If you have lost a loved one because of the negligence, recklessness, or malpractice of another, a Jacksonville wrongful death attorney may be able to help you recover damages against the person or entity responsible. Frequently, in wrongful death cases, the wrongdoer or its insurance company may attempt to settle a case for less than fair value.
If you recently lost a loved one to an accident that you suspect was preventable, please fill out our free, no-obligation case review form to learn about your legal rights. Florida law establishes a time limit in which a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed, so it is important that you contact us to learn more about how a wrongful death lawsuit can help you.
How an Attorney Can Help You in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Wrongful death lawsuits can be complex and often involve the use of expert witnesses to help litigate a successful case. The attorney needs to be able to prove that the decedent’s death was caused by negligence, recklessness, or malpractice. To prove that the decedent’s death was caused by this type of wrongful behavior, the attorney may need to analyze medical records, accident reports, and Jacksonville police records to establish liability.
The attorney may also need to work with medical experts to determine the cause of death and prove that the death would not have occurred if not for the wrongful actions of another. In addition, a wrongful death attorney may work with economic and financial experts to assess the value of the loss of income and support caused by the decedent’s death.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death in Jacksonville is covered by the Florida Wrongful Death Act, which dictates that only certain family members are eligible for compensation in the event of a wrongful death. Under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, “survivors” refers to the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and any blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters who are dependent on the decedent for support or services. The definition of “survivors” includes children born out of wedlock of a mother, but not children born out of wedlock of the father, unless the father has been responsible for supporting the children.
Generally, a wrongful death claim must be initiated by a personal representative of the deceased. In most cases, the decedent’s will designates the personal representative. The court will appoint the surviving spouse as the personal representative if the decedent did not have a will. If the decedent did not have a surviving spouse, the personal representative is chosen by a majority vote of the decedent’s heirs.
Damages Available in a Wrongful Death Case
Through a wrongful death lawsuit, an attorney will seek to recover several different types of damages, including the following:
Loss of Income, Support, and Services: Each survivor may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to his or her death, as well as the value of future loss of support and services. In evaluating loss of support and services, the decedent’s relationship to the particular survivor, the amount of the decedent’s net income that would be available to the particular survivor, and the replacement value of the decedent’s services may be considered.
For purposes of a wrongful death lawsuit, the term “services” refers to tasks, usually of a household nature, regularly performed by the decedent that will be a necessary expense for the surviving relatives.
Loss of Parental Companionship, Instruction, and Guidance: Minor children of the decedent, and adult children of the decedent if there is not a surviving spouse, may recover financial damages for loss of parental companionship, instruction, and guidance.
Mental Pain and Emotional Suffering: Family members may recover compensation for the mental pain and suffering they incurred as a result of the wrongful death of the decedent.
Medical and Funeral Expenses: Medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent’s injury and death may be recovered by a survivor who has paid them.
Punitive Damages: The lawyer may also seek punitive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Punitive damages are available in cases where the wrongdoer acted particularly reckless or intended to cause severe harm. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the wrongdoer and discourage others from engaging in similar behavior.
Cases Our Wrongful Death Attorneys Handle
Our Jacksonville attorneys have experience handling wrongful death claims involving the following types of accidents:
- Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Construction accidents, including cases involving innocent bystanders
- Work-related accidents
If your spouse or family member had an untimely death because of the negligence, recklessness, or malpractice of another, a Jacksonville wrongful death attorney might be able to help you recover financial compensation for your losses. To learn about your legal avenues, please fill out the free, confidential case review form on this page.