What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Posted on: November 7, 2020

Losing a loved one is one of life’s greatest tragedies.

Here’s how filing a wrongful death lawsuit may be able to help.

 

Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things one can experience. It’s even more painful when that loss is due to another’s negligence.

Nothing can bring your loved one back, but a wrongful death lawsuit can help compensate you for some of the financial and emotional consequences you have undergone.

In this article, we’ll discuss what a wrongful death lawsuit is, who it can benefit, and how to file one.

 

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is one that involves seeking compensation for the negligence of another party in causing someone’s death.

A wrongful death lawsuit could involve:

  • a failed product
  • car accident
  • truck accident
  • motorcycle accident
  • premise liability case
  • or many other negligent acts that lead to the death of an individual.

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

One of the first facts that will need to be identified in a wrongful death lawsuit is whether there are any potential beneficiaries for a recovery for a wrongful death.

The following are potential beneficiaries:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Dependent blood relatives
  • Dependent adoptive siblings
  • Children born out of wedlock to a mother
  • Children born out of wedlock to a father (if it can be shown that the father accepted responsibility for the child)

The Florida law that authorizes monetary compensation for wrongful deaths classifies these individuals as survivors of the deceased. 

These survivors may receive compensation to pay for funeral and burial costs, medical expenses, the survivor’s mental pain and suffering caused by their loss, loss of services of the deceased to the survivor, loss of financial support, loss of companionship, loss of parental guidance and instruction, and other expenses in the past and in the future.

Depending on who is bringing the lawsuit, there are limitations that limit recovery. Children of any age may recover for lost support and service. However, as the children reach their mid-twenties (for example), the parents are likely providing minimal support and services.

If there is no surviving spouse, children may also recover damages for lost parental companionship, guidance, and pain and suffering. If there is a surviving spouse, children over the age of 25 are more limited in what may be recovered. If the deceased was over the age of 25 at the time of death, their parents are not permitted to recover for their pain and suffering unless no other survivors of the decedent exist.

 

When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, your legal representation makes a big difference.

How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

To file a wrongful death action, the claim and/or lawsuit is brought by the Personal Representative of the Estate of the deceased individual. 

If the decedent does not have to go through the probate court process following their passing, the representing attorney must have an estate created in probate court to file a lawsuit or resolve the claim on behalf of the estate. 

This is not something that should be accomplished by just any law firm. You will want an experienced attorney whose firm can either set up the estate themselves or knows of capable counsel to accomplish this task. At Beers & Gordon, we have both set up estates and worked with other firms in this process.

One of the considerations in a wrongful death suit is that the statute of limitations is shortened to only two years. In a general negligence case, the statute of limitations is four years. Thus, if the case is not filed within the two years following the death of the victim, the case will be forever barred. Therefore, it can be important to file lawsuits early in complex cases where all potential defendants may not be known.

The necessity of potentially filing suit early means that experienced litigation attorneys are important when handling wrongful death cases. The attorneys at Beers & Gordon have handled hundreds of these types of claims and know how to identify the potential issues involved.

 

Your Representation Matters

Even a successful wrongful death lawsuit in no way makes up for the loss of your loved one. But having some form of financial compensation can help alleviate the financial and emotional losses you may have also experienced. Lawsuits also prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.

However, wrongful death lawsuits are often very difficult for the survivors. The attorneys and staff at Beers & Gordon empathize with the loss suffered by the survivors and will respect all of the emotional stages of the healing/grieving process.

Experience is vital in these types of claims because, if the claim fails, many survivors feel a similar pain to losing their loved ones all over again. We have had people tell us that if another attorney had advised them that the chance of success was minimal, they never would have put themselves or their family through the turmoil of litigation.

While compensation is important, the best healing for survivors is the most important outcome we seek in wrongful death claims. Therefore, it is important that survivors are not coerced into pursuing difficult cases.

Additionally, the survivors will want experienced attorneys and staff who will limit the burden on the survivors. Once we take over any case—but especially a wrongful death case—we will do everything possible to lessen our clients’ emotional burdens by taking over the claim and litigation ourselves.

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, don’t hesitate to call our office for a consultation. Time is of the essence and our attorneys are standing by to provide knowledge, guidance, and assistance during this difficult time.