Sudden wrongful deaths can leave little time for us even to comprehend the tragedy. Whether it involves a pedestrian tragically struck in a crosswalk or a severe car accident, they leave grieving individuals seeking answers and restitution.
You may deserve compensation to address your loss and suffering. This is where wrongful death lawsuits come into play. Wrongful death cases typically arise from someone’s negligence, so seeking accountability is only natural.
You need a lawyer to make your way through the intricacies of a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida, especially while dealing with grieving family members and other concerned parties. A Tampa wrongful death lawyer will take every step with the utmost care and precision.
You can begin the journey toward justice and closure by understanding the fundamentals of the case and finding the right Florida attorney to provide guidance and support.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death is when an individual or entity causes another person’s death due to negligence, an unlawful action, or a violation of a warranty or contract.
Survival actions involve a claim made on behalf of the deceased’s estate to seek damages incurred before their death. In contrast, wrongful death claims compensate for the losses of the surviving family members.
Murder, or homicide, and wrongful death also differ.
Homicides involve purposeful actions intending to take someone’s life, often involving planning. The severity of a murder charge varies based on the level of premeditation involved.
Murders typically involve a criminal court, which can punish the guilty party with fines, prison sentences, and in some states, execution.
Wrongful deaths typically result from tragic accidents caused by someone’s negligence or carelessness, though they can stem from intentional or criminal acts. Civil courts hear these cases and can award grieving families financial compensation for their economic and emotional losses.
Exploring the Root Causes of Florida Wrongful Death Accidents
Fatal accidents often result from a complex interplay of contributing factors. Here, we will delve into the common contributing factors that can lead to fatal accidents, shedding light on the multifaceted nature of these incidents.
Environmental factors play a big role in many fatal accidents. These may include driving inappropriately in adverse weather like heavy rain, snow, fog, or ice that reduces visibility and traction, leading to car accidents.
Natural disasters like typhoons, hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires can also result in catastrophic outcomes. Adequate infrastructure and disaster preparedness can minimize these factors.
Mechanical failures in vehicles, machinery, or industrial equipment can lead to fatal accidents. Faulty brakes, engine malfunctions, structural weaknesses, and electrical issues are common culprits. Regular maintenance, quality control, and strict adherence to safety standards can prevent accidents stemming from mechanical failures.
Inadequate Safety Regulations
The absence or lax enforcement of safety regulations can lead to fatal accidents. States design these regulations to protect individuals and communities, but accidents become more likely when not enforced or updated with evolving technology. Improving and rigorously implementing safety regulations can curb transportation accidents.
Alcohol, drugs, and other substances significantly contribute to fatal road and workplace accidents. Impaired judgment, reduced reaction time, and decreased cognitive function increase the risk of accidents. Comprehensive education, random testing, and effective substance abuse programs can reduce intoxicated driving.
Fatigue, stemming from long work hours, shift work, or sleep disorders, can impair a driver’s performance and decision-making abilities. Sufficient rest can minimize fatigue-related risks.
Lack of Training
Insufficient training can lead to tragic car accidents. Proper training and ongoing education ensure individuals have the necessary skills and knowledge to drive safely.
Human behavior plays a crucial role in accidents. Reckless driving, risk-taking, and aggressive behaviors can result in severe injuries and fatalities. Promoting responsible behavior through education and public awareness campaigns can help address this contributing factor.
All industries must recognize and address these contributing factors to enhance safety and prevent tragic incidents.
Who Can File a Florida Wrongful Death Claim?
According to Statute Section 768.19, Florida makes the decedent’s personal representative or the individual designated in the deceased person’s will responsible for initiating a wrongful death case in probate court. Without a will, the court will appoint a suitable personal representative.
Even though the personal representative instigates the wrongful death claim, they act on the estate’s behalf. Every action this person takes is for the deceased’s benefit, and the wrongful death claim must include the names of all parties with an interest in the estate. This encompasses every spouse, blood relative, parent, or adoptive relative who relied on the decedent for support or services during their lifetime.
Statute of Limitation for Wrongful Death Claims
Florida Statute § 95.11 (4)(c) sets the legal timeframe for initiating wrongful death lawsuits at two years, commencing from the date of the decedent’s passing.
During these two years, the personal representative of the estate can file a claim for losses incurred due to the death. If they do not commence legal proceedings within this strict two-year timeframe, they forfeit their entitlement to pursue financial compensation.
Does the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Differ When Suing Florida Government Entities?
To pursue a wrongful death claim against a government entity, the claimant must adhere to prescribed procedures, including submitting written notice of the intent to sue the Department of Financial Services within two years.
According to Fla. Stat. § 768.28 (6)(d) (2023), the statute of limitations can temporarily halt or pause while the agency reviews the claim, potentially extending the process beyond the standard two-year limit.
Are There Additional Exceptions to Florida’s Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations?
These exceptions to Florida’s wrongful death statute of limitations can affect the time constraints for such claims:
- Death of the at-fault party: If the individual you are pursuing a wrongful death claim against passes away during the legal proceedings, act swiftly to prevent case dismissal. To address this situation, you must promptly file a motion to appoint the deceased defendant’s estate representative as the new defendant in your wrongful death case within a 90-day window.
- Death of the plaintiff: According to Florida law, the personal representative of the wrongful death victim initiates the claim. Should this representative die, the court overseeing the case may mandate a substitution to allow the proceedings to continue. Talking with an attorney ensures you don’t overlook critical steps during this process.
- Defendant residing out-of-state: The statute of limitations may extend if the defendant is not a Florida resident, necessitating additional time to initiate legal proceedings.
- Missing defendants: In situations where you cannot locate a defendant, the Florida statute of limitations for wrongful death may temporarily halt to prevent individuals from evading legal accountability or waiting until the deadline expires.
- Deaths resulting from murder or manslaughter: As per Fla. Stat. § 95.11 (10) (2023), the statute of limitations does not apply to wrongful deaths arising from murder or manslaughter. In such cases, the personal representative of the estate may initiate a civil wrongful death claim at any time, irrespective of whether an arrest, criminal charges, or a conviction takes place.
If you’re uncertain about the viability of a wrongful death claim and the specific time limits applicable, reach out to our team of reputable attorneys in Florida for a complimentary consultation.
Establishing Wrongful Death in an Auto Accident
You must establish negligence to pursue compensation. Whether through an insurance claim or a legal suit against the responsible party, your case hinges on the argument that the loss of your loved one occurred due to another individual’s wrongful actions or omissions.
Liability for a fatal car accident primarily falls on the at-fault driver, as determined by law enforcement investigations. In some instances, you can hold additional entities financially responsible for the wrongful death of an individual.
Potentially liable parties may include:
- Other drivers in a multi-vehicle collision.
- The at-fault driver’s employer, mainly if the accident occurred while the driver was conducting company business.
- Corporations, such as manufacturers of defective airbag systems, when their products contributed to the fatality.
- Business individuals, such as bar owners, who overserve intoxicated customers, leading to the accident.
- Government agencies, such as state highway departments, that fail to address hazardous road conditions, such as spilled oil, resulting in an accident.
You must establish negligence and identify liable parties to pursue justice for a wrongful death resulting from an auto accident.
Do I Need Help From an Attorney to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Given the emotional toll and complexity of dealing with a wrongful death claim, seek professional legal assistance as soon as possible.
Pursuing a wrongful death claim is a confusing, complicated, and time-consuming process. Hire a lawyer immediately to gather evidence to establish the accountability of the responsible party.
Here is some of the key evidence an attorney can collect:
Surveillance cameras at or near the accident scene can provide invaluable visual documentation of the incident. This footage can establish a timeline and the sequence of events, potentially revealing crucial details.
Medical documentation can demonstrate the extent of the injuries or medical conditions resulting from the accident. These records can establish a direct link between the incident and the victim’s demise.
Official reports filed by law enforcement officers who responded to the accident scene often contain critical information about the parties involved, witness statements, and preliminary findings regarding fault.
Photos of the Accident
Photographs taken immediately after the accident can show the accident scene, vehicle condition, and any relevant road or environmental conditions.
Statements from witnesses can provide unbiased accounts of what transpired. Their perspectives can corroborate your claims and establish the at-fault party’s liability.
You may need to consult an accident reconstruction specialist in complex cases. These experts can use their skills and knowledge to recreate and comprehensively analyze the accident in cases where the other party disputes liability.
While you may wish to have more time for grieving before starting a legal battle, a compassionate and experienced team of Tampa personal injury lawyers at Apex Law Group can significantly alleviate the stress associated with the legal process.