Did You Recently Lose a Loved One in an Accident?
Attorney Fuchs has decades of experience representing injured individuals and surviving family members in insurance claims and trial litigation. He is not afraid to seek to hold another individual or business responsible for a defendant’s careless, reckless, or willful misconduct, and he has a track record of obtaining fair results for his clients.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your family after losing a relative is to speak with a Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyer about state law surrounding the topic, and your options moving forward. If your family has a right to wrongful death compensation, then a dedicated injury attorney can represent you through the insurance claim and legal processes.
To schedule a free consultation of your case with a Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer, reach out to David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer today.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims
Attorney David Fuchs handles a wide range of wrongful death claims, including fatal:
- Car Accident
- Truck accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse
- Construction accidents
- Premises liability incidents
- Cruise ship injuries
Fort Lauderdale Wrongful Death Law
The Florida Wrongful Death Act appears in the Florida Statutes Sections 768.16-768.26. These statutes determine:
- When a wrongful death action arises
- Who may pursue a wrongful death claim
- Who may recover damages
- The types of damages that are recoverable through a wrongful death lawsuit
To learn more about these laws and other statutes that may impact your wrongful death case, contact a knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale lawyer today.
What Makes a Death Wrongful?
Under Florida Statute Section 768.19, when another individual’s negligence or misconduct caused a person’s death, and the event would have given the person the right to maintain an action for damages had their death not occurred, then a wrongful death right of action is created. In other words, if your loved one would have had the right to file a personal injury lawsuit had they lived, then your family may be entitled to damages through a lawsuit.
Based on this law, the elements of a wrongful death claim include:
- The at-fault party committed a wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty
- The at-fault party had a legal duty to behave in a different way toward the decedent and breached that duty
- The at-fault party’s conduct directly caused the decedent’s death
- The decedent’s death resulted in quantifiable economic and non-economic losses
Because you must be able to prove each of these elements in order to recover compensation, it is important to work with a Fort Lauderdale wrongful death attorney. You will need strong evidence of the other person’s wrongful conduct, and how it directly caused your loved one’s death. You also will need evidence of you and your family member’s losses. A skilled lawyer in Fort Lauderdale can help collect all this evidence and keep a wrongful death claim on track.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
Florida Statute Section 768.20 outlines who may file wrongful death lawsuits in the state.
Surviving spouses or relatives do not file wrongful death claims in Florida. Instead, the law specifically states that an action shall be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. This individual files the lawsuit on behalf of the decedent’s estate.
The personal representative of your loved one’s estate may be a family member. In fact, this is often the case. But it is not always true. A personal representative could be a long-time romantic partner, a friend, or a professional hired to handle the process.
If you have questions regarding who may file a claim for compensation after a loved one’s death, call a seasoned attorney in Fort Lauderdale today.
Who May Recover Wrongful Death Damages?
Because the personal representative files a claim on behalf of the estate and surviving relatives, it is important to understand who may share in the potential financial recovery. Florida law also determines who may receive compensation in wrongful death lawsuits.
Florida law states that the decedent’s survivors may obtain compensation, and it defines who is or is not a survivor in Florida Statute Section 768.18(1). Survivors include the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and any other relatives who were partly or entirely dependent on the decedent’s support or services. If your loved one left behind a spouse, children, or parents, then these people may obtain portions of any recovered compensation.
Typically, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and other relatives are not entitled to compensation. However, this presumption can be overcome if one of these relatives was financially or physically dependent on the decedent. For example, if your loved one took care of a disabled sibling who is not capable of living on their own, then this sibling has a right to a portion of wrongful death proceeds.
Naturally, you may have questions regarding who can receive compensation and how much various survivors may be entitled to. A Fort Lauderdale wrongful death attorney from David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. can answer all of your questions and prepare you for the potential outcome of your case.
Damages Commonly Seen in a Case
During a wrongful death lawsuit, an attorney can guide a personal representative is seeking a wide range of damages. Certain damages are for the benefit of the estate, while other damages are for specific survivors.
Wrongful death damages often include:
- Burial and funeral expenses for the estate or survivor who paid them
- Medical expenses for the estate or survivor who paid them
- Each survivors’ lost support and services
- Surviving spouse’s loss of consortium – the decedent’s companionship and protection
- Surviving spouse’s mental pain and suffering
- Children’s loss of parental companionship, instruction, guidance, and mental pain and suffering
- Parent of a minor child’s mental pain and suffering
- Loss of decedent’s earnings for the estate
- Loss of estate’s prospective net accumulation
There also are more specific rules attached to these damages. For example, when a decedent leaves behind children, the damages those children are entitled to vary depending on whether they are minors (under the age of 25 years) or adults.
Another possible type of compensation available in wrongful death suits is punitive damages. These are only available under certain circumstances. The personal representative must be able to prove that the at-fault party was malicious or reckless in causing the accident and your loved one’s death. The more egregious or extreme the at-fault party’s conduct, the stronger your claim for punitive damages.
To learn more about the types of damages available after your loved one’s death and the potential value of these damages, talk with a wrongful death attorney in Fort Lauderdale as soon as possible.
How Do Wrongful Death Settlements Work?
When you suffer the loss of a loved one in a fatal accident, your mind may turn to file a lawsuit. You may imagine spending time in court and going to trial. Some wrongful death lawsuits do move forward to trial and are decided by a judge or jury. However, many claims are resolved through a pre-trial settlement.
Attorney David Fuchs will conduct an in-depth investigation into the fatal accident in order to determine who was responsible, which party is liable for compensating your family, and whether there are any relevant insurance policies.
When there is a relevant insurance policy, attorney Fuchs will pursue an insurance claim. This can be a more efficient way of obtaining a fair wrongful death settlement without going through the time and expense of a trial.
Are Wrongful Death Claims Subject to Time Limits?
Under state law, a wrongful death lawsuit must be commenced within two years of the date of decedent’s death.
This may seem like plenty of time, but two years can pass quickly. You may speed through the weeks, months, and the first year after the accident, especially when you are fighting with an insurance company. This is why it is important to speak with a wrongful death attorney about your right to file a lawsuit as soon as possible. You may not wish to file right away, but you should be well aware of your deadline.
Rules for Filing a Claim After a Wrongful Death
Every state has different requirements when it comes to claiming damages for the death of a loved one. In some states, family members such as a spouse or children can file a claim. In other states, only the representative of the deceased person’s estate has the right to file.
Knowing what the law says statewide can help you understand whether you have the right to file after an unexpected death – and if you don’t, who could. A conversation with one of our lawyers can give you more information, but here are four basic laws you need to know:
- When can one file for wrongful death? Unfortunately, not every death will result in the right to compensation. State law defines wrongful death as a death that stems from the “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty” of another person or entity. Furthermore, the circumstances of the death must entitle the injured person to recover damages.
- Who can file in Fort Lauderdale? Florida is one of the states in which only the deceased person’s estate representative can file the claim. The decedent’s will or estate plan might name this person, or the courts can appoint a representative during probate. The representative files a wrongful death claim on behalf of the state and any family members who survive.
- What damages are available? The deceased person’s surviving spouse, children, parents, and any blood relatives who depend on him/her for support could receive damages such as funeral and burial expenses, the value of the decedent’s love and support, the cost of the decedent’s medical bills and lost wages, and compensation for the family’s mental anguish over losing the person.
- How long must a representative bring the claim? The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of death in most cases. There are rare exceptions in which the courts might extend this deadline. It’s important to talk to an attorney as soon as you can after the death of a family member to make sure you don’t miss the deadline and lose your right to file a lawsuit.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Fort Lauderdale Wrongful Death Attorney
If you lost a loved one through a fatal accident, David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. will thoroughly review your circumstances, advise you of your rights and options under state wrongful death law, and when appropriate, represent you in a wrongful death insurance claim or lawsuit. When another person or business is responsible for your loved one’s death, attorney David Fuchs will fight for you to receive the compensation you deserve.
After unexpectedly losing a loved one, do not hesitate to schedule a free, initial case consultation with a Fort Lauderdale Wrongful Death lawyer.
If you cannot come to the Fort Lauderdale office, accident attorney David I. Fuchs will send a representative to see you. His staff speaks English and Spanish. Se habla Inglés y Español.
Llame a David Fuchs abogado de accidentes en la Fort Lauderdale. Ofrece consultas gratuitas.