Everything you need to know about wrongful death lawsuits and settlements
Decide if filing this type of suit is the right choice for you
Losing a loved one is always devastating, but it is particularly painful to lose them in a preventable accident. Not only do you have to cope with grief, but if you relied on the deceased for monetary provision, you also have to face fiscal difficulty.
If you file a wrongful death lawsuit, you may be able to recover significant damages from the negligent party that can ease the financial burden, allowing you to focus on healing and moving forward.
What is a wrongful death lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits are personal injury suits that are brought against the negligent party that caused someone’s death. If a victim who would have had a personal injury claim had they lived dies as a result of someone’s intentional action or carelessness, that is cause for a wrongful death suit.
In order to prove liability, the plaintiff(s) must prove that the defendant owed the victim a standard of care or reasonable action which was not met by the defendant. They must also prove that the defendant’s violation of duty directly caused the victim’s death, and that the damages being sought are the result of the death.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits need to be filed by a representative of the person(s) who have been impacted financially by the loss. This representative may be an executor of the estate of the deceased. Florida law requires the personal representative to be named in the victim’s will or estate plan. The “real parties in interest” (the affected parties) may be immediate family members (spouses, children, parents, etc.) or any blood relative or adoptive sibling who is “partially or wholly dependent on the deceased for support or services”. In other states more parties may have access to wrongful death lawsuits.
Who can be sued?
Multiple parties may be sued in a wrongful death case. People can be sued, but so can companies and government entities as long as state jurisdiction does not grant them immunity from wrongful death action (Florida law does not).
For example, if a car accident that resulted in a fatality involved potholes, a drunk driver, and a faulty airbag, it would be possible for a wrongful death suit to be filed against the drunk driver, the establishment that served them the alcohol, the contractor or government agency responsible for maintaining the road, the car manufacturer, and the airbag distributor.
What factors affect a wrongful death settlement?
It is difficult to quantify the value of a human life. Wrongful death settlements vary widely due to the nature of the case. However, there are some universal factors that influence how much the real parties in interest can expect to recover.
- Younger, healthier victims are more likely to see a higher settlement because they would have been expected to live longer.
- Victims with higher earning capacities and a higher educational level are more likely to see a higher settlement amount.
- Victims with young dependents are more likely to see a higher settlement amount than single people with no dependents, or adult children.
- The amount of medical bills, funeral costs, and benefit values (like health insurance, pension, etc.) will affect how large the settlement is.
- Whether or not the case goes to trial or is settled by an insurance company influences the settlement amount. Insurance companies may settle for less, unless negligence is not easy to prove in court, where the case could be completely dismissed.
There may be other factors influencing your specific case. There is usually a limit to what insurance companies’ liability policies will pay out, so it is important to discuss you case with an experienced wrongful death attorney, who will be able to consult economists and financial professionals and ascertain an appropriate settlement amount.
How long following a car accident do you have to sue for wrongful death?
The statute of limitations regarding car accident wrongful death claims varies by state, but is generally between one to three years. In Florida, it must be filed within two years of the date of death.
A qualified personal injury attorney who specializes in wrongful death claims can help answer any questions you may have regarding a potential lawsuit. Because it is necessary to prove negligence in a wrongful death suit, you need a lawyer with a winning reputation who has extensive experience litigating cases and advocating for victims’ families.
The Florida Law Group has earned national recognition for our ability to get verdicts for our clients. We know how difficult the loss of a loved one can be, so we handle everything about the claims process and guide you every step of the way. We help you understand all of your legal options. Our elite attorneys belong to associations like the Best Lawyers in America®, Super Lawyers® Rising Stars℠, The National Trial Lawyers Top 100, the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum®, and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel. We have been featured on 20/20, 48 Hours, ABC, CBS, The New York Times, The Tampa Bay Times, and The Wall Street Journal.
If you’ve lost a loved one in a tragic car accident due to someone else’s mistake, let us help you hold them responsible in court. The Florida Law Group will fight for you and win maximum compensation! We proudly offer all of our services on a contingency fee basis, meaning you do not pay us for services unless we secure a settlement. Contact us to set up a free case evaluation!