Losing a loved one is always difficult. When their death is due to another person’s negligence or wrongdoing, the pain is immeasurable. While no amount of money will bring back your loved one, seeking compensation for medical bills and other losses through a wrongful death claim can help you deal with the financial repercussions of their accident. Contact a Gainesville wrongful death lawyer at Steven A. Bagen & Associates, P.A. We can help you seek justice on behalf of your loved one.
Why Choose Us for Your Gainesville Wrongful Death Case?
Whether a driver ran a red light at Northwest 34th Street and Northwest 39th Avenue, a truck driver collided with your loved one on I-75, or your family member suffered fatal injuries after falling from a highrise hotel or apartment building in downtown Gainesville due to a faulty railing, our Gainesville personal injury lawyers can help your family if your loved one suffered a wrongful death.
For over 40 years, the experienced lawyers at Steven A. Bagen & Associates, P.A., have stood up for the rights of injury victims and families who suffered a tragic accident or loss. Through the years, we have achieved six and seven-figure results for our clients. We can help you, too.
Contact the Gainesville wrongful death lawyers for your free consultation. Let us explain how we can help you through this difficult time.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death is a death that is caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing of another party. A wrongful death claim is a legal action that can be filed by surviving family members of a wrongful death victim. A wrongful death action allows the surviving family members or beneficiaries of the deceased person to seek compensation for their losses and damages resulting from the death.
Do I Have a Gainesville Wrongful Death Case?
Like most personal injury claims, to have a successful wrongful death lawsuit, you must show the other party acted negligently and that their negligence caused your loved one’s accident. To prove negligence, these four key elements typically must be established:
- Duty of Care: The plaintiff (the party bringing the wrongful death claim) must establish that the defendant (the party being sued) owed a duty of care to the deceased person. Duty of care refers to the legal obligation to exercise reasonable care and caution to avoid causing harm to others. The specific duty of care varies depending on the circumstances and the relationship between the parties involved.
- Breach of Duty: The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant breached the duty of care owed to the deceased person. This means showing that the defendant’s actions or inactions fell below the standard of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under similar circumstances. In other words, the defendant’s behavior was negligent or careless.
- Causation: Causation consists of two parts: proximate cause and actual cause (sometimes referred to as “but-for” causation). Proximate cause means that the defendant’s breach of duty was a substantial factor in causing the death. Actual cause (but-for causation) means that, but for the defendant’s negligent actions, the death would not have occurred.
- Damages: The plaintiff must demonstrate that they suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty and the resulting death. In a wrongful death claim, damages may include financial losses, such as medical expenses, funeral costs, lost financial support, and the emotional and psychological impact on surviving family members.
Types of Gainesville Wrongful Death Accidents
Some common injuries that our firm has assisted with filling a wrongful death claim include:
- Bicycle Accidents
- Birth Injury
- Boating Accidents
- Bus Accidents
- Car Accidents
- Catastrophic Injury
- Construction Accidents
- Drunk Driving Accidents
- Medical Malpractices
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Slip and Fall Accidents
- Truck Accidents
The above is not an encompassing list of the types of accidents someone could potentially file a wrongful death claim for. To better understand if your loss is eligible for a wrongful death claim speak with an experienced wrongful death lawyer.
Wrongful Death Claim vs. Survival Action
Florida law allows loved ones of wrongful death victims to seek compensation either through a wrongful death claim or a survival action, however, the family can only recover compensation from one or the other. Here’s a closer look at the difference between these two claims:
Wrongful Death Actions
Florida law allows only immediate family members of the deceased to bring a wrongful death case for financial compensation for the harm they suffered due to their family member’s death. Surviving family members who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit and seek financial compensation through a wrongful death settlement include:
- The surviving spouse
- Dependent blood relatives or adoptive brothers and sisters
- Children of unmarried parents
Wrongful Death Damages
Florida law allows family members to recover wrongful death damages from the responsible party.
Wrongful death damages may include:
- The value of lost support and services the decedent provided
- The future loss of support and services from the date of death
- The surviving spouse may also recover damages for the loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection.
- The surviving spouse may also recover damages for mental pain since the date of the injury.
- The surviving children may also recover damages for lost parental companionship, instruction, guidance, and mental pain and suffering.
- Each parent of a deceased minor child may also recover damages for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Potential punitive damages if the jury wants to punish the defendant for extreme negligence or recklessness (although Florida has caps on punitive damages in personal injury cases)
A survival action is similar to a wrongful death claim in that they are both a type of personal injury lawsuit. But there are distinct differences. Where a wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the losses suffered by the surviving family members, a survival claim seeks compensation for the damages the decedent suffered before they passed away.
In other words, survival actions seek damages the decedent could have sought had they not died from their injuries.
Survival actions can only be brought by the decedent’s personal representative on behalf of the decedent’s estate. Any compensation awarded is distributed according to the decedent’s will or succession laws.
The personal representative is usually named in the decedent’s will or estate plan. If there is no will or estate plan, then the court will name a personal representative.
Survival Action Damages
The personal representative of the deceased person may seek compensation for accident-related damages suffered by the decedent from the time of the accident until their death. These damages may include:
- Medical expenses incurred between the accident or incident and the decedent’s death
- Lost income from the time of their injury until their death
- Pain and suffering the decedent suffered from their accident injuries
Insurance Companies Make the Legal Process Harder for Families
In any wrongful death lawsuit, you likely have an insurance company at the other end of the table. For example, the driver responsible for your loved one’s death likely had car insurance (assuming they followed Florida law). If there was a company involved, they undoubtedly have an insurance policy.
When you have a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, the insurance company enters the picture, and it is not usually a graceful entrance. While the insurance company is an intermediary acting on behalf of the defendant, they bring their financial interests to the table. The insurance company is responsible for the acts of their policyholder up to the limits of the coverage. However, they do not want to pay the total amount.
Your grief and financial situation mean nothing to the insurance company. They do not conduct business with sensitivity or any degree of compassion. They are compassionate and caring toward their shareholders, who are their real overseers. Accordingly, your lawyer will have to fight for every dollar you get.
You Must Negotiate Wrongful Death Compensation to Get Enough Money
You will likely not get a reasonable settlement offer at first to pay you for your family’s losses. You may need to file a wrongful death lawsuit to maximize your financial recovery. Defendants and their insurance companies often do not get serious about settling a lawsuit until the date of the trial gets closer or the exact extent of their liability comes into view.
Even winning a wrongful death case does not mean your family is at the end of its legal issues.
- You must prepare to receive a large amount of money and decide how you will manage it.
- If children are involved, you may need to establish a trust to manage the money and set terms for how they can use it.
- Even though personal injury proceeds are generally not taxable, you should consider whether your settlement or award may be affected by tax laws.
- The deceased person’s creditors may have a claim to some of the wrongful death proceeds.
How Can a Gainesville Wrongful Death Lawyer Help with My Case?
Studies show that people who hire lawyers to handle their personal injury claims recover significantly more compensation than people who choose to handle these claims on their own. Here’s how a lawyer from a firm like Steven A. Hagen & Associates, P.A. can assist you with your wrongful death claim:
Our attorneys regularly handle wrongful death lawsuits. We have the legal knowledge and experience to navigate the complex laws and regulations that govern these cases. We can provide you with a clear understanding of your rights and the legal options available to you.
Our lawyers can investigate the circumstances surrounding the fatal accident that led to your loved one’s wrongful death, collect evidence, interview witnesses, and work with experts to establish liability. This is crucial in building a strong case.
Identifying Responsible Parties
In wrongful death cases, there may be multiple parties responsible for the death, such as individuals, companies, or government entities. Your lawyer can help identify all potentially liable parties and hold them accountable.
Documentation and Filing
Wrongful death claims involve a lot of paperwork and legal procedures. Our attorney can help you complete and file all necessary documents correctly and within the required deadlines.
Your lawyer can negotiate on your behalf with insurance companies or the opposing parties to reach a fair settlement. They can use their negotiation skills to maximize the compensation you may be entitled to.
If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiations, your lawyer can represent you in court. They will present your case, cross-examine witnesses, and advocate for your rights before a judge and jury.
Dealing with a wrongful death claim can be emotionally challenging. A compassionate lawyer can provide support and guidance throughout the process, helping you cope with the legal and emotional aspects of your case.
Your lawyer’s ultimate goal is to help you recover compensation for damages such as medical expenses, funeral costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.
Contact Our Gainesville Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If your loved one has died in an accident or due to someone else’s actions, the Gainesville wrongful death lawyers at Steven A. Bagen & Associates, P.A. are here to work with you and fight on your behalf. Nothing can replace a family member, but you can recover the financial damage from their departure. We tirelessly advocate for our clients to get the justice and financial compensation they deserve.
The first step is to schedule your free no-obligation initial consultation. You can do this by filling out our contact form online or calling us at (800) 800-2575. We understand that this is a difficult time for you. Our legal team will handle your case with compassion while protecting your rights and seeking the maximum compensation you deserve.