When your loved one has died in an accident, your family is understandably grieving and trying to process your loss. At the same time, you may be dealing with the financial repercussions of losing a family member. There is quite a bit happening, and none of it is good. You must also begin to address the legal process because getting justice for what happened to your loved one is one way your family can begin healing from the loss.
At Steven A. Bagen & Associates, P.A., we stand up for the rights of injury victims and families who suffered a tragic loss. We achieve six and seven-figure results for our clients, and we can assess your rights.
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 fell from a highrise hotel or apartment building in downtown Gainesville due to a faulty railing, we can help your family if your loved one passed away too soon.
You Must Begin the Legal Process, Even When It Is Hard
Some families may not want to start the legal process because they do not have the physical and emotional bandwidth to handle something significant. However, the longer you wait to seek financial compensation, the harder it may get. In addition, you may have bills left behind from your loved one’s medical care and a shortfall because they are no longer around to bring in money.
You do not have to let the person or company responsible for your loved one’s death get away with it. You can get both justice and financial compensation when you take legal action to hold them accountable. You do not have to do it yourself when you hire a wrongful death attorney. An experienced lawyer can take up your case and handle all the details, allowing your family to focus your attention on other areas.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits Cover the Family’s Damages
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the family is the plaintiff. Because their loved one died from someone else’s wrongful actions, they are the victims, too. The family suffers damages because they do not get to benefit from what their deceased family member provided them when they were still living.
Florida case law says that your family can win a wrongful death case when you show:
- A person died
- The death was the result of someone else’s actions
- Those actions were negligent or intentional
- The family of the deceased suffered damages, either in the form of their physical or financial loss
Negligence Is Often the Basis of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death lawsuit will still have many things in common with every other personal injury lawsuit, even if the family suffered the loss instead of the person who died. Families must still prove the “wrongful” part of the wrongful death. Wrongful means that someone else was responsible for the death because they failed to uphold the required standard of care.
With this in mind, you will need to revisit your loved one’s death and prove that someone else did something to cause it. We understand that this is a painful and traumatic process for your family. We will handle the investigation and deal with the details, so you will not have to involve yourself as much. Of course, you might have to testify if you saw what happened, but you can count on your lawyer to drive this process.
To win your wrongful death case, you must prove that someone else acted unreasonably.
Here are some actions that can lead to a wrongful death settlement or jury award:
- A truck driver struck a car because the driver was speeding
- A person is fatally attacked on someone else’s property because the owner did not provide adequate security
- A customer lost their life in a store because of an escalator accident
- A motorcyclist is thrown from their bike to the pavement when a car makes an illegal left turn in front of them
- A patient dies from cancer because a medication that they took contained a carcinogen
How Florida Wrongful Death Law Works
Florida law also specifies that the personal representative of the estate is the one who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the person died without a will or did not have a personal representative, the court will appoint a person to act in that capacity. The survivors will then agree on how to divide the proceeds of the wrongful death case.
The following people may recover wrongful death damages when they lose a loved one:
- The surviving spouse
- Children who were born out of wedlock
- Family members who depended on the deceased person for support or services (in whole or part)
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The state’s law makes the responsible party liable to pay the family’s damages and the losses the deceased person suffered between their injury and death. The law intends for wrongful death damages to pay the family back for what they lost. The loved one played a valuable role within the family, both financially and materially.
Wrongful death damages may include:
- The value of lost support and services the decedent’s 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)
In addition, the personal representative may also sue to recover the damages that the deceased suffered between their injury and death, including:
- Their lost income
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
How We Determine Wrongful Death Compensation
In determining the award or settlement, the insurance company or jury may consider:
- The age of the deceased at the time they passed away
- Their career path and trajectory
- The role that they played within the family
- The nature of their relationship with each survivor
Given the number of people affected and the enormous scope of potential losses, wrongful death settlements can be very high. The numbers can top $1 million in some cases. The amount of money your family gets depends on the factors above and how hard you fight during the legal process.
Insurance Companies Make the Legal Process Harder on 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.
Suing Companies for Wrongful Death Claims
Many wrongful death cases involved a company—for instance:
- Your loved one can have suffered a fatal injury or illness from a product they bought or a medical device used in a surgical procedure.
- A truck driven for a trucking company may have struck and killed your loved one.
- Your family member may have lost their lives in an accident on the property of a store or business.
In wrongful death lawsuits, corporations have the same status as people. The law considers them the same legal entity as those who work for them everyday. When a corporate employee, or a corporate product, has contributed to the death of your loved one, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the company because the employee is their agent.
These businesses often have extensive insurance policies to protect corporate assets, so your family can receive a large settlement.
It doesn’t matter who was responsible for your loved one’s death. The principles of a lawsuit and your legal right remain the same. You need an attorney who is not afraid to stand up to powerful interests on your behalf and not take no for an answer.
Defendants often do not want to take a wrongful death case to court because they do not wish to incur litigation costs, nor do they want to face a jury. We will dial up the pressure on the responsible party to pay your family what you deserve.
How an Attorney Stands Up for Your Family
Your wrongful death attorney may:
- Investigate the circumstances of your loved one’s death to determine who was to blame
- Gather the evidence that can prove someone else’s fault and entitle you to financial compensation
- Counsel you on your legal options and explain the legal process to you
- File a claim or lawsuit on your behalf, seeking compensation for the damages that you have suffered
- Work to negotiate a settlement if the insurance company or defendant wants to resolve the case.
- Try your case in court if the insurance company does not offer a settlement agreement or they will not offer you enough money.
These are things that you may be unable to do on your own. If your case goes to court, insurance defense attorneys will enter the picture, and you need someone who knows their tricks and how to defeat them.
Call a Gainesville Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
If your loved one has died in an accident or due to someone else’s actions, the attorneys 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 complicated process, and we will handle your case with compassion while standing up to others who may try to take your legal rights from you.