For most people, monetary compensation will never make up for the loss of a loved one. Still, it could help, especially if the decedent had provided financial support to those left behind. Besides potential Social Security payments, such compensation is not given freely when a person dies. However, if the negligent actions of others caused your loved one’s death, you have the right under Florida law to seek financial compensation from those responsible.
The personal injury lawyers at Tallahassee-based Akbar Thomas Law Firm, PA, suggest that you should always seek legal advice if you believe that other people, a business, or any other entity directly or indirectly caused the death of your loved one. Skilled personal injury lawyers can investigate the circumstances that led up to the death to determine if you have grounds to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. Read on to learn more about Florida’s wrongful death statutes and the steps you should take to make a wrongful death claim.
What Counts as a Wrongful Death?
According to Florida statutes, a wrongful death applies when someone’s death was caused by a “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person.” The law goes on to explain that a wrongful death case is applicable if the event causing the death had instead caused injuries that would be liable for damage claims under personal injury law. Any number of negligent actions can serve as cause for a wrongful death lawsuit, but among the most common are:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Unsafe property conditions
- Criminal actions
- Water-related accidents
When Can a Wrongful Death Lawsuit be Filed?
Florida law allows two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim. The decedent’s estate files wrongful death lawsuits by the executor or personal representative as named in the deceased’s will or estate plan. If the decedent does not have a personal representative, the court will appoint one. As a surviving spouse or loved one, you can consult with a lawyer to assess whether negligence caused the death. Ultimately, though, the estate’s personal representative will take a leading role on behalf of the family in helping to build a case.
Steps Taken During a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Several steps need to be taken in advance of and during a wrongful death case. If you believe that negligence caused your loved one’s death, you should strive to document the events that led up to the death and preserve any physical evidence. Naturally, this step may prove difficult while grieving your loss. Therefore, another step you should take as soon as you feel mentally prepared for it is for you or the estate’s personal representative to contact a personal injury lawyer. A competent personal injury lawyer will be able to help you gather any relevant evidence and paperwork (medical bills, police reports, death certificate, decedent’s earning history, etc.), investigate the circumstances of the death, and determine whether there is a clear case of negligence.
After these steps, your lawyer will prepare and file the complaint with the court. The filing names the alleged negligent parties, a description of the negligence actions that led to the death, and the damage amounts the decedent’s estate is seeking.
In most cases, the court will recommend mediation, or the defendant and/or his insurance company will initiate negotiations to settle the matter without a trial. Your lawyer will negotiate with the defense in an effort to secure a reasonable settlement. If the evidence strongly supports the claims of negligence, your lawyer will likely push for the amount sought in the filing.
If negotiations fail to settle, the case will move to trial, which involves several phases, such as discovery, disposition of pre-trial motions, and the actual trial with the presentation of evidence and any witness testimony. Settlement negotiations can continue during the trial, which sometimes leads to a resolution before a verdict is rendered.
Consult with Akbar Thomas Law Firm, PA, on Your Wrongful Death Claim
If you have lost a loved one due to the apparent negligence of others, you should seek professional help from a skilled personal injury lawyer. The personal injury lawyers at Akbar Thomas Law firm, PA, are dedicated to helping their Tallahassee-area clients secure the most favorable damages in wrongful death cases. Our experienced lawyers thoroughly assess all details of each wrongful death claim to build the most robust case possible. We understand your pain and provide compassionate guidance and updates throughout the wrongful death claims process. To learn more about how Akbar Thomas Law Firm, PA, can help you and your family, contact us today at 850-383-0000.