Seminole Wrongful Death Attorney
A settlement or award in a wrongful death case doesn’t bring back a lost loved one or come close to making up for the loss. It does, however, provide much-needed financial support to a family who is grieving the loss of a beloved family member and struggling to deal with the loss of a wage earner, homemaker, or caregiver while dealing with final medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, and other unexpected costs. Equally important, a wrongful death lawsuit is about holding responsible parties accountable for their actions and setting examples to make the community safer for others. This is something we know a lot about at Reep Coleman & Stubbendorff. As former criminal prosecutors, we went to court every day to hold people personally responsible for their misdeeds and the impact their misconduct had on others. We do the same thing today in our civil practice. We can’t bring back your loved one or make up for the loss, but we can help you get real financial help and hold the responsible parties accountable for the life they took through their negligence. Contact our experienced Seminole wrongful death attorney today.
Claims for Compensation Under Florida Wrongful Death Law
Florida law authorizes a wrongful death lawsuit when the death of a person is caused by any person’s wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty. The same actions that could create a personal injury claim can also create a wrongful death claim; the only difference is whether the accident was fatal or not. Wrongful death cases can be based on any of the following, for example:
- Car, Truck and Motorcycle Accidents
- Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents
- Bus Accidents
- Boat Accidents
- Slip and Fall Accidents
- Dog Bites & Animal Attacks
A wrongful death claim can be started by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate, who is appointed by the local court, such as the Pinellas County court, after a probate estate has been opened. Any proceeds from such a claim, whether through a settlement or judgment in court, get distributed either to the estate or to surviving family members named in the complaint, who could include a surviving spouse, minor children, parents, and other relatives (blood relatives and adoptive siblings) who were dependent for support on the deceased.
The estate, through the personal representative pursuing the case, can recover compensation for the following:
- Final medical bills
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The value of earnings that were lost between the time of the injury and when the death occurred
- The value of income and benefits the deceased would likely have earned and kept as savings or left to the estate had the wrongful death not occurred.
Individual family members can also receive compensation based on their relationship to the deceased and the value of future income or services that have now been lost. Any family member who paid medical or funeral expenses can recover those costs as well. Additionally, Florida law sets out damages for specific family members as follows:
- The surviving spouse can recover for the loss of companionship, protection, and mental pain and suffering
- The deceased’s minor children can recover for lost parental companionship, instruction, guidance, and mental pain and suffering
- The deceased’s grown children can recover for lost parental companionship, instruction, guidance, and mental pain and suffering if there is no surviving spouse
- Each parent of a deceased minor child can recover for mental pain and suffering
- Each parent of a deceased adult child can recover for mental pain and suffering if there are no other survivors
If the defendant’s actions in causing the death were intentional or grossly negligent as defined in the law, then the plaintiffs in the lawsuit can seek punitive damages as well. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for especially reckless conduct and can be several times the compensatory damages award depending on the defendant’s actions and personal wealth.
Contact Reep Coleman & Stubbendorff Today
The persons bringing a wrongful death claim will have to prove that the defendant was negligent and that this negligence caused the death. In many ways, a wrongful death claim can be more challenging than a personal injury claim, and the assistance of a skilled and dedicated lawyer is essential to bringing the case to a successful conclusion, whether settling out of court or going to trial. The lawyers at Reep Coleman & Stubbendorff have that dedication and skill you need to advocate solidly on your behalf while you are going through an extremely difficult time in your life. Contact our experienced Seminole wrongful death attorney today to discuss your needs, concerns and how we can help.