Wrongful Death Attorney in Florida
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As wrongful death attorneys practicing in the State of Florida, we at Sawan & Sawan understand that losing a loved one due to another’s negligence is one of the most tragic injuries that our clients face. We wake up each and every day with the victims of these actions in mind. When a family member or close companion has had their lives cut short because of the irresponsibility of someone else, there simply is no adequate remedy. While there is a legal process in Florida designed to compensate certain people, a legal and financial recovery is only a small and inadequate attempt to bring closure to the loss. While it certainly doesn’t mitigate the devastation of the loss, we still strongly advise you to speak with a wrongful death attorney to evaluate your case.
It’s important to hold any party that causes harm or death to another fully and completely responsible. Even if a wrongful death suit can’t bring a loved one back, it can help to memorialize a life and ensure that others are put on notice of the consequences of careless actions. If you or a loved one have been involved in a personal injury accident in Florida, call Sawan & Sawan today at 813-445-5333 to schedule a free, no-risk consultation.
Florida's Wrongful Death Statute
“When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters, and the event would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued, the person or watercraft that would have been liable in damages if death had not ensued shall be liable for damages as specified in this act notwithstanding the death of the person injured, although death was caused under circumstances constituting a felony.”
Under this section of Florida law, if it can be established that someone’s death was caused by an included action by another, liability continues beyond that person’s death if they themselves could have brought the same or similar action for their injuries had they survived. These types of legal claims are known as wrongful death claims.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Suit?
As is the case in many other States, for wrongful death actions in Florida, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate is the appropriate party to actually bring the wrongful death lawsuit itself. Under the Statutes, however, there are other parties that may be interested in this type of case. In certain instances, there can be compensation awarded through the personal representative’s case for these surviving loved ones. It is true that Florida recognizes wrongful death claims but other components of Florida law impose some limitations. It is important to have a Florida wrongful death lawyer evaluate your potential claims in this context.
The Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations Florida
A statute of limitations is a law passed usually in each individual State. These laws establish time frames during which lawsuits must be brought. The policy behind these types of statutes is that the legal system generally does not want people subject to lawsuits in perpetuity. The legal system attempts to encourage individuals with potential lawsuits to file those lawsuits with enough proximity to the event to balance a reasonable period of time to understand legal options and rights but not expose others to litigation in perpetuity. There is a law like this in the State of Florida that governs the time period during which a wrongful death claim must be brought. The Florida wrongful death statute of limitations is found in Section 95.11 and provides 2 years to file an action for wrongful death. You should know that analyzing the Statute of limitations is very complicated and it is best to leave this type of legal consideration to your attorney.
What Type of Damages are Available in Wrongful Death Actions in Florida?
Look, the fact is, no amount of money will ever suffice to bring a loved one back after a wrongful death in Florida. In many ways, monetary damages are a poor consolation for such a devastating loss. However, while the law can only do so much, in Florida, its’ intent is to “shift the losses resulting when wrongful death occurs from the survivors of the decedent to the wrongdoer.” In Florida, there are a variety of categories that by claimed under the law. The damage categories for wrongful death in Florida are contained in Florida Statute 768.21. This statute permits for the following recoverable damages after a wrongful death:
- Lost Support and Services. When a loved one passes from an untimely wrongful death, families and loved ones frequently lose support – both emotionally and financially. Florida law permits this to be recovered, with interest. In evaluating the value of the loss of support, Florida law instructs that the inquiry consider the following factors: ” In evaluating loss of support and services, the survivor’s relationship to the decedent, the amount of the decedent’s probable net income available for distribution to the particular survivor, and the replacement value of the decedent’s services to the survivor may be considered. In computing the duration of future losses, the joint life expectancies of the survivor and the decedent and the period of minority, in the case of healthy minor children, may be considered.”
- As defined in Florida Statute §768.18: “Services” means tasks, usually of a household nature, regularly performed by the decedent that will be a necessary expense to the survivors of the decedent. These services may vary according to the identity of the decedent and survivor and shall be determined under the particular facts of each case.
- Companionship and Protection. Florida law rightfully recognizes that a surviving spouse of a wrongful death decedent loses much more than just financial support. As a result, the law permits for a surviving spouse to recover the value of the decedent’s companionship and protection and mental pain and suffering from the date of the injury. This are of valuation can be extremely emotional, as the inevitable tug and pull of valuing someone’s suffering can be jarring. Insurance companies will often go out of their way to minimize the pain and emotional trauma a victim suffers. Having an advocate on your side can help immensely with this painful process.
- Minor Children. Tragically, in many instances of wrongful death, the deceased leaves behind minor children. The law in Florida not only recognizes this sad reality, but provides for damages in these instances. The law permits for wrongful death damages that include: loss of parental companionship, instruction, and guidance and for the mental and emotional pain they suffer from the date of the accident. As with the damages related the to surviving spouse, valuation of these damages can be extremely sensitive. It is wise to have a qualified Florida death Attorney negotiate on your behalf to avoid further trauma or re-victimization after a wrongful death.
- Medical and Funeral Expenses. Often times, prior to passing, a wrongful death victim will suffer from a protracted period of medical treatment. Moreover, funeral expenses can mount quickly. Thus, the law permits for recovery of these categories of damages. Getting a handle on the scope of medical bills and funeral expenses can be daunting, but a skilled Florida wrongful death attorney can help you gather the necessary evidence.
- Estate Recovery. The estate of a deceased individual may also sustain damages under Florida law that may be compensable after a wrongful death – especially if there is no surviving spouse or minor children. In this scenario, the law permits a decedent’s personal representative to recover the following to the decedents estate:
- Loss of earnings of the deceased from the date of injury to the date of death, less lost support of survivors excluding contributions in kind, with interest.
- Loss of the prospective net accumulations of an estate, which might reasonably have been expected but for the wrongful death, reduced to present money value.
- Medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent’s injury or death that have become a charge against her or his estate or that were paid by or on behalf of decedent.
Dennis E. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Florida
Dennis P. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Georgia
Christopher A. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Michigan
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