Attorneys Fighting for Victims' Loved Ones in West Palm Beach
In Florida, a wrongful death claim can be pursued when someone's death is caused by the negligence of another individual or multiple parties. Under the state's Wrongful Death Act, the deceased person's personal representative is the only permitted party who can file a claim. If the will or estate plan did not specify a personal representative, the court will appoint one. The personal representative pursues the claim to recover damages for the benefit of the deceased's survivors. Legally, survivors automatically include the deceased's:
- Children born in wedlock
In certain circumstances, others could also receive benefits of survivorship:
- Any blood relative who, at least, partly depended upon the deceased for services or support
- An adoptive sibling who depended on the deceased in part, at least, for support or services
- The child of unmarried parents, if the person who died was the mother
- The child of unmarried parents, if the deceased person was the father and he had recognized the child as his own and was obligated to contribute to the child's support
What Must Your Lawyer Prove in Court?
The plaintiff's injury wrongful death attorneys must prove that the defendant was negligent. This requires establishing that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased, the defendant violated that duty and that violation caused the death. For example, in the case of a hypothetical truck accident, the plaintiff's attorney must show that the defendant's duty of care was to drive responsibly and follow the rules of the road. It then must be demonstrated that this duty was breached when the defendant drove while intoxicated and failed to stop at an intersection. Finally, the claim must illustrate how the defendant's failure caused his vehicle to collide with the plaintiff's vehicle, resulting in fatal injuries.
How Much Can Be Awarded in Damages?
In West Palm Beach and Jupiter, the particular circumstances of the wrongful death itself, the nature of the relationships between the deceased and the survivors, and the identity of the survivors determine the extent of allowable damages that can be awarded, within the parameters outlined in the law. Possible monetary awards include compensation for:
- Mental pain and suffering
- Medical expenses related to the injury that led to death
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of companionship and protection
- The value of lost support and services provided by the deceased
- The value of lost earnings for the time between injury and death
- Prospective net accumulations from business income, salary earnings and other revenue sources that likely would have been left as inheritance
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Suit?
In Florida, the statutes of limitations – or deadline – for filing a wrongful death claim is four years from the date of death, in most cases. Some exceptions are permitted, but time is of the essence. Don't risk losing critical evidence or witnesses. Contact a West Palm Beach wrongful death law firm as soon as possible after an accident to ensure that your full story is told, and to greatly increase the chances of a favorable settlement.