When you have experienced the death of a loved one, it is undoubtedly one of the most stressful events you will ever deal with in your life. While this can be upsetting if occurring under normal circumstances, it can be even more devastating if your loved one’s death happens because of the carelessness or negligence of others. When this is the case, it’s imperative to seek the services of an attorney who has the knowledge and experience to objectively evaluate your situation. By doing so, you can get the information needed to help you decide if you have a wrongful death case. While many people tend to believe that any time their loved one dies while in the hospital or under a doctor’s care it is wrongful death, that is not always the case. To gain a better understanding of the specifics of wrongful death, here are some key aspects that will provide perspective as to whether you should or should not retain a wrongful death attorney.
What is Wrongful Death?
To know whether or not you will need the services of a wrongful death attorney, you first need to know what constitutes wrongful death in the eyes of the law. In most situations that occur in Florida, a death can be considered wrongful death if the person died due to the following circumstances:
- Intentional death, such as murder
- Medical Malpractice
- Auto accident brought about by negligence
While these are the most common situations where wrongful death happens, it’s conceivable that a variety of other situations can be construed as wrongful death. However, if a person dies due to injuries sustained while on the job, it is usually not considered wrongful death. Instead, these cases are almost always handled as workers’ compensation claims. Therefore, it’s always best to discuss the specifics of your situation with an attorney who has handled multiple wrongful death cases, so that you receive sound legal advice.
Statute of Limitations For Wrongful Death
Like virtually any other type of legal case, Florida law dictates that wrongful death cases be brought within a certain period of time. Under guidelines of the Florida Wrongful Death Act, wrongful death cases must be filed within two years from the date of the death. However, there are many exceptions to this rule, which is why you should always discuss your situation with an experienced wrongful death attorney. For example, if the wrongful death occurred in another state but the lawsuit is filed in Florida, the statute of limitations from the state where the death happened will apply to the case. In addition to this exception, there are also exceptions regarding wrongful deaths caused by medical malpractice. In these situations, the statute of limitations is two years from the time the incident was discovered or should have been discovered. However, it can still be filed no later than four years from the incident. Because of this, it’s crucial to never assume you have waited too long to file your claim, and you should always consult with a wrongful death attorney to find out what the statute of limitations would be for your lawsuit.
Wrongful Death Damages
If it’s determined you have a wrongful death case that should be pursued, you will have the opportunity to recover a variety of damages. These can include but are not limited to:
- Past, present, and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Funeral expenses
- Emotional suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of sexual relations with spouse
When attempting to place a monetary value on wrongful death damages, the process can sometimes prove to be difficult. While lost wages and medical expenses obviously have defined monetary values, emotional suffering and losses of companionship and other relations can be difficult to put a precise value on their worth. To do so, your attorney will often work with an economist, who will help ascertain the damages other families obtained in previous cases.
Don’t Go it Alone
When wrongful deaths occur, many families simply don’t known what to do next. Because of this, they often either fail to file a wrongful death lawsuit, or perhaps let an insurance company intimidate them into accepting a settlement that is far less than they deserve. Rather than let this happen to you and your family, always be willing to explore your legal options with a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney. By doing so, you’ll not only gain peace of mind, but begin the journey to receiving the full and fair compensation you and your family need to begin life anew.