If someone else's negligence has stolen the life of your loved one, you're not alone. Florida has statutes in place that allow beneficiaries to file lawsuits to recover for the wrongful death of an individual. Our Stuart wrongful death lawyers have been defending the rights of those left behind for decades. Wrongful death should never be taken lightly and you may be entitled to significant compensation after sustaining a loss of this magnitude. Below, we will go over a few of the things you may be wondering about if you're considering filing suit in Martin County, Florida.

Understanding wrongful death claims

Wrongful death claims are essentially civil lawsuits where family members sue the party responsible for the death of their family member. In most cases, these deaths are caused by negligence on the part of the accused party.

Florida Statute 768.19 states that "when a person’s death is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default or breach of contract or warranty, the estate of the deceased person may bring such a lawsuit forward."

In Florida, wrongful death cases must be based around the circumstances in which the direct negligence of the accused party led to the death of the decedent, the decedent would have been entitled to personal injury damages had they lived, and the conduct amounts to a wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty.

For example, if a surgeon leaves a tool inside of a patient during a surgery, and that tool causes an infection that leads to the death of the individual who received the surgery, a claim would be warranted. The surgeon would be responsible for a breach of duty, negligence, and death by default of negligence.

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Common wrongful death cases in Stuart

Many situations may warrant claims of wrongful death. Some of the most common circumstances surrounding this type of case include:

  • defective or mislabeled products
  • automobile accidents
  • medical malpractice
  • workplace hazards
  • intentional criminal acts

Product liability and mislabeling

Improper labeling of products and a failure to include proper safety information can lead to wrongful death. For example, a company who mislabels a product as safe when it, in fact, causes severe health problems, may be sued for wrongful death. In the state of Florida, we often see cases where equipment malfunctions or has been built without proper safety mechanisms that lead to death. For example, Jet Skis have in many cases lead to validated claims of wrongful death due to their lack of necessary safety mechanisms.

Automobile fatalities

Car accidents are another common area in which claims are often sustained. If an automobile accident results in the death of an individual who wasn't responsible for the accident, and that accident was caused by the negligence or reckless driving of another person, wrongful death claims are appropriate. An example of this would be if a drunk driver caused a car accident that killed the driver of another vehicle.

Construction and roadway fatalities

Unsafe roadways or construction that causes an accident resulting in the death of someone may also be grounds for a lawsuit. For instance, if a large sinkhole in a roadway is being repaired, and the construction workers direct a driver down a path that caves in and results in the death of the driver or any passengers in the vehicle, a wrongful death claim would be appropriate.

Medical malpractice

Medical malpractice is another common cause of wrongful death. When a physician or care provider fails to perform their duties properly resulting in the death of the patient in their care, a wrongful death claim may be substantiated. For example, if a doctor prescribes medication without factoring in its reaction with the other medications that a patient is on, and that patent later dies as a result, claims could be made by the family of the deceased patient.

Recovering damages in Florida

When someone has been killed before their time due to the negligence of others, the people left behind will usually be entitled to compensation from the parties responsible for the death of their loved one or family member. In the state of Florida, there are specific damage categories that can be recovered under wrongful death laws. The surviving family members and those with ties to the estate can recover these damages after filing and winning claims of wrongful death. Spouses can potentially claim emotional trauma and lost companionship while any minor children may be awarded damages for the loss of their parent. Your Stuart wrongful death lawyer will be able to review your specific case and determine exactly who will be able to claim which damages and how much those damages will potentially amount to.

Filing a wrongful death Lawsuit

If you're considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you'll need to know who is entitled to claim damages and which damages those individuals may be awarded. I personal representative of the deceased must file the suit. In Florida, the statute of limitations of lawsuits is two years. To ensure that your case is filed properly and that your claims will be awarded properly, always retain an experienced Stuart wrongful death lawyer experienced in this area of the law. Leanne L. Ohle, P.A., has won numerous wrongful death lawsuits and can assist you as you build your case and file your suit as well. Lawsuits will usually need to be filed by the representative of the deceased on behalf of the family members surviving the decedent. Any spouse, children, and parents, blood relative, adoptive siblings or anyone in close relation who is “partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services" may receive compensation for their loss.

Our firm understands the stress and grief that often accompany the loss of a loved can be overwhelming. We can begin working with you from the earliest stages of your case to help ensure that your claims will have the best possible chance of being sustained by the court. Time is of the essence. Contact a caring and dedicated wrongful death attorney in Stuart like at Leanne L. Ohle, P.A. to receive justice for your lost loved one today.

 
 

WRONGFUL DEATH FAQs

 

What is the most common cause of wrongful death claims in Florida?

Car accidents, and especially truck accidents, provide the reason for the majority of wrongful death claims from estates in Stuart. Thousands of deaths are attributed to motor vehicle accidents each year in the state. A portion of fatal accidents arise due to a driver's negligence, such as speeding, disobeying traffic signals or intoxication. Distraction due to the use of electronic devices and drowsiness represent other sources of potential negligence. Occasionally, roadway issues arising from neglect or inadequate signage can place liability on the government agency responsible for maintaining the section of road where the fatal crash happened.

Who receives the funds from a wrongful death settlement?

The representative of the decedent's estate brings forward a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the survivors who suffered the loss. Florida's Wrongful Death Act establishes that a surviving spouse, parents and children may collect damages. Additionally, any blood relatives or adopted siblings may have a claim if they were dependent upon the person who died. However, special rules apply to children born outside of marriage. The death of a mother may entitle the surviving child to compensation. The death of a father only creates the possibility of collecting compensation if that man was officially paying child support.

What must the evidence show to win a wrongful death settlement?

The plaintiff in a wrongful death case must supply evidence that satisfies multiple criteria. First, the defendant must be the cause of the other person's death due to negligent action or inaction. The defendant need not have an intention to cause harm. Second, the negligence was the direct cause of the death. Third, surviving family members and dependents experienced financial loss. Finally, the person's death was the direct cause of the expenses suffered by the survivors. Typical expenses in wrongful death cases include medical bills from rescue efforts, burial expenses and loss of support for dependents.

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