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Losing a loved one due to a wrongful death accident can be one of the hardest things anyone can endure. There is nothing more emotionally devastating than the sudden, unanticipated death of a family member. Our experienced wrongful death attorneys in Tampa are available to speak with you today. No one should have to experience the emptiness, loneliness, and intense grief that occurs as a consequence of a wrongful death accident.
However, if you believe your loved one’s death was due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or carelessness, it is crucial to take legal action right away. Experts depend on factual data and you will want to begin the legal process as soon as possible. At Vanguard Attorneys, our Tampa wrongful death lawyers have the skills needed to fight for the rights of you and your family. Because these types of cases are time sensitive, it is imperative that you contact our legal team right away.
To discuss your case, call our Tampa wrongful death lawyers today! We are ready to put our experience on your side.
Why Choose Our Wrongful Death Attorneys
- Our attorneys hold over 90 years of combined legal experience representing personal injury and wrongful death victims. We have the skills and knowledge necessary to advocate for your maximum award.
- We take all cases on a contingency fee basis to limit your out-of-pocket commitment. If we do not secure a financial award on your behalf, you will not be charged any legal fees.
- We are a small boutique firm with strong ties to the Tampa community. We will leverage our resources and relationships to strengthen your claim and secure the settlement that you deserve.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
If you are injured due to another person’s negligence, you can typically file a personal injury lawsuit against him or her in Florida civil court. Under Florida law, the family members of deceased individuals can pursue a wrongful death claim if a person dies as a result of a personal injury.
According to Florida Statutes 768.19, a wrongful death occurs when someone dies as a result of a wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty. Many incidents can result in a wrongful death, including accidents, defective product injuries, and intentional acts, including crimes.
Understanding the Statute of Limitations
In the state of Florida, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years from the date of the individual’s death. Failure to file the claim in an adequate amount of time can limit your family’s chance of obtaining financial compensation. This is because after this amount of time, the courts no longer possess the jurisdiction to penalize violators and offer monetary compensation to victims. There are very few exemptions to the statute of limitations.
While this rule may seem limiting, the statute of limitations plays several important roles in the wrongful death litigation process. By requiring plaintiffs to file within a certain time frame, the court ensures that witness memories remain fresh and evidence is still relevant and well preserved. Additionally, this deadline protects citizens from the ever-present threat of litigation.
Failure to comply with the statute of limitations could prevent your family from seeking justice for your loved one. To protect your legal rights, speak to an attorney as soon as possible following your loved one’s death. Your lawyer can identify your appropriate filing deadline and help your family take your first steps toward pursuing a legal claim.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death in Florida
Wrongful death can occur due to a variety of negligent actions and intentional violence. In some cases, people die as a result of crimes such as assault. In other cases, unexpected accidents or professional negligence lead to severe, ultimately fatal injuries.
Common causes of wrongful death accidents include, but aren’t limited to:
- Motor vehicle crashes
- Motorcycle accidents
- Tractor-trailer accidents
- Medical malpractice
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
Only certain individuals may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased person. These filing requirements vary from state to state. In many places, the family members of a deceased individual can bring this claim.
In Florida, state law requires that the personal representative or executor of the deceased’s estate may file a wrongful death claim. However, this representative is acting on behalf of the deceased’s estate and any surviving family members that may benefit from the claim.
The personal representative is typically named in a will or estate plan. If the deceased did not name a personal representative before his or her death, the court will name one on his or her behalf.
To qualify as a personal representative, an individual must either be a Florida resident or a family member of the deceased. In some cases, a bank or trust company can be a personal representative, subject to certain restrictions.
Can You File a Wrongful Death Claim?
From a legal standpoint, a wrongful death claim should meet the following criteria:
- Another person’s conduct caused, or contributed to, the death of the loved one
- The other person was negligent or strictly liable for the loved one’s death
- The loved one leaves behind surviving beneficiaries or dependents
- Monetary losses have resulted from the loved one’s death
Our team works with investigators and forensic pathologists to explain what occurred at the time of the accident. While we understand the time following a wrongful death accident can be hard, we ask that you consider having a relative or trusted friend contact our legal team. It would be our honor as your Tampa personal injury law firm, to help and guide you and your family during this trying time. With 90 years of combined experience, we are the kind of reputable law firm you need on your side.
To discuss your case, get in touch with our Tampa wrongful death lawyers at Vanguard Attorneys today!
Compensation Available in Florida Wrongful Death Claims
The goal of a wrongful death claim is to recover compensatory damages on behalf of the deceased’s family members. If your family’s claim is successful, the defendant will need to pay a settlement for the losses that the deceased person and your family suffered.
There are two categories of damages in Florida wrongful death claims: damages awarded to the deceased person’s family, and damages awarded to the deceased person’s estate. Examples of compensation paid to the estate include the following.
- Medical and funeral expenses paid for by the estate
- Lost wages, benefits, and earnings that the deceased incurred from the date of his or her injury and the date of his or her death
- The value of future earnings and benefits that the deceased would have earned if he or she had survived
Examples of compensation available to the family include the following.
- Loss of support and services from the deceased person to family members
- Loss of the deceased person’s companionship and protection
- Loss of companionship, instruction, and guidance
- Medical and funeral expenses that a surviving family member pays for
- Emotional pain and suffering
A lawyer from Vanguard Attorneys can help you and your family identify all potential avenues to compensation. Using this information, he or she will calculate your estimated settlement and help your family achieve maximum compensation.
Proving a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida
Proving a Florida wrongful death lawsuit is similar to providing a personal injury claim. In these cases, you will need to establish that the defendant’s wrongful actions caused your loved one’s death. There are three important facts that are critical to these types of lawsuits.
- Duty of Care: The defendant owed your loved one a certain duty of care at the time of the incident. This duty will depend on who the defendant is and the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s accident.
- Breach of Duty: The defendant breached his or her duty of care through a wrongful act or failure to act. For example, drivers who speed through school zones breach their duties of care, as do property owners who allow their premises to fall into disrepair.
- Causation: The defendant’s actions caused your loved one’s final injuries and resulting death. You must prove that the death would not have occurred if not for the negligence of the defendant.
While these elements may seem simple enough, there are many factors that can complicate a wrongful death claim. Unclear liability, conflicting witness statements, and strong opposition from the defendant are some examples.
In these situations, your lawyer from Vanguard Attorneys will handle all aspects of your case. He or she will work closely with you and your family to gather the necessary evidence and establish your loved one’s right to justice. Your attorney can craft a compelling case in your family’s favor and defend your loved one against accusations of shared fault.
Can You Pursue a Criminal Case and a Wrongful Death Claim?
Many wrongful deaths occur as a result of a crime, such as assault or a violent burglary. You may wonder if you could pursue a wrongful death lawsuit at the same time as criminal charges. The answer is yes.
The purpose of criminal charges is to punish a perpetrator for illegal acts by assigning jail time and other penalties. However, the victim and his or her family receive little support aside from possible restitution. Unlike a criminal case, a wrongful death lawsuit is meant to compensate the victim for the losses that he or she experienced.
A wrongful death claim and a criminal case involve two separate processes with different outcomes. As a result, you can pursue both cases at the same time on behalf of a deceased loved one.
Is a Wrongful Death Claim the Same as a Survival Action?
Wrongful death claims and survival actions are two different legal claims that are commonly confused with one another. While wrongful death lawsuits are filed after a person dies, survival actions are extensions of existing legal claims.
In Florida, injured parties have the right to pursue compensation after someone else’s wrongful actions cause harm to them. If a person files a personal injury lawsuit and later dies from his or her injuries, surviving family members can pursue a survival action.
The purpose of a survival action is to compensate the deceased’s family members for the damages that he or she would have received if the claim reached a settlement. Through a survival action, family members can recover compensatory damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and the pain and suffering that their loved one experienced.
Unlike wrongful death claims, survival actions compensate surviving family members for the damages that the loved one could have received. Family members are unable to recover compensation for the pain and suffering that they experienced.
Benefits of Hiring a Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney
Navigating a wrongful death claim can be difficult, especially while grieving the loss of a loved one. In these situations, you need as much support as possible to navigate your claim and secure the outcome that your family deserves. If you plan on pursuing a wrongful death claim, hiring an attorney can help.
A Tampa wrongful death lawyer from Vanguard Attorneys can provide several important benefits to your case, including the following.
- A wrongful death attorney will understand the legal process and the requirements necessary to file your claim. Your attorney will guide you through each step of the process and help you avoid preventable errors that could otherwise delay your case.
- A wrongful death lawyer can help you determine the value of your claim. Your attorney will be able to calculate your potential settlement and identify all potential avenues to compensation. Using this information, he or she will advocate for your highest possible award.
- Although many wrongful death claims settle during negotiations, an attorney can take your case to trial if necessary. Your wrongful death lawyer from Vanguard Attorneys will prepare your case for litigation and will not hesitate to escalate your claim in order to secure the compensation that you deserve.
- The laws surrounding wrongful death can be complex. Your attorney will understand these complexities and the requirements necessary to establish your right to compensation, crafting a compelling case in your favor.
- Your claim may require significant resources to prove. Your lawyer will have the time to launch a full investigation into your accident and gather the evidence necessary to prove your case.
How Comparative Negligence Could Affect a Wrongful Death Case
Liability can be complex in wrongful death cases. When it is difficult to tell who is at fault, the defendant will try and shift the blame onto the deceased person. The at-fault party may claim that the deceased’s actions contributed to the accident and therefore he or she is not liable for the damages that the family sustained.
If the court accepts this shared liability, Florida’s pure comparative negligence laws will apply. Under this rule, the court will reduce the final settlement by the percentage of liability that the deceased shares. The family can recover compensation even if the court finds the deceased to be 99% responsible for the incident.
For example, say that someone dies in a car accident after another driver changes lanes without warning. The defendant argues that the deceased was texting and driving at the time of the accident and is therefore partially liable.
The court accepts this argument and determines that the deceased is 20% responsible for the collision. If the family seeks a $100,000 settlement, they will receive $80,000 in compensation at the conclusion of the claim.
How Long Does It Take to Reach a Settlement in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death lawsuits follow a series of important steps to reach settlement. Some lawsuits conclude within a few months because the parties settle before going to trial during negotiations. If a lawsuit proceeds to trial, the case can take a year or even longer to reach a conclusion.
It can be tempting to accept an early settlement in order to avoid lengthy litigation. However, an initial offer may be insufficient to meet your family’s needs and those of the estate, which could lead to financial hardships later on. Before taking any action regarding your loved one’s case, consult with a Tampa wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.
By working with a Tampa wrongful death lawyer, you can strategize ways to support your family’s right to the highest possible settlement. Your lawyer can represent your family during negotiations, advocating for your best interests and evaluating any potential offers to ensure that they are sufficient.
Schedule Your Free Consultation Today With Our Wrongful Death Attorneys
If you lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person, the lawyers at Vanguard Attorneys can help. Our firm will work closely with you and your family to secure the settlement that you deserve. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with a Tampa wrongful death attorney.