Clearwater Wrongful Death Lawyers
How Can a Clearwater Wrongful Death Lawyer Help?
If you’ve lost a loved one unexpectedly, you probably have a lot of unanswered questions. A wrongful death lawyer can help bring comfort and closure to grieving loved ones. First, a lawyer investigates the circumstances that led to your family member’s death. Then, they will help determine liability for the accident, inform you of your legal rights, and can file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Expenses from medical bills and funeral costs can begin to deplete the financial resources available to the family. Wrongful death lawsuits provide surviving family members an opportunity to seek compensation for losses resulting from their loved one’s passing.
If you suspect someone else’s negligence caused the death of a loved one, contact the experienced wrongful death lawyers at The Fran Haasch Law Group. We are deeply sorry for your loss and want to help you in any way we can. Let us worry about your legal claim while you take time to heal from your loss.
What is Considered Wrongful Death in Florida?
The definition of wrongful death may vary from state to state. According to Florida Statute 768.19, a wrongful death occurs “When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person.” You can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit if the deceased would have been able to file a personal injury claim if the injury wasn’t fatal. Therefore, wrongful death is when a person dies, and another party is legally responsible for the accident or injury that caused the death. This can occur due to:
- Defective products
- Medical malpractice
- Intentional acts
- Accidental death as a result of another crime
Wrongful Death Can Occur in Many Ways
Car, Truck, and Motorcycle Accidents
Many traffic accidents are preventable and only happen because another driver is acting negligently. Unfortunately, these accidents frequently result in fatalities. Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reported 3,343 fatal crashes in Florida in 2020.
Negligent drivers who violate traffic regulations, use alcohol or drugs, or drive recklessly can be found legally responsible for damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Scooter Accidents
People walking, running, bicycling, or riding scooters are more vulnerable to severe injury or death if they are hit by a car because they have less physical protection. Drivers who violate traffic laws or drive recklessly could be liable for damages in a wrongful death suit involving a pedestrian, cyclist, or scooter rider.
Florida has miles of coastline and waterways to explore. The increased access to water results in increased boating accidents. In 2020, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported 79 boating fatalities in Florida. When a boat operator behaves carelessly or makes poor decisions that lead to someone’s death, they could be held responsible for damages in a wrongful death case.
We spend a lot of time where we work. As a result, occupational accidents and injuries frequently happen. In 2019, there were 306 work injury fatalities in Florida, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were 5,333 fatal works injuries nationwide in 2019. Deaths that occur at the workplace can be complicated cases. Certain occupations are more likely to experience fatal accidents. These occupations include construction, transportation and materials movers, and heavy truck and tractor-trailer truck drivers.
There are usually several parties who could be liable, including property owners, employers, contractors, and other third parties. A wrongful death lawyer can help determine if a death was preventable and, if it was, which entity was responsible for the individual’s wrongful death. Common workplace fatalities result from:
- Transportation incidents
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments
- Workplace violence
- Other injuries by persons or animals
Medical negligence or malpractice happens when a healthcare professional fails to provide the correct or necessary intervention or provides a substandard treatment that causes harm or death to a patient. A skilled lawyer will gather the required evidence to determine if a wrongful death lawsuit is possible. Examples of medical malpractice include:
- Failing to diagnose or giving the wrong diagnosis
- Disregarding patient history
- Prescribing or giving improper medication or dosage
- Misreading or overlooking lab results
- Unnecessary surgery
- Surgical errors or wrong-site surgery
- Premature discharge from facility or care
- Lack of follow-up care
Slip and Fall Accidents
People who have slip and fall accidents might experience minor to severe injuries and even death. Unfortunately, seniors are the most at risk for fatality after a fall. According to The Florida Department of Health, accidental falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among individuals age 65 and older living in Florida. In 2019, 3,013 seniors in Florida died as a result of a fall.
Property owners must maintain their premises, so it is safe for visitors. When the owner doesn’t uphold that duty, and someone falls on their property, they can be found negligent. In addition, a slip and fall resulting in death could lead to a wrongful death lawsuit.
Swimming Pool Accidents
Drowning accidents are a horrible tragedy and one of the leading causes of death for children ages 1-4 in Florida. Most of these devastating accidents occur in home swimming pools. Drowning prevention includes:
- Water safety education
- Physical barriers
- Safe pool filters and drain system
- Emergency preparedness
Property owners must maintain their pool areas in a manner that protects others from injury or death. For example, a pool owner might be found negligent if:
- They fail to maintain proper fencing around a pool.
- They do not supervise children.
- There is a defective swimming pool filter or drain system.
- They do not have adequate safety equipment.
Accidents in Airplane Crashes
The majority of flights reach their destination safely. However, sometimes a disastrous event occurs that results in a deadly airplane crash. The airline, the airplane manufacturer, or another third party may be held responsible when this happens. A Clearwater wrongful death attorney will gather evidence to help file a wrongful death claim.
Violent Criminal Acts
It is possible to sue someone for wrongful death in civil court while facing criminal charges for the same death. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the defendant is liable for financial compensation the court orders them to pay to the deceased person’s survivors. This is different than a criminal homicide case. A criminal conviction can result in prison time, fines paid to the state, probation, and other penalties.
How Does an Attorney Prove Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death happens when a person’s death could have been and should have been prevented. An attorney must be able to prove the following:
- The individual’s passing was a direct result of another person or entity’s negligence.
- The family member is suffering financial loss, pain and suffering, and/or loss of services due to the passing of their loved one.
What Factors Determine Negligence in a Wrongful Death Case?
To find a person or entity negligent in a wrongful death case, a lawyer must prove:
- A legal duty of care was owed to the deceased.
- The legal duty of care was breached.
- The person’s death was a direct result of the breach.
This may require a detailed investigation by your lawyer including, but not limited to:
- Reviewing accident reports and medical records
- Analyzing video surveillance
- Interviewing witnesses
- Obtaining safety or maintenance records and reports
- Recreating the accident scene with accident reconstruction specialists
Who Files the Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
Florida law requires a personal representative or executor of the deceased’s estate to file the wrongful death claim. Thus, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed on behalf of the decedent and their family members.
A complaint on behalf of all survivors means that immediate family members are eligible to be named in wrongful death suits. Family members typically entitled to damages include:
- The deceased’s spouse.
- The deceased’s children.
- Parents of the deceased.
- Blood relatives or adoptive siblings who received support or services from the deceased.
How Soon Should I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Florida, you usually have two years after the death of a loved one to file a wrongful death suit. However, the amount of time you have to file a wrongful death claim may depend on who you are suing. To ensure you don’t miss your opportunity to file a claim, you should consult a Clearwater wrongful death attorney as quickly as possible. The Fran Haasch Law Group has 20 years of experience with personal injury cases. We have the knowledge and understanding to help you make informed decisions.
What Losses Can Be Claimed?
Our Clearwater wrongful death attorneys understand the emotional and financial hardships that occur after losing a loved one. Therefore, we will help you receive compensation for the following types of damages under Florida Statue 768.21:
- Medical expenses—All medical bills associated with the accident should be included in the wrongful death lawsuit.
- Funeral expenses and burial costs—Each survivor may also recover any of the funeral expenses they paid.
- Loss of support and services—Each survivor may recover lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to their death. Survivors may also receive compensation for future loss of support and services. Support is lost contributions of property and money. Whereas services represent tasks, such as household duties routinely performed by the decedent, that will now be an expense to the survivors.
- Loss of future earnings—If the deceased brought income into the household, you might be entitled to compensation for their lost income and future wages.
- Lost parental companionship—Minor children under the age of 25 in Florida may be awarded damages for the lost benefits of the parental relationship, such as parental companionship, instruction, and guidance. How involved the parent was in the child’s life may significantly affect how much compensation minor children recover in the lawsuit.
- Mental pain and suffering—Emotional damages after a wrongful death can include loss of companionship and mental pain and suffering for a spouse. Emotional trauma is challenging to measure. Therefore, the jury may examine the relationship between the decedent and the surviving spouse to determine a value for mental pain and suffering.
- Future therapy expenses—If a family member chooses to go to grief counseling after the wrongful death of a loved one, the cost of the counseling should be compensated.
- Punitive damages—In some wrongful death cases, intentional, careless, and malicious conduct occurred. In these instances, family members might be awarded punitive damages. Punitive damages are implemented to punish someone for a particular behavior.
What if My Loved One Played a Part in the Accident?
In some cases, the victim may have contributed to the accident in some way. In Florida, even if your loved one was partially responsible for the accident, you are still entitled to compensation for your losses. Florida has a comparative negligence law that allows more than one party to be responsible for an accident. For example, suppose your loved one is found 15% responsible for the accident, then you will receive 15% less compensation. The other parties are still held accountable for their role in your loved one’s accident. Our experienced Clearwater attorneys can help you recover the total compensation you deserve.
The Fran Haasch Law Group Has the Experience to Help You
The loss of a loved one to an accident or neglect is a tragedy. Our Clearwater personal injury attorneys understand that surviving family members are grieving and treat you with compassion and care. We strive for an excellent attorney-client relationship. We want you to feel comfortable reaching out when you need us or have questions. We will also keep you informed of any updates and explain the details.
“The people at the firm were friendly, responsive, and when I needed something explained, they were thorough in their explanation.” —Paul Mondelli