Melbourne Wrongful Death Lawyer
The loss of a loved one is never easy. And when that death is the result of a negligent act by another person or company, that grief often manifests itself as anger. Families feel rightfully upset that someone else’s recklessness or carelessness led to an unnecessary death.
Florida law provides a legal remedy for these families in the form of a wrongful death action. This is a special type of personal injury claim designed to compensate the survivors of an accident that killed an immediate family member. At the Pendas Law Firm, our qualified Melbourne wrongful death lawyers can advise you on the necessary steps to bring a successful claim and, hopefully, help bring some sense of justice to your family.
Florida’s Wrongful Death Act
Wrongful death lawsuits are based on state law, specifically the Florida Wrongful Death Act. The Act creates a civil tort claim for any death caused by the “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person.” This includes not only accidental deaths caused by negligence but also intentional acts such as murder or manslaughter.
The personal representative of the victim’s estate is entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the victim’s spouse, children, and parents, as well as any blood relatives or adoptive siblings who were financially dependent on the victim. Damages in a wrongful death claim may include the following forms of compensation for these survivors:
- loss of financial support and services;
- the surviving spouse’s lost companionship and their pain and suffering;
- any surviving minor children’s loss of parental companionship, instruction, guidance, and their pain and suffering;
- the pain and suffering of the victim’s surviving parents;
- reimbursement of any medical or funeral expenses for the victim paid by the family.
Additionally, the personal representative may seek to recover certain damages on behalf of the estate itself, including any medical or funeral expenses paid on the victim’s behalf and any lost earnings from the date of the victim’s injury until his death.
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It is important to note that since wrongful death claims are a matter of civil law, the estate need only prove the defendant’s responsibility by a “preponderance of the evidence,” as opposed to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal cases. In other words, even if a defendant is never charged or convicted of a crime in connection with the victim’s death, the estate and the family are still free to pursue–and win–a wrongful death action.
But there are time limits to bring a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations is normally 4 years in Florida. While that may sound like a lot of time, wrongful death claims often require an extensive amount of preliminary investigation–and possible settlement talks–before a formal lawsuit is filed. So it is important not to delay. If you believe that the loss of your loved one was the result of a negligent or intentional act, contact the Melbourne wrongful death lawyers at the Pendas Law Firm today to schedule an initial consultation.