When a person dies due to the negligence of another entity, their immediate family may be able to sue those responsible for the loss. Florida law limits who can file wrongful death lawsuits and how long individuals can file such claims, so it’s best to file the claim sooner rather than later.
But the same approach doesn’t hold true for negotiating wrongful death settlements in Florida, and here’s why.
Insurance Companies May Try to Settle to Save Money
As grim as it sounds, insurance companies will sometimes try to settle a wrongful death claim quickly to prevent the lawsuit from uncovering additional liability, neglect, and the like.
With that in mind, it’s best to consult with a Florida wrongful death lawyer to ensure that you’re getting the highest settlement offer possible.
You’re Likely Entitled to More Compensation Than You Think
Wrongful death settlement offers may not include all the compensation to which you’re entitled. According to Florida law, you and your loved ones may be entitled to compensation for medical costs, loss of income, loss of support, loss of parental guidance, loss of instruction, loss of companionship, funeral expenses, travel expenses, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, and more.
As noted, the party you’re settling with is more than likely going to try to get you to agree to an offer far below what you deserve for your loss and pain. This is another reason you must work with an experienced Florida wrongful death lawyer who will put you and your needs first.
Attorney and Legal Fees May Come Out of the Settlement Total
If you think that a settlement offer is fair, consider how the total of the offer will be affected by the deduction of attorney and legal fees, as well as any taxes.
Though wrongful death settlements aren’t always taxed, there are exceptions, which is why you must work with an experienced Florida wrongful death lawyer who will fight for you to get the compensation you deserve.
A Wrongful Death Settlement May Mean Sacrificing Punitive Damages
The awards discussed above are considered compensatory, which means they are meant to compensate you for your loss. But there is a second category of possible awards in Florida wrongful death lawsuits: punitive damages.
Punitive damages are meant to punish the liable party for the wrongful death. Depending on case details, Florida may cap total possible punitive awards to $500,000 or $2 million. In some cases, Florida law states there is no cap to punitive damages.
To be entitled to these damages, a wrongful death lawsuit must provide evidence that the death was caused by intentional misconduct or gross negligence. State law defines this to mean that the liable party knew of the wrongfulness of the conduct and the risk to the decedent yet still engaged in the conduct or the defendant acted so recklessly as to be considered indifferent to the decedent’s safety, life, or rights.
The Payout Method Determines How Long You’ll Have to Deal with the Liable Party
When a wrongful death settlement amount has been agreed upon, the parties must then decide on a payout method. Settlement payments usually are paid as lump sums or structured payments over a set period of time. The former method allows the grieving party to pay off related bills and debts quicker, potentially saving them from costly interest accrual and fees.
Unfortunately, that option is not always available.
This is an important variable in wrongful death settlements as the payout method dictates how long the grieving party must interact and keep the liable party in their lives. The emotional and financial stress of this decision cannot be understated, especially as settlement payout methods cannot be changed once agreed upon.
Need help with a wrongful death claim or settlement negotiation?
Contact a Florida wrongful death attorney today.
At Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, we handle wrongful death lawsuits with the utmost care and compassion. We understand that you’re going through an incredibly difficult time and grieving an impossible loss. That’s why we’re here to help you get the compensation you need, whether that means taking cases to court or negotiating wrongful death settlements.
Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey, & Fronrath has won our clients millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.