Although your loved one’s death may have been accidental, it happened because someone was careless or acted with reckless disregard for safety. Since 1996, personal injury attorney Mike Hancock has sought justice for family members devastated by a death that never should have happened.
Our legal team has a proven capacity to hold motorists, medical providers, property owners and other parties accountable for a life cut short and the impact on the survivors left to put their shattered lives back together.
Florida’s Wrongful Death Law
Florida has a specific set of laws collectively known as the Florida Wrongful Death Act, which provides for reasonable and just compensation to the decedent’s estate and the decedent’s survivors. Beyond the emotional impact, we understand that survivors often face unexpected medical bills and funeral expenses, unplanned time off work, and the sudden loss of the deceased’s income and non-financial contributions to the family.
Hancock Injury Attorneys represent clients in wrongful death claims arising from many types of accidents, including:
- Auto accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle crashes
- Pedestrian or bicyclist accidents
- Boating accidents
We have the resources to advance the considerable costs of hiring investigators and experts to establish liability, which we recover only if we win compensation for our clients.
What is a wrongful death case?
A wrongful death case exists when a person dies due to the legal fault of another person. Wrongful death claims involve all types of fatal accidents from simple car accidents to complicated product liability cases. Persons, companies, and governmental agencies can be legally at fault for acting negligently. Florida’s Wrongful Death Act is found at Section 768.16, Florida Statutes.
Wrongful death claims can result from any number of different facts situations grounded in negligence. For example, we have successfully represented the surviving adult children of a father who drowned in a boating accident. This was a product liability case in which the marine steering system failed, causing the boat steering to lock, throwing the deceased from the boat. We claimed negligence against all the parties in the chain of commerce, including the retailer, and the manufacturer. Another example is the death of a husband and father due to the negligence of his nursing home. We successfully recovered for his surviving wife and adult children, against the medical staff and nursing home company.
Wrongful Death Compensation
We are dedicated to achieving justice for our clients by holding the negligent parties and their insurance companies accountable for all the harms and losses caused by the wrongful death. Under Florida law, spouses, parents or dependent children can bring suit for:
- Medical expenses and funeral expenses
- Projected earnings based on the life expectancy of the deceased
- Loss of benefits and net accumulations of the estate
- Household contributions (chores, parenting duties)
- Mental pain and suffering of survivors
- The surviving spouse’s loss of companionship, consortium, and comfort
- The surviving child’s loss of companionship, instruction, and guidance
- Punitive damages in certain circumstances of intentional or reckless acts
Our personal injury attorneys work closely with family members to understand the role that the deceased played in their daily lives and how the death has adversely changed the present and the future, and incorporate that into litigation through day-in-the-life videos, testimonials and other methods to bring the point home to insurance negotiators or a jury.
Why Do I Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Wrongful death claims are treated differently from other negligence cases in Florida. The following are examples of some of the unique issues inherent in Florida wrongful death claims:
- It is necessary to prove that the death was caused by the misconduct of another person or company. This can be complicated at times when other potential causes are present. An example would be the seriously ill person who is given improper medication in the hospital. In that circumstance, the defense often argues that the death was really just the natural progression of the underlying disease or condition.
- It is always necessary to prove the life expectancy of the deceased in order to determine what their future losses would be. This is not a major problem if the deceased was in perfect health at the time of the misconduct. But, it becomes complicated if the deceased had a life-threatening or life-shortening disease or condition.
- It is likewise necessary to prove the life expectancy of each survivor or beneficiary. After all, the future relationship would only have existed during the period of the joint life expectancy of the deceased and the survivor.
- The nature of the relationship between the deceased and the survivor, in all of its relevant aspects, must be fully developed and presented. Sometimes the relationship is almost storybook perfect and sometimes it is quite different. In either event, it needs to be understood and documented in order to support the individual claim of the survivor.
- If a survivor dies before judgment in a wrongful death claim, the recovery for that now deceased survivor is limited to the lost support and services to the date of his or her death. The personal representative shall pay the amount recovered to the personal representative of the deceased survivor.
- Much of the true loss in a wrongful death claim is non-economic or emotional in nature. This requires special skills and care in the development of the proof and in its presentation. It is a matter that is quite different from just permitting an injured person to describe his or her back pain.
- It is mandatory that each of the survivor’s claims is developed and presented fairly without favoring or appearing to favor one survivor over another. This is especially true in those situations where, for example, the widow is the personal representative of the estate of the deceased with the responsibility to present a claim on her own behalf and another claim on behalf of a stepchild. There are many other situations that require a special effort be made to assure a fair process at every step of the claim for each survivor. Hopefully, you’ll never have to file a wrongful death claim, but if in the unfortunate case you do, hiring an attorney will give you the greatest chance of receiving the most compensation.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to settle a wrongful death claim?
The time it takes to complete a wrongful death settlement or trial greatly depends on the number of people involved and whether the at-fault person contests the claim. The process begins when a representative of the family makes a claim against the person responsible for the death. If the insurance company for the at-fault person is agreeable, then the sided might settle out of court. If not, then it will go to a trial which can take more time.
Who can Sue for a Wrongful Death Case?
Florida law gives the right to make a claim to close family members of the deceased. This is usually the parent, child or spouse of the deceased or anyone who was dependent on the deceased. Each person makes a claim based on their own relationship with the deceased.
Do I need an attorney for a wrongful death claim?
Florida law doesn’t require a wrongful death case to be brought by an attorney. It does require that a representative of the family files a wrongful death claim. This can be an attorney or the executor of the estate of the deceased. Getting an experienced attorney to help with the process is important because the insurance company will have their attorneys.
Wrongful Death Attorneys
At Hancock Injury Attorneys, we have the experience, skill, and knowledge to win your case. Contact us for a free confidential initial consultation at 813-915-1110. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.