Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things that most of us will face. Thinking about a lawsuit may be the last thing on your mind, but failing to assert your legal rights can be costly.
Compassionate Injury Attorneys Assisting Families in Stuart and Beyond
Under Florida law, a family who has lost a loved one due to the negligent or reckless conduct of a person, business, or governmental entity may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the party or parties responsible. Fatal accidents can occur in numerous settings, including car or truck crashes, the use of a defective or dangerous product, medical malpractice, or on-the-job accidents in which a third party’s fault contributed to the worker’s death. The experienced injury lawyers at Donaldson & Weston can advise families in Stuart and the surrounding communities on how to pursue the damages that they deserve for the loss of a loved one.
Bringing a Wrongful Death Claim under Florida Law
Wrongful death lawsuits must be thoroughly investigated as soon as possible after an accident in order to limit the disappearance or spoliation of evidence. There are other important reasons to seek counsel soon after a fatal accident. The statute of limitations, the outer time limit for filing a lawsuit, is shorter in a wrongful death case than in a case involving a non-fatal injury, and it is usually essential to comply with this rule in order to preserve the right to compensation.
The core of a wrongful death case usually is establishing that the defendant was negligent in causing the accident that led to the decedent’s death. In most ordinary contexts, negligence means that the defendant did not act in a reasonable and prudent manner. However, there are four elements in a negligence case: duty, breach, causation, and damages. If a defendant owed a duty of care, breached that duty, and caused damages to the plaintiff because of the breach, the defendant likely will be found liable. If a party other than the defendant contributed to the fatal accident, the damages award may be reduced in proportion to the extent that any other party is found to be responsible.
Under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, surviving family members of a victim whose life ended in a fatal accident may be entitled to damages for the loss of the deceased person’s companionship, instruction, guidance, and protection. Also, the decedent’s estate may seek payment for medical expenses, burial expenses, and lost net earnings. When calculating damages, expert witnesses may explore factors such as the deceased person’s occupation, wages, age, marital status, and other related considerations.