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port st lucie wrongful death lawyers

Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath is here to help. You’ll work with a Florida wrongful death lawyer who has a deep knowledge of this area of the law and who will fight for your rights at every turn.

Please get in touch with us as soon as you can to schedule a free evaluation of your case, and to learn more about how we may be able to help. You can use our online contact form, or you can give us a call at (561) 655-1990 to schedule your free consultation.

How Florida defines wrongful death

Florida law defines wrongful death as a death that stems from negligence, a wrongful act, or a breach of warranty or contract committed by another person or entity, and such an act would’ve allowed the victim to bring a claim for damages of their own had they survived. 

Through the deceased’s estate, the surviving family members may file a lawsuit to recover some of the financial losses and damages that are suffered as a result of their loved one’s death.

Important things to know about your Port St. Lucie wrongful death claim

As important as it is for family members to obtain compensation through a wrongful death claim, there are other reasons to take legal action as well. A wrongful death lawsuit can make those responsible for the death be held accountable for their negligence, and it might prevent others from engaging in similar activities which could potentially save lives. 

Who may file

Determining who can file a wrongful death claim will largely depend on whether or not the deceased had a will. 

If the deceased had a will

If this was the case, then the executor, or the personal representative of the estate of the deceased, can take action by filing a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family members left behind. 

If the deceased did not have a will

If there was no will, then the state will appoint a representative for the estate who will then file the lawsuit. 

In both situations, any damages received by the estate is for the benefit of the decedent’s survivors and dependents. When filing the claim, the representative will list every survivor who has an interest in the case and can legally claim a portion of the damages.

A Port St. Lucie wrongful death attorney can help you determine who’s responsible for initiating the action and ensuring that all persons who are eligible to receive the damages are listed in the claim. The order of family members who will have eligibility can vary depending on the specific situation.

In general, however, that right is extended first to the spouse, then the children, parents, then other relatives who depended on the deceased person.

2. Types of recoverable damages

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There are several kinds of financial losses that can stem from an accident that results in a wrongful death. The courts will take many factors into consideration when awarding damages. These include the relationship between the family member and the deceased, the level of dependency that the family member had on the deceased, and more. 

These are just a few examples of damages that may be recoverable through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Medical expenses

If the deceased received medical treatment after an accident and later passed away, those medical bills aren’t going to disappear just because they didn’t survive. If they received additional medical care as a result of medical malpractice, your attorney might help you recover compensation to cover the cost of the care when the malpractice occurred, and the necessary care following that malpractice.

These medical expenses, including the costs of lab work, imaging, scans, medications, and more are recoverable as economic damages.

Funeral and burial expenses

Funeral and burial expenses can routinely reach  thousands of dollars. It can be very daunting for the family of someone who dies suddenly and unexpectedly to be able to come up with the money required. A wrongful death lawsuit may help you recover for expenses such as the casket, printed materials, the burial plot, the hearse, and more as part of the economic damages.

Loss of the deceased person’s income

The income, including wages, bonuses, commissions, and benefits, that are lost due to the death of a family member is also recoverable by the estate. This includes those that were lost between the time of the accident or incident and the time of their death, and it includes those that they would’ve earned had they lived and continued to work and support the family.

These damages can be difficult to properly support and recover without the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer in Port St. Lucie because there are many factors to be considered including the person’s age, their role at their company, likelihood of promotion, inflation, and more.

The deceased person’s pain and suffering before they died

The deceased may have had to go through painful treatment, for example, for an illness that was improperly diagnosed. This is an example of “non-economic” damages which are subjective and don’t have medical bills to easily support the amount requested. It takes the skill of an experienced attorney in order to properly calculate them. 

Loss of companionship and services provided by the deceased

“Loss of companionship” is typically associated with the spouse of a wrongful death victim, but there may be a chance that other family members might also be eligible for this type of non-economic damages.

For example, a child may be able to recover these damages for the loss of consortium of a parent. However, the amount received might be less than if they were under the age of majority. Parents who lose a child may also be able to obtain loss of enjoyment of life, loss of services, and mental anguish.  

There are several factors in your case that will impact the types of damages and the damages you might be able to recover. Only a highly experienced Port St. Lucie wrongful death attorney at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath can help ensure that you receive the maximum amount of damages possible and that’s allowed under state law.

3. Who receives compensation

In most cases, the spouse and children will have first priority when it comes to receiving compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit, but then it extends to parents and other relatives who may have been wholly or partially dependent on the deceased. If the deceased didn’t have a spouse or children, you should speak to an attorney because they can help you determine who will qualify as a beneficiary. 

4. How long you have to file

In Florida, the statute of limitations for a  wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of the victim’s death in the vast majority of instances. Failure to file by that deadline will prevent the surviving family from obtaining any compensation to make up for that financial loss. 

However, as a result of the Jeffrey Klee Memorial Act of 2010 (Fla. Stat. §95.11(10)), one exception to the statute of limitations is if the deceased passed away due to an act such as murder, homicide, or manslaughter. In those situations, there’s no time limit because the criminal investigation can take much longer to complete, sometimes years when the perpetrator is unknown.

You may hurt your chances of obtaining fair and reasonable compensation if you don’t act as soon as possible following your loved one’s death. A detailed investigation into the accident that led to the death will need to be performed. If it takes too long for that investigation to start, critical evidence could be lost.

Steps to prove wrongful death

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In order for a wrongful death lawsuit to succeed, your Port St. Lucie wrongful death lawyer and their team must prove the following by a preponderance of the evidence (“more likely than not”) with supporting evidence.

1. Duty

The defendant in the case owed the victim a duty of care. If the death occurred in a car accident, for example, your attorney must show that the at-fault driver owed the victim the duty of care to drive in the safest manner possible, one that wouldn’t cause harm to other motorists.

2. Breach of duty

Your attorney will then have to show that the at-fault driver breached their duty of care. They might have driven while drunk, or they may have been distracted by using a cell phone while behind the wheel. 

3. Causation

Your attorney must prove that the defendant’s breach of duty was the direct cause of the accident that resulted in the victim’s death. This is where a thorough investigation by your attorney will be crucial because they can use the photos, videos, medical reports, and witness reports along with expert testimony to prove this element.  

4. Damages

Finally, your lawyer will need to prove that you suffered damages or losses as a result of your loved one’s death. These will typically include the damages discussed above including medical bills, funeral costs, lost present and future wages, pain and suffering, emotional and mental trauma, and more.

How a Port St. Lucie wrongful death lawyer can help

No amount of money could compensate you for the tragedy of losing a loved one, but the unfortunate truth is that you may be facing severe financial challenges due to the sudden loss of your loved one’s income. Our Florida wrongful death lawyers in Port St. Lucie can help you take the legal action needed in order to help you recover financially.

We can’t guarantee a specific damages award, but we can guarantee that if we take your case, we’ll work tirelessly to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. You can schedule a free consultation by giving one of our Port St. Lucie wrongful death lawyers a call at (561) 655-1990 or by contacting us online.

Discover your legal options today.

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