Coping with the loss of a close loved one is one of the most harrowing experiences anyone can face. However, the situation becomes even more difficult if a loved one dies in a preventable incident.

Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents, premises accidents, medical negligence, and other wrongful acts lead to the untimely deaths of loved ones every single day.

If you recently lost a loved one due to someone else’s wrongful act, you can pursue monetary compensation by filing a wrongful death claim or pursuing litigation in the state court system.

Although no amount of money can ever compensate for losing a close loved one, it can help to bring about a sense of fairness, justice, and closure for you and other surviving family members. If you need assistance, consult with a Gainesville wrongful death lawyer to explore your legal options and pursue the justice your loved one deserves.

If you lost a loved one in an occurrence that resulted from another person’s or entity’s negligence, you should consult an experienced wrongful death attorney in your jurisdiction right away.

Your attorney can determine your eligibility for filing a wrongful death claim or lawsuit and handle every step of the process. Specifically, your attorney may gather the documentation necessary to prove your wrongful death claim.

Additionally, your lawyer can handle all settlement negotiations with insurance company representatives, file a wrongful death lawsuit in the court system, and pursue a favorable resolution.

During this difficult time, while you and other family members grieve the loss of your loved one, your wrongful death attorney can handle the legal steps of the process for you. They can also represent you in all legal proceedings and pursue the highest amount of monetary recovery you need for closure and justice.

Schedule A Free Consultation

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death is a death that occurs as the result of someone else’s wrongful act. Although individuals may commit wrongful acts, corporations, and other legal entities may also do so. Wrongful acts can be negligent, reckless, or intentional and criminal.

Whether individuals are eligible to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit depends upon the jurisdiction where the occurrence happened. In some jurisdictions, surviving family members will first open an estate after their loved one’s untimely death.

The estate must appoint a personal representative to act on behalf of the estate and file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, if appropriate. In other jurisdictions, several types of surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, either individually or as a group.

Those family members may include the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, and more distant relatives if no other relatives are available to file the claim.

If you recently lost a loved one because of someone else’s wrongful act, a wrongful death lawyer in your jurisdiction can determine your eligibility for filing a claim or a lawsuit.

If you proceed, your attorney can begin gathering essential documents to prove your case and may then assemble those documents into a settlement demand package. Your attorney can then file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company and pursue a favorable settlement offer from them.

In any wrongful death claim, the claimants or the individual filing the claim has the sole legal burden of proof. On the other hand, the at-fault individual or entity does not need to satisfy a burden of proof or meet any requirements.

First, the wrongful death claimant must establish that the at-fault party owed the deceased individual a legal duty of reasonable care.

For example, if the decedent lost their life in a fatal car accident, the at-fault driver had a duty to drive prudently and carefully and obey all traffic laws and regulations while operating their vehicle on the road.

Additionally, the wrongful death claimant must establish that the at-fault party violated their legal duty of care by acting unreasonably under the circumstances. 

For example, in the context of a fatal car accident claim, the at-fault driver might have violated a traffic law, engaged in reckless driving or road rage, or operated their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Next, the wrongful death claimant needs to show that the fatal occurrence happened as a result of the other party’s negligent actions. For instance, in a car accident scenario, the claimant must demonstrate that the fatal car crash directly resulted from the other party’s negligent act.

Finally, the wrongful death claimant must establish that they or a loved one’s untimely death was both the actual and the foreseeable cause of the other party’s negligence.

In some wrongful death cases, insurance companies dispute fault or liability. For example, they may allege that their insured did nothing wrong or that the decedent somehow caused or contributed to their accident.

The insurance company might also claim that the decedent’s death resulted from something other than the occurrence. In those types of cases, a wrongful death lawyer may be in a position to retain a certified accident reconstructionist to determine how the accident happened and who was responsible.

An accident reconstructionist can obtain forensic evidence from the scene of the occurrence, speak to witnesses, and gather other documents and information. They may then draft their own report about the circumstances surrounding the accident. 

A certified accident reconstructionist might also testify as a witness, for example, during a discovery deposition or civil jury trial that takes place during wrongful death litigation.

An experienced wrongful death lawyer near you can retain the necessary experts to establish your legal burden of proof in a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. Your lawyer may also request that these individuals testify in court on your behalf and in support of your wrongful death case.

Types of Occurrences That May Lead to a Wrongful Death

When other individuals and entities behave wrongfully or negligently under the circumstances, they may bring about an accident that causes the accident victim’s untimely death.

Some of the most common occurrences that may lead to a wrongful death claim or lawsuit include:

  • Motorcycle and bicycle accidents
  • Passenger vehicle accidents
  • Motor vehicle collisions that involve commercial trucks, including 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, and big rigs
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Mass transit accidents (including bus accidents)
  • Slip-and-fall accidents that occur on someone else’s property
  • Third-party attacks that take place on someone else’s property due to inadequate security
  • Criminal acts by third parties
  • Medical errors and malpractice
  • Construction site accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Boating accidents
  • Elevator and escalator accidents.

If you lost a loved one in one of these occurrences that resulted from someone else’s careless or wrongful act, you are not alone.

A knowledgeable and compassionate wrongful death attorney can quickly investigate the circumstances of the fatal occurrence and work to streamline the process going forward.

Your attorney can then file the appropriate claim on your behalf with the at-fault party’s insurance company and begin working to recover the favorable monetary damages you need and deserve.

Negotiating a Wrongful Death Claim

If you recently lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligent or wrongful act, your attorney can file the appropriate wrongful death claim on your behalf.

In any situation, you will deal with the insurance company for the at-fault individual or entity who caused the occurrence.

When filing a wrongful death claim on your behalf, your attorney will gather and assemble various documents that may later serve as evidence in your case.

Those documents can include:

  • Incident reports detailing the accident circumstances
  • Police investigation reports
  • Reports from accident reconstructionists and other potential experts
  • Medical treatment records
  • Funeral and burial invoices
  • Documentation from an employer which shows the amount of money the decedent earned before their death
  • Photographs of the accident scene
  • Pictures of the decedent’s visible injuries
  • Property damage photographs
  • Video footage that shows the accident taking place (if available).

Once the insurance company adjuster handling the wrongful death claim reviews this information, the settlement negotiation process may begin.

However, even when a loved one’s untimely death is involved, insurance companies will look for any way to deny liability for an accident or offer as little monetary compensation as possible to settle the case.

Insurance companies take this approach in an attempt to save themselves money. After all, they are not truly looking out for your legal rights or interests.

A skilled wrongful death attorney in your area will know the insurance company’s usual tactics and how to combat those tactics with an aggressive negotiation strategy.

For example, your lawyer can threaten the insurance company with litigation if they refuse to offer you and your family favorable monetary compensation. Additionally, your attorney can point to substantial evidence in the case, including expert testimony and written reports that favor your case.

If litigation becomes necessary, your attorney can file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state court system and begin taking the steps necessary to achieve a favorable result on your behalf.

How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

According to the statute of limitations, a wrongful death claimant has two years – starting on the date of the decedent’s death – to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state court system.

Unless an exceptional circumstance applies, if a claimant fails to take legal action and files a lawsuit outside this statutory timeframe, they will, unfortunately, waive the right to recover any monetary damages.

Given the relatively short amount of time for filing, a wrongful death claimant must seek legal counsel as quickly as possible after their loved one’s death.

In a wrongful death claim, litigation is typically necessary if the insurance company adjuster denies liability for the occurrence or simply refuses to take the case seriously and offer sufficient monetary compensation.

During litigation, your lawyer can handle every step of the process for you, including answering written interrogatories from the defense attorney and preparing you for a discovery deposition in your case.

Additionally, your lawyer can represent you during all in-court proceedings, including settlement conferences and mediation sessions. If your case does not resolve the end of litigation, your attorney can represent you at a civil jury trial or alternative dispute resolution proceeding.

If your case goes to a jury trial, a jury will decide the amount of monetary compensation to award you.

At the same time, at a binding arbitration hearing, a type of alternative dispute resolution, a pre-selected third-party arbitrator will review documentary evidence in the case, listen to witness testimony, and decide the final issue of damages.

Recovering Wrongful Death Damages

Following a loved one’s untimely death due to someone else’s wrongful act, a claimant may receive monetary damages, depending on the jurisdiction where the occurrence happened:

  1. A wrongful death claimant may recover economic damages, including the costs associated with their loved one’s funeral and burial expenses.
  2. They may receive compensation for the decedent’s medical expenses leading up to their untimely death. If the wrongful death claimant and other surviving family members were dependent upon the decedent for economic support, they can claim future lost earnings. They can also claim pain and suffering to compensate for the symptoms the decedent experienced up until the time of their death.
  3. A wrongful death claimant may pursue non-economic damages to compensate for losing the deceased individual’s companionship, guidance, counsel, comfort, and care.

Besides that, in some jurisdictions, a wrongful death claimant may receive punitive damages. Punitive damages punish the wrongdoer who brought about the occurrence and discourage other individuals from acting similarly. Some jurisdictions limit punitive damages.

A knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer in your jurisdiction can determine the likely value of your wrongful death claim or lawsuit based on the surrounding circumstances and other factors. Your attorney will then do everything they can to maximize your monetary award through settlement or litigation.

Steven A. Bagen Attorney for Wrongful Death Accident Cases near Gainesville, Florida area
Steven A. Bagen, Wrongful Death Lawyer in Gainesville, Florida area

Speak With a Wrongful Death Attorney Near You Today

If you recently lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligent, careless, or wrongful act, consult an experienced wrongful death lawyer in your area.

Your personal injury attorney in Gainesville can promptly investigate the circumstances surrounding the occurrence and file a claim or lawsuit on your behalf. They will tirelessly work to maximize your compensation and bring a sense of closure and justice for you and your family.