What Should I Do After a Car Wreck Death in Jacksonville?

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What Should I Do After a Car Wreck Death in Jacksonville - jacksonville view with bridges and cars

What Should I Do After a Car Wreck Death in Jacksonville?

Losing a loved one is always heartbreaking. However, if a beloved family member is ripped out of their family’s midst due to the reckless or careless actions of another, family members are often left facing devastating emotional and financial consequences. 

Knowing what you should do after a death from a car wreck in Jacksonville can be crucial for recovering damages such as medical bills, awards for pain and suffering, and others. Let our dedicated wrongful death lawyers help ease your burden at this challenging time. We can be by your side and fight for the compensation you need to pick up your life after a tragedy. Contact us now by filling in our online form and learn about your legal rights for free. 

Fatal Car Accidents in Jacksonville

According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), there were 158 traffic fatalities in Jacksonville’s Duval County in 2019 alone, representing a more than ten percent increase from the previous year. Common causes of accidents in Duval County are distracted driving, alcohol intoxication, and excessive speeding. 

Careless and reckless drivers cause a significant number of deaths and countless injuries on Jacksonville’s roads each year. If a distracted, drunk, or otherwise negligent driver caused your loved one’s accident and death, you could have legal recourse and recover compensation. 

Causes of Car Wreck Deaths in Jacksonville 

Fatal car accidents can happen due to a variety of causes, including the victim’s inattention or oversight. However, if your loved one in Jacksonville died due to another’s negligent driving behavior, you could be entitled to damages with a wrongful death claim. Figures from the  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that over 90 percent of accidents occur due to critical driver error. An accident can be caused by various factors involving another party’s negligence or willful actions, including:

  • Alcohol or drug intoxication
  • Distracted driving
  • Fatigued driving
  • Driving over the posted speed limit
  • Driving too fast for weather or road conditions
  • Road rage and aggressive driving
  • Following too closely
  • Violating road laws 
  • Running red lights or stop signs

Accidents Due to Road or Vehicle Defects

While most accidents resulting in a wrongful death case happen due to drivers’ errors or negligence, not all do. If your relative died in an accident that occurred due to a badly designed or inadequately maintained road, you could have legal recourse against a local government body. 

Likewise, if the crash happened due to a vehicle defect or a faulty car part, you could potentially have a case against a car manufacturer or the company that serviced the vehicle. There could be various other defendants in a wrongful death case. 

Take Action After a Car Wreck Death

Nobody can prepare you for losing a family member suddenly and unexpectedly in a car crash. Moreover, when a loved one passes away, there are many things to deal with, such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Arranging a funeral 
  • Dealing with the car wreck
  • Managing auto insurance claims
  • Dealing with a life insurance claim
  • Handling estate matters

Having to deal with a tragic loss and various urgent formalities after a sudden death can be highly stressful. However, it is vital that at this time, your thoughts also turn to protecting your rights to legal recourse and compensation from the at-fault party. Consider the following steps:

  • Contacting a wrongful death lawyer to determine your legal options
  • Collecting evidence of the crash
  • Gathering proof of your damages such as medical bills

You may not wish to file a lawsuit immediately. However, getting legal advice and learning about your legal rights as soon as possible can be a good idea when your loved one dies in a car accident. 

Filing a Wrongful Death Case

When your family mourns a wrongful death in a car wreck in Jacksonville, you should seek legal advice immediately so you can weigh your options. The unexpected passing of a loved one can change your life, impact you severely emotionally, and cause considerable financial hardship. If someone else is responsible for the accident, the law is generally on your side. You could be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. 

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case in Florida?

It is essential to note that filing a wrongful death lawsuit is generally reserved to the representative of the deceased person’s estate. The closest family members are usually the beneficiaries of a claim, including:

  • The spouse or life partner of the deceased
  • The deceased’s children
  • The parents of a minor killed in a car accident
  • A representative of the deceased’s estate

In some circumstances, others could be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida. One of our seasoned wrongful death attorneys can advise you.

Time Limits for Wrongful Death Cases in Florida

Timely action can be crucial when filing a wrongful death lawsuit. According to Florida Statutes section 95.11, those wishing to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state generally have two years. The time starts ticking on the day your relative died. 

If two years have already passed since your loved one died, speak to one of our attorneys as soon as possible, as there can be rare exceptions to the statute. We can advise you on whether you could still recover your due. 

Proving Negligence in Car Wreck Death Lawsuits

Wrongful death generally describes the unexpected death of an individual due to the negligence of another. However, in a fatal auto crash, the deceased’s family members must prove that the at-fault driver or another responsible party recklessly or negligently caused the accident and death of their loved one. Specifically, the surviving family members must meet the same burden of proof that the deceased victim would have had to meet had they survived the crash. 

In legal terms, the family of a victim will have to prove the following elements of a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • The defendant had a duty of care towards the victim
  • The defendant breached their duty of care due to negligent or willful behavior
  • The accident was caused directly by the breach of duty
  • The survivors suffered emotional, physical, or financial damages as a result

In some accidents, the fault is clear. In others, the deceased may have been partially at fault, or there could be several defendants, complicating a case. One of our experienced wrongful death attorneys can establish negligence and gather the necessary evidence to prove your case. 

Common Fatal Car Accidents

Almost all of us have experienced a fender bender, such as a rear-end accident. While potentially all types of car accidents could result in death for car occupants, some accidents are more likely to be harmless while others almost always cause injuries or even fatalities. More serious car accidents generally involve: 

  • Head-on collisions
  • Rollover accidents
  • Accidents with large commercial trucks
  • T-bone accidents

Speed can be a major contributing factor in a fatal accident. What might be an otherwise harmless rear-end accident, for example, can have deadly consequences if it occurs at high speed on a highway.

Family Members Could Recover Compensation

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can help surviving family members recover damages that arise from their loved one’s passing. You could potentially collect: 

  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Healthcare expenses before your loved one’s death
  • Awards for pain and suffering 
  • Loss of your loved one’s income and future earning capacity 
  • Loss of companionship (spouse)
  • Loss of parental guidance (minor children)

There may be other compensation available for survivors, particularly if the decedent contributed much more than just their income to the household. For example, you could receive amounts for the loss of assistance with housework, child care, elder care, vehicle maintenance, and other benefits. You could also be entitled to the value of any other benefits lost with your loved one’s death, such as retirement contributions, health insurance, and others. 

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

Morgan & Morgan FAQs

  • What Is the Average Settlement for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

    There is no average settlement amount for a car wreck death lawsuit. Wrongful death cases can settle for varying amounts depending on the following factors and others:

    • Insurance coverage
    • The age of the deceased victim
    • The financial worth of the decedent

    Although each case is different, wrongful death payouts can be significant. 
    A wrongful death attorney can advise you on the worth of your case and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.

  • How Do I Know if I Have a Case?

    You most likely have a wrongful death case if your close relative died in an accident that was recklessly or carelessly caused by another person, business, or entity. However, you will have to prove the fault of the other party to have a chance of recovering damages. An attorney can examine the facts of your accident and determine whether you have a case.

  • Who Is Entitled to Damages in a Car Wreck Death Lawsuit?

    Generally, the following persons could be entitled to damages in a wrongful death lawsuit:

    The Surviving Spouse 

    The surviving spouse of a car wreck victim could collect compensation for loss of companionship, loss of income and benefits from the victim, emotional trauma and anguish, and other damages. 

    Minor Children 

    Minor children of the decedent could collect damages for loss of parental guidance and support and other lost benefits. 

    Parents of a Minor Child 

    When a child dies in a car accident, parents could sue for compensation for their emotional suffering and lost relationship. 

    Depending on the facts of the case, other individuals could also recover damages. Occasionally, courts award punitive damages to family members of a car wreck victim. If the defendant was particularly malicious or reckless in causing the car accident, the family could recover punitive damages in addition to any compensatory awards. 

  • Which Questions Should I Ask My Wrongful Death Attorney?

    When deciding on an attorney or law firm to handle your case, doing your research can be vital. Questions to ask a lawyer before hiring them can include:

    What Is Your Experience with Handling Car Wreck Death Lawsuits?

    Always make sure you work with an attorney who has a solid and successful track record of handling similar cases such as yours. They should also have won at trial. 

    Who Will Be Handling My Case?

    Some senior attorneys meet you at the first consultation, and you will never see them again. Instead, a junior attorney straight out of law school without trial experience may be handling your case. Make sure you know who will represent you. Moreover, knowing whom to contact for updates during litigation can be important. 

    Do You Charge an Upfront Fee?

    Wrongful death lawsuits can be astronomically expensive to litigate. Therefore, you will want to work with an attorney that works on a contingency basis, meaning they will not charge you a bill. A lawyer working on contingency will only receive a fee if and when they win. The attorney’s fee will be a percentage of your final settlement. When you work with Morgan & Morgan, you pay nothing until you recover a settlement.

  • Morgan & Morgan Can Fight for You

    Florida wrongful death law is complex. Those fighting for what they deserve on their own, without professional legal representation, could be at a distinct disadvantage. After a death in a car wreck in Jacksonville, you may not know what you should do. Our determined wrongful death attorneys can be a shoulder for you to lean on, walk you through your options, help you navigate the legal process, and fight for your best interests.

    We understand that life after the loss of a loved one may never be the same. Surviving family members often face overwhelming grief and suffering. Morgan & Morgan can be here for you and help you through this. Our compassionate lawyers have helped families of car wreck victims for over 30 years receive the payouts they need and deserve to rebuild their lives after a tragic loss. Contact us today for a free consultation to determine your legal options.

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