Gainesville Wrongful Death Lawyer

The death of a loved one caused by expected circumstances, such as terminal illness, still leaves families stressed, sorrowful, and depressed. This challenging period is often characterized by grief, emotional distress, loss of household income, and the burden of medical expenses. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is already difficult enough, but finding out that the negligent actions of another party caused the death can be devastating.

Florida's wrongful death act allows surviving family members to seek compensation for their loss through a wrongful death lawsuit if a negligent party caused the death. At Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, we understand that compensation cannot undo the pain of losing a loved one. But it can help recover losses incurred by the wrongful death of a family member.

Wrongful death lawsuits also help hold negligent parties accountable for their actions, preventing similar acts in the future. If you have lost a loved one and suspect negligence, call us at (561) 800-8000 to evaluate your case.

What Is Wrongful Death in Florida

While the untimely passing of a loved one is always a tragedy, not every death is a case of wrongful death. Wrongful death happens when someone else's carelessness or wrongdoing results in the loss of another person's life. Examples include driving recklessly, assault, battery, manslaughter, and murder.

The criminal justice system is distinct from wrongful death lawsuits. In 1883, Florida passed a law establishing the right to financial compensation for the wrongful death of a person. As time has passed, the act's original intent to permit limited recovery in certain circumstances has given way to a considerably broader interpretation of the legislation.

According to local state law, statutory beneficiaries can file a wrongful death suit. The wrongful death provides survivors with a cause of action based on the underlying tort committed against the deceased person.

When someone else is at fault for another person's death, they may be sued in a "wrongful death" claim. The proof must be solid and unmistakable. Wrongful death lawsuits can only be filed if, had the deceased survived the injuries that ultimately led to their death, they would have had a chance to file a personal injury case.

A wrongful death case is similar to a personal injury lawsuit in that it involves a claim for damages on behalf of the deceased filed by a representative of the deceased person's estate. The following elements must be met for the estate of the deceased to have a valid wrongful death claim:

  • Loss of life
  • Death must be the result of another person's or entity's negligence
  • A member of the decedent's family must experience financial losses as a result of the death
  • An estate must be established, and a personal representative must be appointed under Florida law

An individual's death is an easy fact to establish. Once the deceased has been positively identified, there is usually no room for debate. Proving negligence might be more complicated, however. Below are the three requirements that plaintiffs must prove to demonstrate negligence:

  1. The defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty of care
  2. That duty owed was breached
  3. The defendant's breach caused injury to the decedent

The injured party would generally have to prove financial losses due to the incident to succeed in a negligence lawsuit. However, wrongful death lawsuits require the deceased's family to suffer losses before filing suit. Consult a Gainesville wrongful death lawyer for more guidance on your unique case.

Common Types of Wrongful Death Accidents

Surviving family members might file a wrongful death action if a loved one sustained fatal injuries in different accidents, such as:

Automobile Accidents

Severe traffic accidents pose a significant threat of death to drivers and passengers of cars, motorcycles, and trucks. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports over 3,000 fatalities on Florida's roadways.

Car accidents can happen for various reasons, and many are avoidable. In case of a fatal crash caused by a motorist's negligence, such as breaking traffic laws, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or acting recklessly in another reckless way, the driver may be held liable for the resulting damages in a wrongful death claim. Distracted driving is another top cause of traffic accidents in Florida and the United States.

To help protect their legal rights, families of wrongful death victims in Gainesville should consult with an experienced attorney in their area.

Pedestrian and Biking Accidents

According to the FLHSMV, hundreds of pedestrians and bikers lose their lives in Florida annually. Those walking on foot or cycling lack the protection of an automobile in case of an accident with a careless motorist.

If victims survive horrific accidents, pedestrians and cyclists may have to deal with the long-term consequences of their wounds. Most fatal accidents involve motor vehicles, and pedestrians may lose their lives if darting into traffic.

Vehicle operators have an elevated duty of care to pedestrians and cyclists. Florida traffic laws state that pedestrians and cyclists usually have the right of way in most cases. Negligent drivers that cause the death of pedestrians or motorists may be liable for damages in wrongful death suits.

Boat Accidents

With hundreds of miles of coastline, rivers, and canals, the Sunshine State is a hot spot for boating accidents in the U.S. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) of Florida tracks and documents boating mishaps, reporting approximately 65 deaths from boating accidents in Florida in recent years.

The most common cause of death is drowning, but accidents involving other boats or stationary objects, water damage, and capsizes also occur often. The following are the most frequently reported causes of death by the FWC:

  • Lack of attention
  • Weather
  • Excessive speed
  • Reckless operation
  • Intoxication of alcohol or drugs
  • Lack of experience operating a watercraft
  • Overloading
  • Improper anchorage

Boat owners or operators whose negligence or mistakes lead to the death of a loved one may be liable for damages in a wrongful death suit.

Medical Malpractice

Medical negligence deaths may have more devastating effects on families than other fatal incidents. We have faith in hospitals, physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals to help us identify and treat any health issues we may have. When a doctor is responsible for a patient's death, it shatters our assumptions about doctors and medicine.

Medical malpractice includes a wide range of negligent behaviors that might result in wrongful death litigation if they cause injuries to a patient. Medical negligence includes inaccurate or delayed diagnosis, unnecessary surgery, surgical errors, and inadequate follow-up care following treatment.

Medication errors, such as the incorrect dosage or administration of the incorrect medication, are another common cause of patient deaths at the hands of medical practitioners. In most medical malpractice cases, there is often shared responsibility between the hospital and the doctor or other medical staff member who may have caused the patient harm.

Workplace Accidents

Since most people spend at least a third of their day working, it's no surprise that many wrongful deaths in Florida occur in the workplace. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) reports approximately 300 workplace fatalities annually. Fatal accidents can happen for many reasons, such as unsafe working conditions, careless coworkers, and broken machinery.

According to OSHA, workplace fatalities may happen because of the following:

  • Transportation accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Exposure to harmful substances
  • Workplace violence
  • Contact with dangerous equipment
  • Fires and explosions

When workers die on the job, it is recommended that their loved ones hire a wrongful death lawyer familiar with workers' compensation law. Wrongful death lawsuits are complex cases because many parties are often involved, including employers, landlords, contractors, and more.

Slip and Fall Accidents

Although slip and fall accidents can usually cause minor injuries, seniors are at a high risk of sustaining fatal injuries after a slip and fall. Because of the high number of older people living in Florida, wrongful death suits resulting from falls are common. Statistics from the Florida Department of Health suggest that residents older than 65 account for more than 80% of fatalities caused by slip and fall accidents in Florida.

A slip and fall can cause serious injuries, including broken bones, dislocated joints, and even death, especially for the elderly. In most fatalities following a fall, brain damage is the culprit. The severity of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) sustained from a fall to the ground can be so great that a senior citizen may not survive the accident.

Visitors are entitled to a reasonably safe environment on private property, and owners have a legal responsibility to provide that. Wet or dry spills of liquids, foods, sand, or cleaning chemicals like wax, can cause slips and falls.

Swimming Pools Accidents

With the year-round weather in Florida, swimming is popular in the Sunshine State. Those who live in Florida but don't own a private pool may visit a neighbor, friend, or public facility. Although accidental drownings of young children are more common than fatalities caused by a slip and fall around pools, the former may be just as serious.

Property owners must keep swimming pool areas in good condition to prevent the needless suffering and death of others. Careless behavior that could result in a tragic swimming pool accident can include a lack of:

  • Appropriate fencing
  • Adult supervision for children
  • Pool filters or drainage
  • Safety equipment
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?

According to Florida law, surviving family members can file a wrongful death suit against a liable party or parties if their deceased loved one would have been entitled to recover damages in a personal injury suit had they lived.

However, you should take legal action within the two-year statute of limitations. If you fail to initiate legal action within two years of the decedent's date of death, you might lose the right to sue in court under Florida law.

Florida wrongful death cases must be filed by the deceased person's representative or the decedent's estate. The family member who is eligible for a Florida wrongful death claim include:

  • Surviving spouses
  • The deceased adult children in case there is no surviving spouse
  • The deceased dependents, including minor children, adopted children, and other blood relatives
  • Parents of minor children
  • Parents of adult children if there are no other survivors
Damages for Wrongful Death in Florida

If your family member was killed due to the carelessness of another person or business, you might be eligible to receive compensation under the wrongful death act. This compensation may include general, non-economic, and punitive damages.

Economic or General Damages

Economic damages are losses with a definite dollar value, such as:

  1. Medical Expenses
  2. If your loved one required medical attention before passing away in the accident, you might have to pay for that care out of pocket. Costs incurred while attempting to save a loved one's life may include sending an ambulance or life flight, visiting an emergency room, or undergoing surgery.

  3. Lost Wages
  4. The death of a loved one can create significant financial hardship for many families. Sometimes the person who passed away was the sole provider for their family. If your loved one's death has caused a loss of income for you, then you may be eligible for financial compensation.

  5. Funeral and Burial Expenses
  6. You may qualify for help paying for a funeral and burial, including all costs associated with these expenses.

    It is crucial that you keep records of all financial expenses incurred due to the loss of a loved one for your attorney to review. Your attorney can use those documents to determine how much you should seek in your claim.

Non-Economic Damages

Courts may also award damages for intangible losses or unquantifiable ones with a dollar value. Examples of non-monetary losses could be:

  1. Pain and Suffering
  2. The unexpected death can put a person's finances in shambles, but the emotional toll can be just as devastating. Emotional issues such as anxiety and depression are possible reactions to the trauma of a sudden loss of a loved one. Pain and suffering damages may be available.

  3. Loss of Companionship
  4. The deceased person's spouse or children suffer a loss of companionship after death, and they can seek monetary compensation.

  5. Loss of Parental Guidance
  6. Courts may award damages for the loss of parental guidance to minor children who lose both parents.

  7. Loss of Consortium
  8. You might be eligible for supplemental damages for loss of consortium if the death deprived you of the chance of consortium.

    Our seasoned wrongful death lawyers have the skills to determine the appropriate amount of non-economic damages to advise you on pursuing.

Punitive Damages

You might be eligible for punitive damages under Florida Statute 768.72 if the wrongful death was caused by the defendant's gross negligence or willful acts or omissions. The law defines intentional misconduct as conduct in which the offender acts or fails to act while knowing that doing so will result in bodily harm or death.

Gross negligence refers to situations in which the defendant acted or failed to act with excessive recklessness, endangering the plaintiff's health, life, or rights. Occasionally, the court may decide to award the plaintiff punitive damages to punish and discourage the defendant from similar actions.

Punitive damages may be awarded where the defendant is a company or other legal entity, and its conduct rises to the level of gross negligence, as well as when the entity actively and knowingly participated in the actions that led to the injury or death.

Benefits of Hiring Our Gainesville Wrongful Death Lawyers

Our firm is dedicated to helping victims and their families seek compensation for their losses. We have experience handling wrongful death claims and litigation. When someone close to you dies unexpectedly, our Gainesville wrongful death attorneys will guide you on your next steps to take (by appointment only).

When choosing a Gainesville wrongful attorney, ensure they have extensive experience litigating these types of cases. Our passionate lawyers will confidently pursue wrongful death cases and see your case through trial if necessary. Call us at (561) 800-8000 to schedule a free consultation.

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