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