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Should My Family File A Wrongful Death Suit?


Wrongful death is a legal cause of action that can be brought when someone dies due to the negligence or reckless behavior of another person. Families who have lost a loved one in this way are often reeling and legal redress may not be the first thing on their mind. However, while money will not bring a loved one back, it can help the family stay on its feet while the members make such a major adjustment in their lives. An experienced and compassionate attorney can help smooth out the process even further.

Survival Action Or Wrongful Death?

Technically, there are two types of wrongful death action under Florida law. One is referred to simply as a wrongful death case, while the other is called a survival action. A survival action, however, is only appropriate when the deceased person had an unrelated legal claim they were bringing to court, or would have had a legal claim if they survived. (For example, if someone is in a car accident, but does not die immediately, instead incurring serious injuries and the corresponding medical bills before their passing, their estate would have a survival action claim to bring against the driver for the amount of the medical bills.)

A classic wrongful death lawsuit, comparatively, is brought by the surviving family of the deceased person (under Florida law, the surviving spouse, children, or parents, as well as any other family member who was partially or wholly dependent on the decedent). Unlike a survival action, which is restricted in terms of the damages it can recover, a wrongful death action may result in recovery for lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of future support, among other damages that are generally not recoverable by the estate.

Key Factors

Some potential wrongful death plaintiffs are not inclined to file suit against the allegedly negligent person who caused the death unless they can be convinced of potential recovery, but one of the most important things to keep in mind regarding personal injury cases is that they are generally not quantifiable. Once a wrongful death case has begun, there are simply too many potential variables that can affect a potential award from a judge or jury; arriving at a specific number (even as a guess) would be raising expectations unrealistically.

Another important factor to be aware of if you are debating whether or not to file is the statute of limitations. Every cause of action has a statute of limitations, which is a limit on the amount of time a person can take to file suit. Evidence and memories decay after months and years, and there is a limit on the time in which either can be trusted. For a wrongful death case, a plaintiff must file their suit within two years from the date of the decedent’s passing, which seems like a long time, but very often, it passes almost before they know it. If you do not file in time, your claim is forever barred.

Contact A Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney

When you lose a loved one suddenly, it can feel as though the proverbial rug has been yanked out from under you. A Tampa wrongful death attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can help to put it back, handling the heavy legal lifting while you and your family focus on healing and recovery. We offer compassionate and knowledgeable representation to those who need it most. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.

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