If one of your family members died in an accident, your family might consider bringing forward a wrongful death claim. But how exactly do wrongful death lawsuits work and how long will it take to complete the legal process?
Here are the top questions and answers about wrongful deaths to help your family decide your next steps.
What is a wrongful death?
A wrongful death occurs when one person’s negligence or acts cause the death of another person. Therefore, it is like a personal injury, whereby the result of one person’s actions (or sometimes inactions) has a serious impact on another person’s life.
However, instead of the accident or intentional actions leading to suffering and injury, a wrongful death leads to a loss of life.
What is a wrongful death lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits allow the family of a deceased victim to recover compensation for their loss. In Florida, one representative acts on behalf of the victim’s estate and files a claim.
The claim lists every party that is eligible to file the wrongful death suit. This can include a spouse or significant other, children, parents, and other financial or emotional dependents.
Is there any information you need to prove a wrongful death?
Wrongful death cases are civil lawsuits where family members prove and recover specific damages that are a result of the victim’s death. Unlike a criminal suit, a civil wrongful death lawsuit does not seek to punish a wrongdoer. Therefore, no charges such as murder or homicide are brought against the defendant. Instead, the court case attempts to prove that the defendant’s actions or neglect led to a wrongful death.
There are four elements you need to prove, which are the same things you need to prove in product liability, personal injury, and even medical malpractice cases.
Carelessness, Recklessness, or Negligence
First, you need to show there was carelessness, recklessness, or negligence. It is these careless, reckless, or negligent actions (or inactions) on behalf of the defendant that are the direct cause of the victim’s death.
As an aside, a defendant does not need to be fully liable for the death of another person for there to be a wrongful death case. In fact, the defendant can be partially responsible and in certain states like Florida, the victim’s family will still recover a portion of damages.
Breach of Duty
Second, you need to show there was a breach of duty. For instance, if you are driving a vehicle down the road, then you have a duty to drive safely while following traffic laws. Failure to obey the law because of negligence or carelessness can qualify as a breach of duty toward other people driving near you.
Breach of duty can occur during a medical procedure, while driving, at the workplace, and more. For this reason, there are many causes of wrongful death that can occur to people of all ages.
Causation of Death
Third, you will prove that the defendant’s breach of duty was the cause of the victim’s death. If your loved one’s death was not the result of carelessness, recklessness, or negligence of the defendant, then you do not have legal standing for your case.
Finally, you will prove that the victim’s death led to quantifiable damages. This can include hospitalizations, medical bills, and burial costs. Alternatively, it can cover damages that family members are suffering. For example, your wrongful death lawsuit might recover money for loss of companionship, loss of inheritance, and similar damages.
How should you move forward with a wrongful death lawsuit?
Now that you understand how a wrongful death claim works, do you believe that your relative died due to someone else’s fault? If so, it is important to speak with wrongful death attorneys in Florida right away.
Contact the law firm of Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath to speak with one of our attorneys. We will listen to your case and provide guidance on how to move forward with your lawsuit. Give us a call at (561) 655-1990 to schedule your free consultation today or use the live chat feature on our website.
Act now – there are time constraints for successfully bringing forward wrongful death lawsuits. Do not wait until it’s too late to recover the damages that your family de
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