Florida Wrongful Death FAQs
Clients who come to us because of our experience with wrongful death cases often have some common questions about the process. This site is designed as a resource for clients and visitors alike, which is why we have put together this list of frequently asked questions for your education.
Wrongful death cases are devastating by definition, but sometimes learning what happens next can help to bring some comfort. If you have further questions you cannot find on this list, of course, our Jacksonville fatal accident lawyers are available to speak with you anytime at 877-245-6707.
A: Wrongful death is defined as the death of a person that is caused directly by the conduct of another person, either through a negligent act, or a failure to act. This is distinguishable from a charge of murder in one essential way: wrongful death suits are civil, whereas murder cases are criminal.
A: Wrongful death cases may arise out of a motor vehicle accident, including DUI, a workplace accident, an auto product liability claim or medical malpractice. Each of these case types are different, with different documentation and evidence required, but the thread that runs through them is always the same: if the death was caused by another person, monetary damages may be assigned to family members as a result.
A: As stated above, only surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim. Although the death of a loved one can be devastating to friends and close acquaintances, Florida state law is clear on this subject. Although most wrongful death cases are filed by spouses and parents, you may also file a claim if you are the child of an individual whose death may have been caused by another person or party.
A: Damages in any wrongful death case can take a number of forms. First and foremost, you can be compensated for the medical and funereal fees associated with the death itself. You can also recover funds associated with the future earning potential of the deceased individual, as well as any loss of financial support of household services. Juries may also, at their discretion, assign funds to the emotional loss of companionship that accompanies a death such as this, as well as assign a punitive amount if the act in question was especially negligent or brazen.
If you have been seeking a team of wrongful death attorneys here in Jacksonville, Florida, we can help. Please do not hesitate to contact the wrongful death attorneys of Farah & Farah today for a free consultation on the best way to wage and win a wrongful death case.
A: A murder charge is filed in criminal court, while a wrongful death lawsuit is handled in civil courts. In a criminal case, a defendant found guilty is punished for the crime with jail time. In a civil case, the defendant is found “liable” and is held financially responsible for the victim’s death. In a criminal murder case, the burden of proving guilt is on the prosecution. In a wrongful death case, the burden of proving liability is on the plaintiff. Also, in murder cases, juries look at the defendant’s intent in terms of committing the crime. In wrongful death cases, jurors determine whether the defendant was negligent and caused the decedent’s fatal injuries.
A: To be successful with a wrongful death claim, plaintiffs must prove that:
- Their loved one’s death was caused by the defendant or that the defendant’s actions or lack of action contributed to the death.
- The death occurred as a direct result of the defendant’s negligence or wrongdoing.
- The decedent’s death affected family members, survivors or dependents financially.
- The loved one’s death resulted in expenses or monetary damages.
A: In a personal injury case, damages are awarded based on the impact the injury may have on the affected party. But, damages in a wrongful death compensate the surviving family members for the impact the loss of the decedent has on their emotional and financial well-being. In a wrongful death case, plaintiffs will most often be awarded compensatory damages that may cover the cost of medical care, funeral and burial expenses, and other costs the family may have incurred because of their loved one’s death.
As part of compensatory damages, courts may award plaintiffs income the decedent may have earned if they lived. In such cases, lost income will be calculated based on the age of the victim at the time of death, the victim’s average life expectancy, and earning potential. Compensatory damages can also be awarded for the value of the decedent’s contribution to the household such as housekeeping or childcare services. Non-economic damages such as grief and emotional distress may also be included here. Besides compensatory damages, the court may also decide to award punitive damages to family members, particularly if the defendant’s reckless or egregiously negligent acts resulted in the untimely death of the decedent. Punitive damages are imposed in addition to compensatory damages.
A: Plaintiffs do not have an unlimited amount of time to bring about a wrongful death claim. The Statute of Limitations sets forth strict time limits within which a claim can be brought. If a claim is not brought within a certain time, it can be forever barred. Under Florida, surviving family members of a person who dies as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing must bring the wrongful death action within two years of the date of death. But, there are some exceptions. Under the Jeffrey Klee Memorial Act of 2010, there is no statute of limitations to file a wrongful death action if the death was the result of a homicide.
Losing a loved one in an untimely manner can be devastating for families not only emotionally, but also financially. Filing a lawsuit in an efficient and timely manner is critical when it comes to recovering compensation and support that can help family members move forward.
For more information about pursuing your legal rights, call a Jacksonville FL injury lawyer at Farah & Farah at 877-245-6707.