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The unexpected loss of a loved one is one of the most hardest experiences to recover from. Although a lawsuit may be the last thing on your mind at the moment, our wrongful death attorneys can help get justice for you and your family. If you lost a loved one unexpectedly and believe someone else’s carelessness or recklessness was to blame, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
To help determine whether taking legal action is the right step for you, the attorneys in our Lakeland office will first investigate the cause of your loved one’s death. If we find that another’s negligence led to the death of your mother, father, child or other relative, we may be able to sue the person or entity responsible to hold them accountable for their actions. If the lawsuit is successful, you may be able to receive compensation for funeral expenses, lost earnings and other losses stemming from your loved one’s death.
Florida law only allows surviving family members a certain amount of time to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Therefore, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. At Morgan & Morgan, our attorneys have the knowledge and experience required to recover compensation for families who suffered the unexpected death of a loved one, and are not afraid to go to trial to get their clients results. If you are interested in learning more about filing a lawsuit, fill out our free, no-risk case evaluation form today.
What Is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death occurs when another’s negligence (failure to behave how a reasonably prudent person would), misconduct or deliberate behavior contributes to or causes a fatality, according to the Florida Wrongful Death Act.
A wrongful death lawsuit allows surviving family members an opportunity to seek compensation for their losses from the person or entity responsible for their loved one’s death. Although no amount of money can truly compensate a family for the loss of a loved one, it can provide economic stability during a time in which surviving relatives are responsible for significant expenses, including medical bills and funeral arrangements.
Example of a Wrongful Death
A woman undergoes surgery to remove an infected appendix. Following the procedure, an anesthesiologist administers morphine without reviewing the patient’s medical chart, which included a note that she was allergic to morphine. The patient suffers a fatal heart attack from the medicine.
In this case, the anesthesiologist had a duty to check the patient’s medical chart for any allergies before administering the painkiller. Because this duty may have been breached, the woman’s surviving spouse, child or any other dependent family member may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the doctor. This specific cause of wrongful death is known as medical malpractice, but defective products, criminal acts, automobile, and workplace accidents are also considered common causes of wrongful death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Surviving family members who depended on the deceased family member for economic and emotional support may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This includes spouses, children, parents and other dependents such as adoptive siblings. The surviving family member’s level of dependence on the deceased relative will determine the amount of compensation he or she can receive.
What Compensation Is Available?
Individual compensation will vary for surviving family members. For example:
- A spouse may seek compensation for loss of companionship and protection, as well as mental pain and suffering
- Minor children (under 25 years of age) may seek compensation for lost parental companionship, instruction and guidance, as well as pain and suffering
- Each parent of a deceased minor child may seek compensation for pain and suffering
- Each parent of a deceased adult child may seek compensation for pain and suffering if they were not married or didn’t have children
- Relatives who paid for medical bills and funeral services may seek reimbursement for these expenses
The court will take the following into consideration when determining damages:
- The relationship between the survivor and decedent
- The amount of the deceased relative’s income
- The value of the deceased’s services
- The life expectancy of all parties
All dependent family members may be eligible to recover compensation for past and future lost support and services from the date of the deceased relative’s injury or death, with interest. This means that they can seek compensation for any “contributions in kind as well as money” that the deceased would have provided and any “tasks, usually of a household nature, regularly performed by the deceased that will be a necessary expense to the survivors,” according to the Florida Wrongful Death Act. Because there is no formula available to determine these damages, the jury and judge will work to evaluate these costs in court.
Surviving family members may even be awarded punitive damages if a judge determines that the defendant acted in reckless disregard of the deceased relative’s life. These damages are designed to punish the responsible party and discourage similar conduct, and to provide additional compensation for the family.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?
The attorneys in our Lakeland office only collect a fee only if they are able to favorably resolve your case. This fee will be paid out of your settlement or jury verdict.
If you’ve lost a loved one and suspect that it may have been the result of another’s carelessness, the attorneys at Morgan & Morgan may be able to help. Get in touch with one of our attorneys today by filling out our no-cost, no-obligation case review form.