Losing a loved one is never easy, and the burden can be more difficult to bear when a death is caused by another party’s negligence, recklessness, or malice. Under Florida law, the estate of the deceased person may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to obtain compensation for the death and related losses. Given the complex issues and highly charged emotions associated with such cases, it is important to work with the right attorney.
Staples Ellis handles wrongful death lawsuits in the Pensacola area and throughout North Florida. With over 70 years of combined legal experience, we have a proven history of pursuing successful claims. Although no amount of money can ever replace a life, pursuing a civil lawsuit may help you find justice and peace of mind.
What is considered wrongful death in Florida?
A wrongful death lawsuit, whether in Florida or across the country, is a type of claim filed in a Florida tort court on behalf of a person killed as a result of the negligence or otherwise improper conduct of another. Wrongful death lawsuits are most often filed by Florida personal injury lawyers who specialize in litigating such cases. A wrongful death lawsuit is designed to hold liable parties accountable for their actions and financially compensate the executor of the estate (typically family) for the loss of a loved one. Finally, the lawsuit must be filed in Florida within two years of the deceased person’s death.
Who can bring forth a Florida lawsuit?
The only party who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit In Florida is the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. If the decedent did not have a will, the court-appointed estate administrator can do so. In both cases, the lawsuit is filed on behalf of the beneficiaries of the estate which includes:
- The deceased person’s spouse, children, and parents
- Any blood relative or adoptive sibling who is “partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services”
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
The most common causes of wrongful death in Florida include:
- Automobile Accidents – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that as many as 35,000 individuals die in automobile accidents each year caused by driver errors such as distracted driving, speeding, and driving under the influence. The surest way to hold negligent drivers accountable is through a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Medical Malpractice – A claim may arise when a patient’s death is attributed to a medical professional’s failure to provide the appropriate standard of care. In particular, grounds for a lawsuit include misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, surgical mistakes, prescription errors, anesthesia errors, and defective medical equipment and devices.
- Product Liability – Manufacturers have a duty to ensure that the products they provide consumers are safe. When a defective product fatally injures a consumer, the responsible parties can be held accountable for a wrongful death claim.
- Violent Crimes – Although a violent crime that causes death may lead to criminal homicide charges, a wrongful death lawsuit can also be filed, regardless of whether the accused is convicted. This is because the burden of proof is lower in a civil lawsuit than in a criminal case. In a criminal case, the defendant must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt while a civil lawsuit only requires showing a preponderance of evidence to determine liability.
- Workplace Accidents – Construction sites, manufacturing plants, and other workplaces expose workers to a wide range of hazards such as falls, burns, explosions, harmful substances, and other dangers. When a workplace fatality is the result of another party’s negligence, there may be grounds for a wrongful death claim.
What damages can be recovered in a wrongful death claim in Florida?
Under Florida law, damages that are most often sought after in a wrongful death claim include compensation for:
- Funeral, burial, medical, and hospital expenses
- Pain & suffering experienced prior to death (degenerative diseases / debilitating injuries)
- Losses incurred by the deceased’s family: loss of wages; mental anguish; financial support; companionship; parental guidance (in cases where the deceased has children)
Serving the Pensacola Community with Honor and Compassion
While there may be no cure-all for grief, there is a legal remedy for wrongful death in Florida. At Staples Ellis, we are committed to helping surviving family members find justice and holding negligent parties accountable. We will take the time to learn about your loved one’s life, investigate the cause of death, and fight for your right to meaningful compensation. We will offer you compassion, knowledge, and the personal concern you deserve. Please reach out by contacting our office today.
The Wrongful Death Attorneys at Staples, Ellis & Associates serve clients throughout Florida, including the counties of Pensacola County, Escambia County, Santa Rosa County, Okaloosa County, and Walton County.