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Understanding a Wrongful Death in Lawsuit in Florida

If you have recently lost a family member and you believe that another person or entity caused, or contributed to the death of your loved one, as a survivor, you should be aware of your options and should have a basic understanding of how a wrongful death lawsuit works in Florida. Learn more about Florida wrongful death in this presentation.

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Understanding a Wrongful Death in Lawsuit in Florida

  1. 1. If You Have Recently Lost a Family Member and You Believe that Another Person or Entity Caused, or Contributed to, the Death of Your Loved One, as a Survivor, You Should Be Aware of Your Legal Options and Should Have a Basic Understanding of How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works in Florida UNDERSTANDING A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT IN FLORIDA AMANDA POWERS SELLERS AND JENNA C. FINKELSTEIN
  2. 2. When a loved one dies, the grief often seems unbearable. If the death was a wrongful death, the sense of loss is even more profound because the death may have been preventable. If you have recently lost a family member and you believe that another person or entity caused, or contributed to, the death of your loved one, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Florida wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Clearly, no amount of compensation can make up for your loss; however, as a survivor you should be aware of your legal options and should have a basic understanding of how a wrongful death lawsuit works in Florida.
  3. 3. WHAT IS A WRONGFUL DEATH IN FLORIDA? In the State of Florida, the definition of a “wrongful death” is found in the state’s Wrongful Death Act. According to the Act, a wrongful death is one that is caused by a “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty.” In other words, a wrongful death can be the result of: An intentional act – imagine a bar fight. The defendant engages in an intentional act of assault with another patron. The fight goes too far and the defendant lands a fatal blow to the victim. While this may lead to criminal charges as well, it is certainly the basis for a civil wrongful death lawsuit based on intentional conduct. A negligent act–a doctor who makes a medical error is a good example of negligent conduct leading to a wrongful death. Assume that a doctor mistakenly leaves a foreign object (a sponge for example) in a victim’s surgical incision and the foreign object causes the victim to suffer from a fatal infection. That error would likely be considered to be negligent conduct and. Therefore, form the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit. Strict liability–sometimes the law makes a defendant responsible for injuries regardless of any efforts on the part of the defendant to prevent injury. Dog attacks, for example, are often strict liability torts by state statute. In this case, the law, essentially by default, makes the dog’s owner responsible and culpable for a wrongful death that stems from a dog bite.
  4. 4. WHO CAN PURSUE A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT? Although a wrongful death lawsuit cannot turn back the clock and prevent the loss of your loved one it can accomplish two important things. First, it can provide financially for you and your family, something your loved one would undoubtedly want to occur. Second, it holds the wrongdoer legally responsible for the wrongful conduct that lead to, or contributed to, your loss. In Florida, there are actually two parts to a wrongful death lawsuit because both the decedent’s estate and survivors of the decedent may be entitled to compensation. Therefore, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, usually the executor of the decedent’s Last Will and Testament, may pursue compensation on behalf of the estate. In addition, certain survivors of the decedent may also pursue compensation, including: The decedent’s spouse The decedent’s children (although minor children, defined as those under the age of 25, are entitled to higher damages) The decedent’s parents When they were at least partially dependent on the decedent for support or services, blood relatives including adoptive brothers and sisters.
  5. 5. WHAT COMPENSATION IS AVAILABLE IN A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT? In a Florida wrongful death lawsuit there are actually two separate categories of compensation available because both the estate and the survivors may pursue compensation. The estate of the decedent may be entitled to the following types of compensation: Loss of Net Accumulations Decedent’s Lost Earnings Decedent’s Medical And Funeral Expenses The survivors in a Florida wrongful death lawsuit may also be entitled to the following compensatory damages: Mental pain and suffering Lost support and services of the decedent Loss of the companionship and protection of the decedent Medical or funeral expenses if the survivor paid them Lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance if the survivor is a child The aforementioned damages are compensatory in nature, meaning that they are intended to compensate the survivors or the estate for actual damages suffered. If the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious, punitive damages could be awarded.
  6. 6. Because punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant and discourage others from engaging in the same conduct, they are only available if the defendant’s intentional, reckless, or grossly negligent actions resulted in a wrongful death. Because of the wide variety of factors that go into determining the value of a Florida wrongful death case, it is always best to consult with an experienced Florida wrongful death attorney who can evaluate the unique facts and circumstances of your case. Moreover, because the law limits the amount of time a survivor has to pursue compensation in a Florida wrongful death case, it is best to consult with a wrongful death attorney as soon as you suspect that the death of a loved one was caused by wrongful conduct. Florida Statutes, 768.18 Florida Statutes, 766.118 Lexis Nexis, Florida High Court Strikes Down Statutory Caps on Medical Malpractice Noneconomic Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
  7. 7. ABOUT THE AUTHORS Amanda Powers Sellers Florida criminal defense lawyer, Amanda Powers Sellers, has aggressively defended thousands of Florida criminal cases. With over nine years of criminal jury trial experience, she has the necessary background to represent cases ranging from Driving under the Influence (DUI) to First Degree Murder. Amanda is a seasoned litigator and an aggressive negotiator. With a wealth of experience she has proven that her gentle, but aggressive style of criminal defense litigation consistently achieves results for her clients. Jenna C. Finkelstein Florida criminal defense attorney, Jenna Finkelstein, has over sixty (60) criminal jury trials to her credit. Her experience defending individuals charged with crimes in the state of Florida ranges from domestic battery to DUI Manslaughter, Sexual Battery, First Degree Murder and all crimes in between. She is passionate about the law and promises personal attention to all of her clients and their individual needs. Jenna is a seasoned trial attorney who knows the legal system and its players. Jenna and her team at the Law Offices of Powers Sellers & Finkelstein, PLC, are committed to fighting for you. Powers Sellers & Finkelstein, PLC 6344 Roosevelt Blvd. Suite B Clearwater, FL 33760 727-531-2926 http://psffirm.com

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If you have recently lost a family member and you believe that another person or entity caused, or contributed to the death of your loved one, as a survivor, you should be aware of your options and should have a basic understanding of how a wrongful death lawsuit works in Florida. Learn more about Florida wrongful death in this presentation.

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