Not all injury victims can speak for or seek justice on their own behalf. In extreme cases, negligent acts cause the accidental deaths of innocent people. If your family has suffered such a tragic loss, reach out to a Mount Dora wrongful death lawyer today. Our injury attorneys understand that no amount of money can bring your loved one back, but compensation can help offset large expenses, lost income, and the unnecessary and extreme pain and suffering experienced by survivors.
What Exactly is Wrongful Death?
At its most basic, wrongful death is loss of life caused by the willful or negligent act of another person or persons. In other words, it is a personal injury claim where the injury was severe enough to prove fatal.
The proof in a wrongful death action is fact-specific and often depends on the nature of the case. Common scenarios where wrongful death occurs include:
- Motor vehicle accidents — Motorists have a duty to drive safely and observe the rules of the road. The duty extends to other motorists, passengers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and anyone else they might encounter while behind the wheel. Motorists also have a duty to render aid following a car accident.
- Boating accidents — Boat operators have the same duty as motorists to operate safely and within the law to avoid boat accidents. But because of the danger inherent in being out on open water, there is a stricter duty to render aid.
- Medical malpractice — Doctors and other healthcare providers have a duty of care toward their patients and must perform at an accepted professional level. Causation is often a tricky element in malpractice cases, because a direct link between the doctor’s mistake and the patient’s adverse outcome is not always easy to establish.
- Premises liability — Landlords and other property owners have a duty of reasonable care toward visitors to their property, but very little duty to make their property safe for trespassers. Property owners have a duty of care towards child trespassers, especially if the property contains an “attractive nuisance” that might draw the children onto the property and put them at risk of a premises liability accident.
- Workplace accidents — Workers’ compensation cases do not require proof of duty or breach. But if, for example, the injured worker is suing a third party following a construction accident, a showing of negligence is required.
- Criminal acts — When it’s alleged that a violent crime has caused a person’s death, the criminal trial generally precedes the civil trial. If the criminal trial results in a conviction, the elements for the civil trial are res judicata, “already adjudicated,” because they’ve been proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.” But if the criminal trial ends in acquittal, the civil plaintiff can still prevail by proving the elements by a preponderance of the evidence because that is a lower standard.
Proving the elements of a wrongful death case is rarely easy, even when the case seems straightforward. Defense lawyers for large insurance companies are determined to minimize any payout. To get justice for your loved one and to obtain the maximum compensation possible, you need an experienced wrongful death attorney from Mount Dora helping you each step of the way.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Most injury cases are brought by the injured party. In a wrongful death case, the suit must be brought by a surviving party on behalf of the deceased.
Wrongful Death Statute §768.21 clearly outlines who may bring this kind of claim in the wake of a fatal accident. These parties include:
- Parents of the deceased
- Surviving spouse of the deceased
- Children of the deceased
However, you may not bring a wrongful death action if:
- You are the parent or adult child of a decedent with a surviving spouse
- You are an adult who lost a parent through medical negligence
- You lost an adult child due to medical negligence
Time is against you. In the state of Florida, you have only two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim.
Further exclusions may preclude your wrongful death action. For example, some federal laws provide immunity from these lawsuits to defendants in cases involving railroad collisions.
Proving Legal Elements in a Wrongful Death Case
As with personal injury cases, wrongful death actions require plaintiffs to prove four elements:
- Duty — The alleged wrongdoer in a wrongful death claim must have had a duty to act with reasonable care to avoid harming the deceased.
- Breach — Once the plaintiff establishes that a duty existed, he must show the defendant breached that duty by acting carelessly, recklessly or deliberately to harm the deceased. In most cases, the breach of duty is referred to as negligence.
- Causation — There must be a direct connection between the breach of duty and harm to the deceased, as well as a direct connection between the harm to the deceased and his death.
- Damages — Finally, the plaintiff must prove that because of the death, the deceased and the plaintiff suffered losses. A personal representative of the deceased’s estate may recover for losses to the estate, such as loss of earnings over the course of a normal lifetime as well as medical and funeral expenses.
To prevail in court, a plaintiff must prove each of these elements by “a preponderance of the evidence,” a standard which means the plaintiff’s assertion is more likely true than not. Establishing all of these elements might prove challenging, but a skilled lawyer in Mount Dora could help after a wrongful death.
Compensation Associated with These Accidents
If you are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit, an experienced lawyer can help you recover compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Funeral costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of companionship
As your legal advocate for your wrongful death case, we are determined to help you obtain the maximum damage award possible under the circumstances of your case and bring some measure of justice for the loss you have suffered.
Reach Out to a Mount Dora Wrongful Death Attorney to Learn More
If your family has suffered a tragic death, you owe it to yourself to contact an experienced legal team. A Mount Dora wrongful death lawyer, thankfully, could offer the dedicated representation that your family deserves in these difficult times. We can arrange a free consultation and will work around your unique scheduling needs, so reach out today to get started. Se habla español.