What is Wrongful Death Litigation in Florida?
Wrongful death due to the recklessness or negligence of another is a tragedy. Losing a family member who sustains severe injuries results in mental anguish for surviving family. When a person is in good health, only to lose their life at the hand of another, resulting financial loss and grief can overcome the family.
What questions does this article answer pertaining to wrongful death?
- When does wrongful death occur?
- How does wrongful death affect surviving family?
- What’s necessary for a FL wrongful death claim to proceed?
- What is the “standard of proof” in Florida wrongful death cases?
- How do injuries affect the recovery pecuniary damages?
- How does financial recovery provide a “successful” outcome in wrongful death cases?
When does wrongful death occur?
The circumstances surrounding what makes up a wrongful death lawsuit make up the rest of a successful verdict. Below, we provide links to the Shaked Law Resource’s various writeups regarding them:
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse and/or neglect
- Occupational exposure and workplace accidents
- Negligent Security accidents resulting in wrongful death
- Social host liability and accidents resulting in wrongful death under these circumstances
How does wrongful death affect surviving family?
There is a large financial burden after a wrongful death. While nothing can ever replace someone who dies, life must go on. This means bills are still due. Because of this, the financial burden placed upon family after a wrongful death causes great anguish. Even the most financially stable family find themselves in debt. There’s a risk of losing a home and stability, especially if the head of household passes away.
During trial, financial compensation awarded to the victim’s family can help to reduce stress, medical bills, and funeral expenses incurred due to someone else’s negligence that ultimately resulted in loss of life. An experienced lawyer can obtain financial compensation on behalf of a surviving family after losing a loved one to a wrongful death accident, medical malpractice, or negligent security.
What’s necessary for a FL wrongful death claim to proceed?
Next, let’s list the aspects necessary to make up a successful wrongful death lawsuit that results in a verdict that awards maximum compensation for the victim’s surviving family:
- The death of a human being.
- Death must be due to the negligence of another. There must be intent (to cause harm, to maim or kill) such as through medical malpractice or negligent security.
- Surviving family who suffer financial injury due to the death
- Appointing of a personal representative.
- The “standard of proof” and a “preponderance of evidence”.
What is the “standard of proof” in Florida wrongful death cases?
The legal principle of preponderance of evidence is not beyond a reasonable doubt. Within Florida Personal Injury (civil cases), “standard of proof” is what the law calls a “preponderance of evidence“.
In the context of a wrongful death lawsuit, the definition is the following: “[…]the greater weight of the evidence required in a civil (non-criminal) lawsuit for the trier of fact (jury or judge without a jury) to decide in favor of one side or the other.” (Preponderance of evidence.)
In the context of a civil lawsuit, specifically Personal Injury, the court would use “preponderance of evidence” to determine the standard of proof. Regarding civil cases, the court refrains from “beyond a reasonable doubt”, as it is found in criminal court cases. However, standard of proof is just one area of successfully litigating a wrongful death claim. There are many details that factor into seeking civil justice in these complex cases. In cases of wrongful death, an attorney represents the decedent, but their surviving family members appear on their behalf.
How do injuries affect the recovery pecuniary damages?
It’s important to look at the meaning of “pecuniary” under Florida law. “Pecuniary injuries” include: loss of support, termination of inheritances, medical and funeral expenses, and future expenses for the family. Thus, we can determine that “pecuniary damages” is compensation for those who sustain any number of “pecuniary injuries”.
Compensation for financial injury due to a wrongful death must be fair. Sometimes a case must go to trial if a settlement offer is not sufficient for the family’s loss. Going to trial is sometimes necessary to better compensate the family with the maximum amount of damages they rightfully deserve. Age, health of the victim prior to death, earning capacity, life expectancy and intelligence factor into potential compensation. Thus, if a wrongful death claim goes to trial, the judge takes every aspect of the “book of the victim’s life” into consideration.
How are circumstances appropriately determined?
The main thing the court will look at when determining damages are the circumstances surrounding the victim at the time of death.
- Loss of income. If the victim wasn’t working at the time of death, a jury considers the deceased’s last known earnings. They will award damages in part on this information. They also consider the potential for future earnings, now lost. The reason for a victim being in between jobs at the time of their death will factor into this amount.
- Loss of a parent. parental guidance is considered when determining damages to be awarded
- If the decedent has dependents at the time of death, those children always have consideration, as they’re losing Mom or Dad (the adult wage earner in the home.)
How does financial recovery provide a “successful” outcome in wrongful death cases?
Wrongful death implies a family member passes away under tragic circumstances rather than after a long, happy life. In wrongful death cases, success means the family receives the justice they deserve for the loss of life. However, while no dollar amount heals permanent loss, financial recovery for the family is necessary to provide healing on the emotional side.
Surviving family members require a lawyer with experience
When a family member passes away suddenly, their surviving family have the right to bring litigation against those responsible. While difficult and overwhelming for the family, a lawyer with Board Certification can help mitigate the anguish a family is facing by recovering maximum compensation on their behalf.
Learn more: The Florida Statute of Limitations
Remember: Act quickly! The Statute of Limitations in the state of Florida is (2) two years from the time of death. If a family exceeds the Statute of Limitations, the case may not proceed no matter how valid the claim.