The loss of a loved one is always a traumatic experience. This is especially true if the death was the result of another person’s negligence. If the deceased was a primary source of income, then surviving family members may struggle to pay bills. However, the person who caused the death may be liable for the loss of future income, medical expenses, funeral costs and other damages.
Filing a successful lawsuit is a legally complex process. If the incident happened in Florida, then an Orlando wrongful death attorney from the Law Offices of Needle & Ellenberg, PAmay be able to help.
A personal-injury lawyer from our firm can evaluate your case to determine if you have valid grounds for a lawsuit. We can gather evidence, structure your claim and aggressively fight for the maximum compensation. Call 305-290-1736 today to schedule a consultation.
Until then, read on to learn three steps to take when filing a wrongful death claim in Florida:
1. Find an Appropriate Personal Representative
The only person who can file a wrongful death lawsuit is the personal representative of the deceased’s estate, as the Florida Statute explains. He or she can file on behalf of the deceased, or on behalf of the surviving family members. The representative is also the only person who can gather certain documents or force their release with a court-ordered subpoena.
People typically choose their own personal representatives in their trusts, wills or estate plans. However, if the deceased did not appoint a representative, then the court may appoint someone who is eligible for the responsibility. This is usually a family member.
2. Gather Vital Records
One of the first responsibilities of a personal representative is to collect the necessary documents and records for the lawsuit. Because of safety and privacy laws, he or she is the only person who can collect certain records. These records are necessary for identifying liability and evaluating your claim:
The death certificate proves that your loved one died. All immediate family members have access to this record. The death certificate will detail the date and time of the death and may contain information about the cause of death.
OMI Findings and Report
The cause of death is not always accurate on the death certificate. You will receive a much more extensive report from the Office of the Medical Investigator. These findings will either support the death certificate or highlight a discrepancy, but the OMI’s report is usually more detailed.
If there are discrepancies or the findings cause concern, then you should scrutinize both the death certificate and the OMI’s report thoroughly. Your wrongful death attorney may request an expert review.
There are various incident reports to collect depending on the type of accident that killed your loved one and where it occurred. The law requires an incident report for every accident, whether it is a car crash, slip and fall or surgical error. The police will formally investigate the death and write an incident report. Get copies of this report and related documentation.
3. Avoid Talking to Insurance Companies without an Attorney
Do not assume that the insurance company will offer a fair payout. Insurance providers are businesses that must ultimately make a profit. For this reason, they may find ways to dispute your claim or reduce the settlement. This is why you should let your wrongful death lawyer handle correspondence with insurance adjusters.
Your family’s financial future may depend on the success of your claim. An Orlando wrongful death attorney can evaluate your case and help you avoid mistakes that could compromise your lawsuit. If the incident happened in Florida, then call the Law Offices of Needle & Ellenberg, PA at 305-290-1736 to schedule a free evaluation.