Wrongful Death Lawyer Orlando FL
Wrongful Death Claims in Florida
If you’ve lost someone in a tragic accident that was avoidable, contact a wrongful death lawyer Orlando FL offers without delay. The Law Offices of Needle & Ellenberg, P.A. have filed many wrongful death suits. Our attorneys are experienced with this type of claim, which can be very complex. It is important to act before the statute of limitations has expired for your claim. This is one of the many reasons why it’s important to contact a wrongful death lawyer in Orlando, FL as soon as possible.
Wrongful death is a tragedy for everyone involved, and a wrongful death lawyer in Orlando, Florida can help you move on from the pain of a sudden and avoidable loss. While no amount of compensation can make up for the pain of a lost loved one, it can help family and friends grieve properly and bring a sense of closure to the bereaved.
Many people assume wrongful death cases are only associated with certain fields, and while they are definitely more common in certain situations, the sad reality is that wrongful death can happen to anyone, anywhere. Wrongful death claims aren’t just confined to medical malpractice cases or fatal industrial accidents in dangerous work environments. While tragedy is sometimes unavoidable, fatal negligence is all around us.
Information About Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida
Understanding and knowing how the wrongful death claims work is one step in the process—the remaining family will file for charges. Florida Statutes section 768.19 states that “is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract” then the estate of the deceased may bring a civil lawsuit to the Florida courts, seeking a legal remedy for the losses that the death caused to the estate.
Florida requires a “personal representative” of the deceased person’s estate—this is usually someone named in the person’s will or estate plan; and if there is nobody named in a will or plan, the court will appoint a person. While this claim is filed by the personal representative, it is filed on behalf of every surviving family member of the decedent. The claim must actually list any surviving family member who will have an interest in the case.
Family members that may recover losses in a Florida wrongful death case are:
- Decedent’s spouse, children, parents
- Any blood relative, or adoptive sibling that is dependent on the decedent for support, services or otherwise considered a dependent
Should a child be born to unmarried parents, the child may recover losses if their mother dies. However, their father is a different story; the child can only recover losses if their father legally recognized them as their child, otherwise the father was not obligated to support this child, even in death.
Did you know that most states have laws regarding time limits on filing these kinds of lawsuits? This is a statute of limitations, and most states have a separate statute in place that focus on wrongful death lawsuits.
In Florida, you must file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date the decedent died on, as written according to Florida Statutes section 95.11(4)(d). The deadline can be postponed for a few specific circumstances—and a lawyer who is experienced in wrongful deaths in Florida can help you to determine whether those circumstances apply to your family’s case.
Florida Statutes section 768.21 gives the states rules for damages that are to be awarded in wrongful death lawsuits. Damages that the family can receive compensation for in these sorts of cases are:
- The value of support and services the deceased person had provided to the surviving family member
- Loss of companionship, guidance, and protection provided by the deceased person
- Mental and emotional pain and suffering due to the loss of a child, and
- Medical or funeral expenses any surviving family member has paid for the deceased person.
The deceased person’s estate may also receive compensations and recover damages, such as lost wages, benefits, “lost prospective net accumulations”, medical and funeral expenses that the estate paid out directly.
Reaching out to an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Orlando FL can help ensure that your case is handled to the best of your knowledge and is handled correctly so there will be little delay in receiving your compensation.
Reasons for Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death claims aren’t confined to emergency rooms. Consider a fatal car accident, in which someone who was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol crashed into another car and killed one (or more) of the occupants. Not only was the drunk driver breaking the law, but they’re now responsible for wrongful deaths, and as a result of their negligence, they can be held accountable for damages.
Another cause for wrongful death claims? Plane and aviation accidents. When it comes to aviation, there are many safeguards that are in place to ensure the health and safety of passengers, crews, and pilots. However, plane crashes still happen, and people still die. This can be attributed to a number of different factors, but it always boils down to sudden tragedy, wrongful death, and grieving family and friends. A wrongful death lawyer in Orlando, FL, can help secure the compensation that family and friends deserve from fatal aviation accidents.
Wrongful death in the hospital is more common than any of us would like to think. Of course, medical malpractice can cause wrongful death, but in some extreme cases, it can cause multiple deaths. Birth injuries can range from mild to fatal, and some birth injuries can result in the loss of a mother, her child – or both. This should never happen, and with proper medical attention, it wouldn’t.
Examples of Wrongful Death Cases
While it is very easy to understand what a wrongful death case is, you may be unable to tell whether your case is a wrongful death case or not. You rely on your wrongful death lawyer to tell you whether you have a wrongful death case and a solid one at that. However, if you are curious about previous wrongful death cases that were made national coverage to get an idea of what kind of cases are considered wrongful death cases follow the list below. This list is by no means fully exhaustive, it is just to give some examples.
- In 1994 and 1995 O.J. Simpson was on trial for double murder. The formal professional football player and actor was on trial for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. Simpson was found not guilty by the jury in the criminal trial. Even though O.J. Simpson was found not guilty in the criminal trial, both victims’ families filed a wrongful death claim against Simpson in the civil court. Because this was not a criminal trial he was allowed to be tried for it and at trial the jury found that Simpson was responsible for the deaths and awarded the family $33.5 million. This case is a landmark to demonstrate how the lower burden of proof in civil court may allow you to win a wrongful death case even if criminal court fails you.
- In 1998 Brent Hartman shot her husband and beloved comedienne Phil Hartman. After shooting her husband she shot herself. Britain was considered to be psychotic due to the antidepressant Zoloft at the time of the murder suicide. Her family filed a wrongful death claim against Zoloft manufacturer Pfizer pharmaceuticals, as they allege that the drug caused Brenda to go insane and that it’s a fax letter to commit the shootings. Other wrongful death cases have been filed regarding antidepressants such as Zoloft, Paxil and Prozac where suicides and homicides have been frequent. The Hartman case was confidentially settled and did not receive much coverage. Wrongful death cases are actually really common against large pharmaceutical companies because they are producing and marketing unsafe drugs or they are not fully disclosing all of the potentially dangerous side effects of a particular drug. In some cases the disclosures are not enough, though they show up in commercials and they’re too fast for you to hear her, they’re too small to read.
- In 2001 the entertainment industry was shocked when 22-year-old R&B singer and actress Aaliyah died in a plane crash along with eight other people. They had just finished a music video and her parents filed wrongful death claims against many parties involved, including the airway company and Virgin records for making unsafe transportation arrangements. The proof that they used in the lawsuit is that Virgin Records hired the airway company even though it had been cited four times within four years. The lawsuit also found that the pilot was both unqualified and inexperienced, as the crash occurred on the pilots’ stay with the company. The pilot was also not registered with or approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly the plane. The pilot was allegedly on cocaine and alcohol and had prior criminal charges related to drug use. The lawsuit also found that the aircraft was 700 pounds overloaded and had more than one passenger over the limit. Even the pilot commented that the plane was overloaded prior to takeoff.
- In 2006 the 21-year-old mother whose two-year-old son went missing was interviewed by CNN. The mother was not a suspect regarding the disappearance of her child, but a former prosecutor interrogated her live and insinuated that she knew where he was in that she may have killed him. Right before the show aired she killed herself. The family sued the prosecutor as they claim she had intentional infliction of emotional distress on the young mother. The money from this settlement was donated to the national Center for missing and exploited children.
Compensation for Wrongful Death
From car accidents to plane crashes and fatal birth injuries, all of these tragedies could have been avoided. While no amount of money can ever bring back a loved one, it can help with the financial burden that comes with a sudden loss. Funeral expenses, estate distribution, taxes, and even debts that were accrued through medical care can all be covered with the right amount of compensation, and a wrongful death lawyer can help you get the money you deserve.
In the event of a tragedy like a wrongful death of a loved one, you shouldn’t be slammed with expenses. A sudden loss that could have been avoided can leave you lost and unsure of what to do next. You might feel angry, betrayed, and a million other emotions – but you should never give up on justice. Reach out to a qualified wrongful death lawyer in Orlando, FL, from Needle & Ellenberg, P.A., and focus on grieving properly, instead of making ends meet.
Are You Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
Not everyone can file a wrongful death claim. An Orlando, FL wrongful death lawyer can review the circumstances of your case to better determine whether it has merit. A licensed attorney may help determine if you’re eligible based on your relationship to the deceased. The following relationships may allow for eligibility:
- Spouse/partner. If the deceased is survived by a spouse or a common law spouse, then they may have the right to file a wrongful death suit. Florida doesn’t recognize common law marriages but it may recognize common law marriages previously established in other states in a wrongful death claim.
- Children. If the deceased does not have a spouse, the children may have the right to file a wrongful death suit but must divide the award equally among themselves.
- Parent. In the event that the deceased does not have a surviving spouse or any children, the parent may file a wrongful death suit.
- Estate. If the deceased left no surviving immediate family members, probate law dictates that their Estate can file a wrongful death suit. The award may then be given to the person’s next of kin.
Potential Wrongful Death Claim Damages
A wrongful death lawyer Orlando, FL provides can review your case and offer an overview of what damages you may include in your claim. In many instances, the claim takes into account the losses of the surviving loved one related to the victim’s passing. Such losses may include any or all of the following:
- The total earnings the deceased would have earned in their lifetime
- The dollar value of the benefits (including health insurance) and work bonuses the deceased would have earned in their lifetime
- The cost of the medical care (including medications, surgery, etc.) undertaken in the attempt to save the deceased’s life
- The loss of the deceased’s contributions to the surviving family member’s life such as vehicle repairs, household duties, etc. as a dollar amount
How Does the Wrongful Death Claims Process Work?
The first part of the process typically involves identifying (or designating) a representative for the victim’s estate, then identifying and listing the victim’s survivors (typically family members who were dependent on the victim).
The representative next needs to establish or formally note the cause of death and who the at-fault party or parties may be. The representative then seeks a monetary settlement from those at fault. If no settlement is reached (as is typically the case), the personal representative can next pursue litigation.
Once the lawsuit has been set in motion, attorneys for both sides go through the discovery process, which involves gathering evidence, official statements from witnesses or others involved and anything else that may support their legal argument. As the case progresses, a trial date will eventually be set. Before that, however, the parties will meet to determine if they can reach a settlement. If they can, the case will usually end there. If they cannot, the case will proceed to trial.
What Happens if my Loved One was Partially at Fault for the Fatal Accident?
It is common for fault to be shared in personal injury and wrongful death cases (though usually not equally shared). Thankfully, victims and their families can still recover money. Florida recognizes a legal principle known as “comparative negligence.” This means that if both the defendant and the plaintiff are deemed liable for the accident, each side is assigned a percentage of responsibility.
If the plaintiffs win their case or settle, the amount of money they can collect will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the victim. Let’s say, for instance, that a family was seeking $100,000 in a wrongful death lawsuit. At trial, the jury determined that the victim was 15 percent at fault for the accident that led to his death. Because of this the plaintiffs could recover $85,000, which is the full amount reduced by the 15 percent that was attributed to the victim.
Can Exploring My Legal Options Wait?
Unfortunately, you do not have much time to grieve before taking legal action. In Florida, the statute of limitations in most wrongful death cases is two years from the date of death. You must at least file the lawsuit within that period of time.
Even if there wasn’t such a limited window, you would likely want to file soon for practical reasons. Over time, evidence gets lost and memories fade. The sooner you take action, the better your opportunities to build a strong case.
Special Considerations if Your Loved One Died While on the Job
Under Florida law, workers’ compensation is typically considered the “exclusive remedy” for injuries and deaths that occur on the job. This means that, save for very rare circumstances, injury victims and their families cannot sue employers for workplace injuries and deaths. Instead, they can only seek workers’ compensation (injury or death) benefits.
Depending on the circumstances of the fatal accident, it may be possible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against a third party in addition to seeking workers’ compensation death benefits. But you’ll need to discuss your options with an experienced attorney to determine whether this is possible in your particular case.
Legal Assistance Is Available
Contact the Law Offices of Needle & Ellenberg, P.A. today to speak with a qualified and licensed wrongful death lawyer Orlando, FL families trust.