wrongful death case is successful, you will be entitled to damages, which is compensation for your losses stemming from your loved one’s death. Under Florida law, damages in a wrongful death suit fall under two categories: (1) damages that are awarded to the deceased person’s family, and (2) damages that are awarded to the deceased person’s estate. Examples of damages paid to the decedent’s family commonly include compensation for:
- The loss of the services and support the deceased person provided his or her family members
- The loss of the decedent’s protection and companionship
- Mental pain and suffering
- The loss of parental instruction, guidance, and companionship
- Medical and funeral expenses
Examples of damages paid to the decedent’s estate include compensation for:
- Lost wages, benefits, and additional earnings from the date of the deceased person’s injury to the date of his or her death
- The value of benefits and earnings the deceased person could reasonably have been expected to keep as savings and leave as part of the estate had he or she lived
- Medical and funeral expenses that were paid directly by the estate
When to Consult with a Wrongful Death Lawyer
If you’ve lost a family member due to someone else’s negligence, you should schedule a consultation with a lawyer as soon as possible. After the death of a loved one, you only have one opportunity to obtain the compensation you deserve, so you must act quickly to ensure that your rights are protected.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you are ready to begin your road to emotional and financial recovery, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Harrell & Harrell, P.A., are on your side. There is a reason that so many people in Florida have selected Harrell & Harrell to represent them. At Harrell & Harrell, our experienced legal team provides aggressive representation for the family members of those who’ve been killed due to another’s negligence. Our track record of successful verdicts and settlements speaks for itself. If your loved one was killed due to another’s negligence, it is imperative that you contact a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to ensure that you don’t miss your opportunity to receive full compensation for your losses. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our talented and knowledgeable personal injury attorneys.