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. A Tampa wrongful death lawyer could help you fight for what you are owed.
Wrongful Death Law
The state 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.
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 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.
Who Should File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
In Florida, only the deceased person’s representative can bring a wrongful death action. The representative is usually the deceased person’s estate’s administrator or executor. They must file the claim on behalf of the deceased’s surviving family.
When filing the claim, the representative must identify all the survivors with an interest in the claim, including:
- The surviving spouse
- The surviving children and grandchildren
- Any surviving parent
- Other surviving family members that depended on the deceased person financially when they were alive
In most cases, an action for wrongful death involves filing an insurance claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company. If the insurance company is willing to negotiate fairly and give you a fair settlement that will cover all the losses you sustained due to your loved one’s untimely death, then resolving your claim without involving the court may be possible.
Will My Wrongful Death Claim Turn into a Lawsuit?
Due to the costly losses incurred by surviving family after a wrongful death, the at-fault party’s insurer will usually attempt to deny liability to limit the compensation they owe the surviving family.
When the insurer refuses to make a fair offer or negotiate in good faith for all the applicable losses, you may need to take your case to court to ensure that you recover maximum compensation for your losses.
Bringing a wrongful death lawsuit will also allow for discovery, in which more information and evidence about the death may be obtained and presented. The at-fault party will also be forced to negotiate fairly.
Some cases may head to trial, in which a jury must weigh the evidence and decide whether the at-fault party should be held liable for the surviving family’s damages.
What Our Tampa Wrongful Death Lawyers Can Do for Your Case
The statute of limitations in Florida requires that you bring a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the deceased person’s death. Only under very specific circumstances will the court extend the two-year time limit. In certain cases, the time limit for filing a lawsuit may be shorter or longer.
Also, when wrongful death involves medical malpractice, you must follow the necessary steps before filing your lawsuit.
Not filing your lawsuit within the two-year limit may lead to the court not hearing your case and dismissing it. Due to the requirements and time limits, it’s best to discuss your case with a Tampa wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.
The Tampa wrongful death lawyers at Hancock Injury Attorneys will:
- Launch a thorough investigation into your case
- Consult qualified experts to get an accurate value of your claim
- Ensure that your claim is filed on time
- Handle communications with the at-fault party’s insurer
- Fight for your rights in court if necessary
- Ensure that the settlement or damages award is distributed properly
Our Tampa wrongful death lawyers have the resources and experience to help you face this challenging time. When you’re ready to seek legal guidance, we can discuss your case in a free consultation.
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 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.
You May Be Entitled to Compensation for Your Loss
The death of a loved one is a terrible thing and it may affect every part of your life. While compensation cannot bring your loved one back, it could help you handle the bills associated with the accident and take care of your surviving loved ones. To get started on your case, call the compassionate Tampa wrongful death lawyers at Hancock Injury Attorneys today.
Click here for a free consultation so that you can focus on healing while we take care of everything else.