Defining Wrongful Death In Florida
No one wants to lose a loved one, and if it happens abruptly, it can feel like a punch in the gut. However, it can sometimes be hard to define whether a person’s passing is a tragic, unavoidable accident or whether someone might possibly be responsible. If you believe that another person might have played a role in your loved one’s passing, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against them if you can establish what specifically occurred.
Who Can File, When?
Florida’s wrongful death statute specifies that a death is wrongful if it happens because of someone’s “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty,” and the person would have had a cause of action for their injuries if they had survived. It can be difficult to determine what exactly constitutes a ‘wrongful act,’ but negligence, default and breach of contract or warranty are all fairly specifically defined, and if a person’s passing can be directly linked to any of these definable events, they generally have a good chance of establishing liability on the part of the defendant.
Know that while the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate must be the one to bring any wrongful death claims, they can only do so on behalf of certain family members – namely, the deceased person’s spouse, children, and parents, as well as any blood relative or adopted sibling who partially or totally depended on the deceased person for “support or services.” If the family does not want to file a claim, the personal representative can do so on behalf of the estate.
Criteria & Damages
In order to establish that a death was wrongful, you must establish certain criteria to the court’s satisfaction. You must establish that the defendant owed a duty to exercise reasonable care toward the plaintiff, and that they failed in using reasonable care, breaching the duty. You must also show that the defendant’s breach of duty was the direct cause of the injuries you suffered, and those injuries must be tangible – that is, you must suffer actual injury, whether emotional or physical.
If you are able to prevail in your suit, you may receive both tangible and intangible damages – that is, damages that can be quantified, like medical and funeral expenses, as well as damages that are harder to pin down, such as the value of “lost support and services.” The deceased person’s estate can also recover damages in some cases, most notably for lost future income. While every case is different, the court will consider those variables in trying to arrive at an appropriate and fair outcome.
Call A Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney
Losing someone is never easy, but it is even more difficult if you lose them due to someone else’s negligence. A compassionate Tampa wrongful death attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can offer dedicated and knowledgeable representation to help you through the legal process. Contact our offices today to schedule a free consultation.