Blogs By K Ryan

woman coping with grief and loss

Emotional Responses to Losing a Loved One

Whether your loved one was taken from you suddenly or slowly over time, their absence is painful. The sudden empty dining room chair. Their forgotten half-full mug on the counter. The missed Sunday night phone call. 

You are not alone in feeling the devastating effects of losing a loved one. Here are a few of the most common emotions that arise when coping with grief and loss.

 

Anxiety

If your loved one was your household’s main breadwinner or provided critical daily support, such as in the case of a caretaker, their death may release a host of anxieties. 

As unhelpful as it sounds, your anxieties may be grounded in reality. But some of them might not be. The latter anxieties can be helped with coping mechanisms such as prioritizing sleep, developing a go-to phrase to stop negativity spirals, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation

That said, the value of a good therapist or friend shouldn’t be underestimated when coping with grief and loss.

For anxieties rooted in reality, you may be able to get assistance from local social services. Social workers can help connect you with programs and services to help ensure your care.

 

Denial 

When faced with admitting that a loved one is gone, some people will go into shock, deny the loss entirely, downplay what’s going on, or refuse to address any related issues, such as funeral planning. This is a coping mechanism that partially protects people from feeling vulnerable or unsafe. 

In some cases, short-term denial can be helpful because it gives people a chance to process the trauma and loss they’ve just experienced. However, denial is an attractive haven from pain and suffering, which means some people will hold onto this feeling for as long as possible. That leads to people refusing to take necessary action, which can prolong the grieving process.

Overcoming denial involves bravely facing the facts about your situation. This is a difficult step to take and may require the support of others.

 

Despair

Perhaps the most ubiquitous emotional response to grief, despair is a loss of hope. Without your loved one, what more is there to look forward to? Despair can easily morph into depression when coping with grief and loss, so you must work with a licensed mental health professional who can safely guide you through the grieving process.

Though you may not consciously recognize despair, your behavior tells a different story. You may find yourself exhausted, unable to sleep or sleeping too much without being rested. Your food may expire as you forget to eat because you’ve completely lost your appetite. Perhaps your usually clean home goes untidied and calls go unreturned.

If you feel that despair has crept into your home and isolated you from your support network and life, reach out to your loved ones or care team, regardless of how long you’ve ignored their calls or texts. Despair demands outside help. It’s extremely hard, but you need to ask for it.

 

Guilt

Guilt that arises alongside coping with grief and loss comes in two main forms: self-blame and regret.

If your internal monologue keeps telling you that you could have prevented your loved one’s death if only you acted differently, you’re dealing with guilt. This type of internal monologue means that you’re placing at least some of the responsibility for your loved one’s passing on yourself. Not only is that cruel and unhelpful, it likely isn’t true. You cannot control everything, and you can’t account for all variables all the time.

Reach out to your family and friends to ask for help and hear a more objective point of view. In addition, working with a therapist may help you to move past this guilt.

 

Are you struggling with loss?

You are not alone. Ask for help from friends and family if possible. Consider seeking out a therapist and a support group regardless of the status of your current support network. Support groups allow you to connect with and hear from people who have suffered similar losses.

If you need immediate emotional support, contact the SAMSA national hotline at 1-800-662-4357 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

 

Have you lost a loved one due to negligence or misconduct?

Contact an experienced Florida wrongful death lawyer today. At Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, wrongful death cases are handled with compassion and care. 

We know that pursuing legal action may seem impossible amid grief and shock. That’s why we’re here to help. Call us at (561) 655-1990 or visit our website to schedule your free consultation.

Doctor is worried and stressed after wrongful death suit.

Wrongful Death: Hospital Liability

Though surgeries and medical treatments come with inherent risks, it’s still a shock if a loved one dies in the care of qualified medical professionals.

In Florida, the death of a loved one entrusted to the care of medical professionals and entities can be met with a wrongful death claim. But just how liable are entities like hospitals in wrongful death cases?

What is wrongful death?

In Florida, a wrongful death is a death caused by another person or entity’s negligence, default, breach of contract or warranty, or a wrongful act.

There are several types of wrongful death claims. The type most relevant to hospital liability is medical malpractice and negligence.

What constitutes medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice is what happens when an injury or death is caused by a medical provider, which can be a health care practitioner or entity.

Common types of medical malpractice include wrong or delayed diagnoses, medication errors, and surgical errors.

Liability of Healthcare Facilities and Hospitals

According to state law, hospitals are responsible for comprehensive risk management and staff competence.

How does this factor into suing a hospital for wrongful death? Hospitals are liable for the damages that ensue when these duties aren’t met. This means they are liable for instances of personnel or provider negligence or malpractice that causes injury or death when that personnel or provider is an employee of the hospital.

The potential for hospital liability wanes if the negligent provider wasn’t a hospital employee.

Hospitals are also required to have the following:

  • Written procedures for the selection of staff members
  • Ongoing and routine review of medical care provided by every staff member
  • Supervision of medical staff and hospital personnel that ensures the review and risk management processes are executed correctly

This isn’t a comprehensive list of hospital responsibilities. A Florida wrongful death attorney will let you know the options available to you when it comes to suing a hospital for wrongful death.

State law says the ability for a hospital to be held liable for a death changes if the death happened during emergency treatment or care. But the limited liability granted by the above statement is undermined if the death results “from providing, or failing to provide, medical care or treatment under circumstances demonstrating a reckless disregard for the consequences so as to affect the life or health of another.”

In such a case, a valid wrongful death claim arises.

Can I file a wrongful death claim?

In general, immediate family can seek compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Depending on the age of the decedent, eligible survivors may include the decedent’s spouse, minor children, parents, and any blood or adoptive immediate relatives who were wholly or partially dependent on the deceased.

However, there are some cases in which Florida law creates strict limits on who is legally considered a “survivor” with the right to file a wrongful death claim.

In instances in which the deceased is at least 25 years old, unmarried, and without children, their relatives cannot sue for wrongful death. The same is true if the deceased was an unmarried or widowed person with children who are at least 25 years old.

In addition, the law specifies that children born out of wedlock can sue for the wrongful death of their mother, but they cannot sue for the wrongful death of their father unless the father “recognized a responsibility for the child’s support.”

There are exceptions to these limitations, such as in cases in which there are few, if any, minor or immediate surviving relatives of the decedent. Consult with a Florida wrongful death attorney to hear what options are available to you. Contact Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath today for a risk-free consultation.

How to Sue a Hospital for Wrongful Death

In the aftermath of a loved one’s unexpected death during surgery or other treatment at a hospital, taking legal action to hold those involved responsible may seem overwhelming. However, Florida law limits how long you have to seek compensation for the wrongful death of your loved one; You have only two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim, though there are rare exceptions to this limit.

Working with the experienced Florida wrongful death attorneys at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath will let you grieve without having to worry about legal complexities. Contact us today for a free wrongful death case consultation.

What to Do If Your Spouse Is a Victim of Wrongful Death

spousal wrongful deathIf your spouse died as a result of another person’s negligence, the feelings are overwhelming. On top of grieving a death that came too soon, you may also be dealing with hospital bills and other medical expenses. The last thing you should have to do after losing a spouse is worry about how you’re going to manage things financially.

You may be qualified to file a wrongful death claim to recover compensation for your damages. Wrongful death claims are different from murder or homicide cases in that they’re brought to civil court rather than criminal court. 

With the help of a Florida wrongful death lawyer, you can seek compensation for your losses. 

 

What You Need to Know About Wrongful Death Claims in Florida

According to Florida Statute § 678.18, if a person’s death was caused by “the wrongful act, negligence, default or breach of contract” of another individual, the surviving members of the estate (typically a spouse, minor child under 25, or the parents of the decedent) can file a wrongful death claim. 

The statute of limitations, or window of time, to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida is set at two years from the time of death. However, there are certain cases where a personal representative or lawyer for the family can file for an extension. Extensions are not always accepted and the majority of wrongful death claims in Florida are only accepted within the prescribed window of time. 

Two years may seem like more than enough time to file a wrongful death claim. However, when you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, handling funeral arrangements, and taking care of the day-to-day responsibilities that need to be met, navigating a complex legal system is usually not on the surviving family members’ minds. 

 

Potential Wrongful Death Damages 

There is no amount of money in the world that can make up for losing a spouse prematurely. While the monetary compensation you may collect does not make things whole, it can help ease any financial stress you may be experiencing in the aftermath of your loss.

Under Florida Statute § 768.21, surviving spouses may claim the following damages in a wrongful death claim:

  • Medical bills, services, and support expenses incurred from the decedent’s injury to their death 
  • Mental pain and suffering 
  • Loss of companionship and protection
  • Lost wage, loss of future earnings, and benefits provided by the decedent from date of injury to date of death with interest 
  • Loss of prospective net accumulations for the estate 
  • Funeral and burial expenses 

 

An experienced Florida wrongful death lawyer can help you maximize your recovery. While money can never right the wrong you’ve suffered nor bring back your loved one, it can help you cover the damages listed above and let you grieve in peace. 

If you believe you have a wrongful death claim, contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. 

 

How can I prove a wrongful death claim?

Proving wrongful death in Florida can be difficult. You’ll need to establish the following elements in your case to prove wrongful death:

  • Duty of Care: The person held liable had a responsibility of “due care” to the victim.
  • Breach of Duty: The breach or failure of the defendant to uphold that duty of “due care.”
  • Causation: Proof that the breach of duty directly caused the victim’s death.
  • Damages: Proof the victim actually suffered damages (in wrongful death cases, “death” would be the primary damage caused, but there may be others)

Common wrongful death cases our firm has handled include:

  • Car or truck accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Drunk driving
  • Workplace accidents 
  • Defective products
  • Other acts of negligence 

 

Call a Wrongful Death Attorney Today

At Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, we do everything we can to serve our clients with compassion, respect, and the advocacy they deserve. Our firm uses its collective knowledge and experience to help countless spouses recover damages in wrongful death claims. Losing a spouse is a terrible tragedy and nobody deserves to suffer financially in the aftermath of such a loss. 

To learn more about how we handle wrongful death cases in Florida, call us at (561) 655-1990. We urge you to schedule a risk-free case evaluation so we can better understand your situation and ensure we have time to pursue your case within the statute of limitations. 

 

4 Types of Wrongful Death Cases

If you’ve lost a loved one to someone’s negligent or reckless behavior, you may be entitled to compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Florida law states that a wrongful death lawsuit is created when someone succumbs to an injury that would have warranted a personal injury lawsuit. The law allows certain parties to sue on behalf of a decedent whose death was caused by a wrongful act, negligence, or breach of contract or warranty.

Depending on your relationship to the decedent, you may be able to get compensation for mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of support, or loss of companionship in addition to funds for funeral or cremation costs.

Here are four common types of wrongful death cases.

Auto Accidents

Almost every Interstate 95 or US 19 trip involves lane shutdowns due to auto accidents. The sheer number of auto accidents and their resulting injuries makes this one of the main types of wrongful death cases. Federal data states that 36,000 people suffered fatal auto accident injuries in 2019 alone.

There seem to be countless causes for auto accidents, but recent data states that about 25% of fatal Florida auto accidents involve drunk drivers. Distracted or impaired driving is the sort of reckless and negligent behavior that underlies many wrongful death cases.

In a recent auto accident wrongful death case, Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath won their client a $5.3 million settlement.

Medical Malpractice

This type of wrongful death case is created when someone dies because of a medical provider’s negligence. This negligence often appears as a medication error, surgical accident, or mistaken diagnosis that leads to someone’s death.

Medication errors can lead to fatal drug interactions. Surgical accidents can cause immediate or prolonged pain and death. A mistaken diagnosis can cause a fatal delay in life-saving treatment.

Though the avenues differ, the results are the same: a healthcare professional’s lapse in judgment or duty of care caused a preventable death.

Product Liability

Product liability refers to a manufacturer’s, wholesaler’s or retailer’s responsibility for any injuries or deaths caused by their products. While dealing with a defective product sometimes is as simple as waiting in line to make a return, some defects are serious and can cause fatal injuries.

In 2019, a Florida man using a semi-autonomous electric vehicle fatally crashed into semi truck. The family later filed a product liability wrongful death lawsuit against Tesla, alleging that the self-driving feature was defective. In 2016, a Tesla driver died in a similar crash.

In one Palm Beach product liability wrongful death case, Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath won their client an $11 million settlement.

Workplace Accident

Employers are subject to premises liability, which requires them to take reasonable responsibility for ensuring worker and visitor safety. That means employers must take care to warn people of broken walkways, wet floors, or other potential hazards.

But workplaces are filled with dangers — and we don’t mean accidentally replying all to an office email or missing an important meeting with higher-ups. For example, a major risk for warehouse workers takes the form of their main mode of cargo transport: lift trucks.

Other work hazards may appear as unsafe conditions, lax adherence to safety regulations, or lack of proper equipment.

What if I’ve lost someone in a similar manner?

If you’ve lost someone you love to one of the above types of wrongful death cases, get in touch with a West Palm Beach wrongful death attorney right away.

Though it may seem like an insurmountable task when in the midst of grieving, you must file your wrongful death lawsuit within two years of your loved one’s death. There are few exceptions, such as if a federal or state entity is involved in your loved one’s death. An experienced Florida wrongful death attorney will know your options and how best to proceed.

Contact Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath today for a free wrongful death case evaluation.

Proving Worth: How to Claim the Wrongful Death of the Elderly

wrongful death of an elderLosing an elderly loved one is always a difficult experience. However, when the death was caused by negligence or wrongdoing by a nursing home or caretaking facility, it makes the death that much more painful. The wrongful death of an elder is a terrible tragedy that could have been prevented. 

Seniors and their families should expect high-quality care. This is unfortunately not always the case when it comes to nursing home facilities. In fact, these facilities could be responsible for the wrongful death of an elder. When this happens, the senior’s loved ones can file a wrongful death case on behalf of the decedent. 

 

Causes of Wrongful Deaths of Elders

When we entrust a nursing home with our aging loved ones, we expect that the staff will act with professionalism, respect, and kindness. While there are great staff members that do maintain these standards, there are others who do not. Some even commit various forms of elder abuse.

Carelessness, understaffing, and an ill-suited temperament can all contribute to the wrongful death of an elder. Common causes of death include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Neglect
  • Medication errors
  • Failure to meet the resident’s healthcare needs
  • Misdiagnosis 

When the wrongful death of an elder occurs, families may be able to seek compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Not only could they recover financial compensation, but they can hold the responsible party accountable for their role in the wrongful death. 

Wrongful deaths of elders occur outside of nursing home facilities as well. Auto accidents, workplace hazards, product defects, criminal actions, and slip and fall accidents are also common causes of otherwise preventable deaths. 

Wrongful death lawsuits can bring awareness to the neglect and abuse that vulnerable, elderly people are at risk for and prevent others from experiencing the same heartbreak.

 

On what grounds can a wrongful death lawsuit be filed? 

According to Florida Statute 768.19, “When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person,” the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit.  

According to this statute, the following factors must be true: 

  • Duty: the liable party owed a responsibility of care to the decedent
  • Breach of duty: there was a failure to uphold the duty of care 
  • Causation: the event would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued
  • Damages: the person that would have been liable in damages if death had not ensued shall be liable for damages

Liable parties will do everything they can to minimize their role in the death of an elder. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can gather the evidence needed to support your claim. 

 

Who can sue for the wrongful death of an elder?

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit depends on the situation and the state. Immediate family members (spouses and children) can file a wrongful death lawsuit in every state. 

According to Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, a representative of the deceased elder must file the wrongful death lawsuit. Typically, spouses, children, and dependent blood relatives can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of an elder. 

Unfortunately, when it comes to medical malpractice cases, adult children (age 25 and above) of unmarried adults cannot recover damages in medical malpractice cases in Florida. 

 

Contact an Experienced Florida Wrongful Death Lawyer Today

Filing a lawsuit for the wrongful death of an elder can be a complicated and exhausting experience. Working with a Florida wrongful death lawyer can simplify the legal process and give you the best chance of recovering compensation for the wrongful death of your loved one. 

Contact our team today by calling (561) 655-1990. You can schedule a risk-free case evaluation and speak to one of our wrongful death lawyers. We can answer any questions you might have, learn more about your situation, and advise you of your legal options and rights. We look forward to assisting you. 

 

Four Key Elements To Prove in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

wrongful death lawsuitHas someone in your family died as a result of someone else’s negligence or reckless actions? If so, a wrongful death lawsuit may be the necessary next step. However, there are specific challenges to proving wrongful death in court. 

Fortunately, a legal professional can help you collect evidence, build your case, and argue it in front of a judge or jury. But what exactly will you need to prove to win your family’s wrongful death suit? 

Wrongful death and personal injury liability cases require that you prove the same four elements. Here are the four key elements you should be prepared to prove if you wish to recover damages for a wrongful death:

1. The plaintiff’s death was due to the defendant’s negligence.

Simply having someone die wholly or partially due to someone else’s actions does not mean that the situation is a wrongful death. 

For example, if a surgeon warns a patient about their risk of death and receives consent to perform the medical procedure, the death of the patient might not meet the criteria for a wrongful death. The patient’s death might be the result of medical complications, existing health conditions, or other factors that a surgeon has no control over. These circumstances do not rise to the level of wrongful death (or in this case, medical malpractice wrongful death).

Instead, the victim’s family would need to prove that specific reckless actions or negligent actions or inactions caused the death. In our example of a surgeon, this could include showing that the medical professional failed to adequately perform the surgery. Generally, if you could show that reckless behavior caused the surgery to fail, or that negligence led to a surgeon failing to take corrective actions when an error occurred, then you can show fault. 

Likewise, a victim’s death must be the direct result of situations that someone else could influence but failed to by acting reckless or negligent.

One example of a time when someone would be found liable for death is after a car accident. A typical car accident that’s half one driver’s fault and half the others would not normally reach the level of wrongful death. However, if one driver was under the influence of alcohol or impairing substances, then their choice to drive is reckless behavior. If you could prove that the driver’s actions led to your loved one’s death, then they will be found liable in a wrongful death suit.

2. Duty was owed to the victim, but there was a breach of duty.

Another factor you should prove in court is that there was a breach of duty by the defendant. For instance, a driver has a duty to other drivers, pedestrians, and the public to follow traffic laws. Failure to do so by driving under the influence is a breach of their duty to be a responsible driver. 

In any wrongful death lawsuit, you can identify a breach of duty. This might be a doctor’s duty to care for a patient, a manufacturer’s duty to supply safe products, or a motorist’s duty to obey traffic laws.

3. How the defendant’s actions resulted in death.

There must be a causal link between the actions the defendant takes and the victim’s death. If for instance, a driver gets into an accident with a drunk driver and a month later, the victim in the drunk driving case suffers from a stroke, there’s not a causal link. 

In other words, the car accident was not the cause of death, and therefore the drunk driver would not be liable. However, if the stroke was caused by injuries sustained in the drunk driving accident, then the drunk driver could be found liable.

4. The victim has quantifiable damages.

Several damages often come with wrongful deaths. These can involve hospitalization costs, burial costs, medical expenses, loss of life, loss of income, and several others. 

Your attorney can help all affected parties determine the types and amounts for damages due to the wrongful death case.

Do you need professional advice to help decide whether to file a wrongful death lawsuit?

Wrongful death suits require coordination from all relatives in a household. If you believe that a family member’s death was due to someone else’s negligent or reckless actions, it’s important to speak with an attorney right away. 

The law office of Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath will be glad to discuss your case and inform you of your rights. During a free, no-obligation consultation, we will let you know whether you have a case based on the circumstances. From there, we will discuss the next steps for recovering damages for your loved one’s wrongful death. Call us at (561) 655-1990 or use the live chat feature on our website to speak with a representative today.

 

Action Steps to take After a Wrongful Death of a Loved One

After a tragic accident, loved ones left behind can experience varying levels of pain and suffering. The grieving process can be even more intense for survivors of the deceased when they realize that the accident happened due to the recklessness of another.  Fatalities that occur as a direct result of the careless behavior of a person or irresponsible practices of a company are referred to as “wrongful death” incidents. Under these negligent conditions, compensatory damages for survivors is contingent on state laws.   Read more