Learn About Your Family’s Legal Rights From Our Experienced West Palm Beach Wrongful Death Attorneys
If you have lost a loved one unexpectedly, it will be important for you to learn about your family’s legal rights. Florida law entitles grieving families to financial compensation in many cases, but recovering this compensation requires a clear understanding of the steps you need to take and the mistakes you need to avoid. Our West Palm Beach wrongful death lawyers have decades of experience helping families file successful claims following fatal car accidents and medical mistakes; and, if your family is entitled to compensation, we can help make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
State law requires that a wrongful death lawsuit be filed by the personal representative for the deceased person’s estate. The personal representative is considered to be acting on behalf of the deceased person’s family members, such as a spouse, children or parents.
What are the Grounds for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
There are many different types of wrongful death claims. Some of the most common grounds for seeking financial compensation following the death of a loved one include:
- Driver Negligence – Speeding, texting behind the wheel, driving while intoxicated and other forms of driver negligence are common factors in fatal car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle and pedestrian accidents.
- Property Owner Negligence – Unmaintained premises, unprotected swimming pools, malfunctioning elevators and escalators, and various other property hazards are to blame for many unnecessary deaths in West Palm Beach and throughout Florida.
- Medical Malpractice – Medical malpractice is among the leading causes of death in the United States—following only heart disease and cancer. This includes triage errors, diagnostic errors, surgical errors and many other types of medical mistakes.
- Other Forms of Negligence – Negligent boat operation, failure to provide safe work environments, negligent hiring, inadequate safety protections on cruise ships and numerous other forms of negligence can justify claims for wrongful death.
- Product Defects – Defective medical devices, vehicle components, toys, tools, appliances and other products are to blame for far too many deaths in Florida and across the U.S. each year.
How Soon Should You Contact a West Palm Beach Wrongful Death Attorney?
If you have lost a loved one under any circumstances in which you suspect that someone else or a company may be liable, you should promptly contact a West Palm Beach wrongful death attorney. There is no reason to wait—and waiting can often make it more difficult to recover just compensation.
Technically, families have up to two years from the date of death to file wrongful death claims in most cases. This is based on Florida’s statute of limitations for wrongful death. However, there are several benefits to taking legal action promptly, and we strongly encourage you to schedule a free consultation with one of our West Palm Beach wrongful death lawyers today.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Case in Florida?
Generally, families in Florida have two years from the date of the death to contact a West Palm Beach wrongful death attorney and file a lawsuit. However, there are some limited exceptions, which your attorney can explain should they apply to you. Failing to file a claim within the two-year time period essentially voids your right to ever recover compensation for your loved one’s death. The sooner you reach out for legal counsel the better positioned you are to learn about your options and the statute of limitations deadline that applies.
Understanding the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and a Criminal Law Proceeding
Wrongful death is a legal claim, in which certain family members or the estate of a person who died in an accident can seek compensation from a person or entity responsible for the accident.
It is important to understand that a wrongful death suit is a civil matter. It is completely separate from any criminal prosecution that may happen to anyone responsible for a fatal accident. The standard of proof required in these cases is also different: A person suing for wrongful death must prove that the person or entity being sued is more likely than not responsible, while criminal prosecution requires proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
That means that you can sue a person for wrongful death, even if he or she was acquitted or found not guilty in a criminal case stemming from the accident.
State law limits these claims to the deceased person’s spouse, children, parents and certain other blood relatives, depending on the circumstances. They can seek compensation for a wide range of financial implications of the person’s death, including medical and burial costs, as well as money for the loss of financial and emotional support.
To get this compensation, you have to file a lawsuit in court. A West Palm Beach wrongful death attorney at Searcy Denney can help you identify those responsible for the accident and establish the strongest possible claim for money damages.
Types of Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
In a wrongful death lawsuit, survivors may have a claim for the following types of damages: loss of companionship (like parental), mental pain and suffering, medical and funeral expenses, and/or loss of earnings from the date of injury to the date of death.
When you speak with your attorney our team can help determine what damages you are entitled to. Florida statute outlines specific damages for the surviving family member, including surviving spouses, minor children of the decedent, adult children, parents of a deceased minor child, etc.
The money damages available in wrongful death cases in Florida includes compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Funeral expenses
- Lost wages, benefits and other earnings
- Loss of emotional support and family services
- Loss of companionship and protection
Getting this compensation typically requires filing a lawsuit. As mentioned above, the suit generally must be filed within two years of the person’s death.
What a West Palm Beach Wrongful Death Lawyer Does For You After You Call
Wrongful death is a form of negligence claim, in which the person suing alleges that the person or entity that caused the accident failed to live up to what courts and lawyers call a “duty of care.”
Car drivers, truckers, motorcycle riders, and others, for example, owe others on the road a duty to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner. They are expected to comply with traffic laws, maintain appropriate speeds and refrain from dangerous activity behind the wheel. That means steering clear of texting or drinking and driving and staying off of the road if a person is distracted or fatigued. A driver who does not meet this responsibility is likely to be found negligent and legally liable for any accidents that happen as a result.
Similarly, doctors and other medical professionals owe a duty of care to their patients to provide a certain level of treatment based on their expertise and training. When they make certain errors – whether it is in diagnosis, treatment, prescribing medication or performing surgery – doctors that do not live up to this standard are liable for medical malpractice.
How a West Palm Beach Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help You and Your Family
Lost a loved one in a car accident or other tragedy? The good news is that you are not alone. A West Palm Beach wrongful death attorney at Searcy Denney can help you take action to ensure that those responsible are made fully accountable for their actions.
Our lawyers are skilled negotiators with significant experience negotiating with insurance companies and others to efficiently resolve cases on optimal terms for our clients. We are also seasoned litigators who combine decades of experience, ready to fight for the people and families we represent in court when needed.
At Searcy Denney, we are proud to have a track record of successful results for our clients. That includes a $57 million settlement for a family whose daughter was killed and sons were injured in a car accident, as well as a $700,000 settlement over a malfunctioning traffic signal that led to a pedestrian’s death.
Our lawyers have dedicated their professional lives to one thing: Helping people injured in accidents get the compensation they deserve. We understand how judges and juries look at these cases and we know how to maximize money damages for the people and families that we represent.
A West Palm Beach wrongful death lawyer at our firm will investigate your case to identify how your loved one was killed and who is legally responsible. The attorney will also uncover all of the necessary evidence to prove liability.
Speak with a West Palm Beach Wrongful Death Lawyer
Our offices are conveniently located in West Palm Beach, Tallahassee, and Tampa. Call us at 800-780-8607 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a West Palm Beach wrongful death attorney today.