Step-by-Step Guide by Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney
Information from a Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney
Here is some advice from a wrongful death attorney about victims and their rights
Wrongful death refers to a claim in which the victim was killed as a result of the negligence, or negligent conduct of another. A Tampa wrongful death attorney brings lawsuits brought against a person who negligently, recklessly or purposefully caused, in whole or in part the death of another person.
The claim may also be brought against the employer, company or agent of whoever caused the death. Wrongful death claims arise as a result of auto accidents, personal injury accidents, medical malpractice, construction site accidents, dangerous or defective products, or failure to provide adequate security, or drugs, or other accidents, negligence or injuries.
Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney
The loss of a loved one is a devastating and tragic event that no one should experience. Especially when the death is caused by the needless fault of another. Losing a family member can be both emotionally and financially difficult. By knowing your rights and understanding the process of wrongful death claims, I hope to help you and your family with the stress and hardships you may be facing. My name is Matt Powell. I’m a Tampa wrongful death attorney who is Board Certified by the Florida Bar as a Civil Trial Lawyer. I’ve created this six-part video series to help explain some of the legal intricacies about wrongful death claims. This first video explains the questions about the purpose of the law, who can bring a claim, who is entitled to compensation, what are the general types of losses that can be sought as damages, and the time limits to file a lawsuit to recover these losses. In the videos that follow this one, I will explain more about specific types of claims and damages in wrongful death law suits, such as how the death of a loved on impacts the family, how the losses are measured, and how we prove these losses in court.
Wrongful Death Claims Part 1: The Basic Laws
Economic and Financial Damages
The loss of the family wage-earner can cause great hardship. This video goes into greater detail about the various elements of economic and financial damages that are allowed under Florida law for a wrongful death claim. These types of damages can be measured with the help of experts such as accountants and economists. One of the first and most basic economic losses is the loss of support and services. Loss of support talks about earnings that the decedent would have earned up until the time of their death and future lost wages. Services are things that people do for their family, but are not paid for doing them, such as chores around the house and spending time with children. Experts are used determine the extent of any lost services and calculate a dollar figure of the services that were provided to the family by the decedent. Decedents with stable lifestyles receive a higher value on the services they provided than a decedent with an unstable lifestyle, such as having a drug addiction. Watch this video to learn more about the details of what you are entitled to in a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful Death Claims Part 2: Elements of Damage
The types of economic and financial damages that can be compensated for in a wrongful death claim in Florida.
Understanding and Coping with Emotional Impacts
What is it about wrongful death that makes it so heavy, disturbing, and shocking? Why is the death of a loved one so complicated and difficult for us to deal with? When a death is sudden, unexpected, traumatic, preventable, and caused by a human wrong-doer, the intensity, duration, and the processing of the grief is unique and not normal. A wrongful death is an unnatural end to a life. The life was prevented from living its natural course. When a life is wrongfully taken from us, we and our family go through a totally unnatural change in our lives. As survivors, we experience grief in a totally different way than we would feel from a natural death. A natural death is like when a grandparent dies of old-age who lived a long life. We have time to deal with the impending loss, resolve any issues, have time to prepare, and understand the death. We have time to emotionally prepare for the death. A wrongful death is much different because no one is prepared. It robs of us the normal preparation time and we are prevented from communicating with our loved ones. There is no closure. Watch the video to better understand the emotional impacts caused by wrongful death and how to cope with them.
Wrongful Death Claims Part 3: Emotional Impacts
When a Wrongful Death Claim Exists while On the Job
What if the decedent was on the job at the time of their death? If a worker is killed on the job, then the workers compensation benefits would be available to the family of the decedent. It’s important to know that if the person was killed on the job due to the negligence of their employer or co-employee, then there would not be a wrongful death claim that can be brought on behalf of the family. Under Florida law, in most circumstances, an employee cannot sue their employer for anything beyond the normal workers compensation benefits. However, many times, the death is caused by something other than the employer or employee. For example, at a construction site the decedent may have been killed due to a dangerous product or unsafe contractor with another company. Or often times, a person is involved in a fatal car crash while on the road for work. Each of these examples would allow the survivors to bring a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party who caused the death.
Wrongful Death Claims Part 4: Killed on the Job
When a wrongful death claim can be brought if the decedent was killed on the job.
Effects of Comparative Negligence
What about comparative negligence? In many wrongful cases, the at-fault defendant will blame the dead person for the accident. Or often times, I have seen traffic homicide reports blame the dead person. In a traffic homicide case, it becomes very complicated. Commonly, the police feel that if you blame the dead person, then no one will be charged with a crime. Or the surviving driver will feel better about what happened. But when we look deeper into the facts of the deadly facts, there’s oftentimes scientific evidence and proof that the descendant was not at-fault for the crash at all. Unfortunately, these investigations are very expensive and need to be done right away. Before any evidence is lost, destroyed, or forgotten. Let’s discuss the issue of comparative negligence, as it might apply to some different scenarios. If the decedent was partially at fault, then the recovery on the case will be reduced by the decedent’s portion of fault. For example, if they were 10% at fault for the accident, then the court should determine the total damages. Then reduce the damages by 10% for the fault of the decedent.
Wrongful Death Claims Part 5: Comparative Negligence
How comparative negligence effects the recovery if the decedent was partially at fault for the wrongful death accident.
How Life Insurance Affects the Survivors
What about life insurance? How will this affect the case? If the person who died left millions of dollars of life insurance, does the jury get to learn about this fact? Will the life insurance cause the jury to think that since the wife and children recovered life insurance benefits that they should get less money? The answer is that life insurance is irrelevant to the damages and losses to the family because the decedent or their family paid insurance premiums for the life insurance. It would be unfair to hold this prudent financial investment against the survivors. However, the fact that the decedent purchased life insurance goes toward increasing the net accumulations recovery because this is obviously an investment of money that was being made by the decedent in their lifetime. It shows their financial worth as someone who invested money and planned ahead. The bottom line is life insurance is very relevant to the damages that the survivors are entitled to recover. However, the jury is not supposed to reduce the recovery because of any life insurance.
Wrongful Death Claims Part 6: Life Insurance
How life insurance affects the survivors and if it has an impact on the wrongful death case during a jury trial.
Prompt Action is Critical after a Wrongful Death Occurs
Consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney to protect your family
While hiring a lawyer in the immediately aftermath of a tragic accident may seem relatively unimportant in the face of such a severe loss; it is in fact a time sensitive and critical decision that may dramatically effect the lives of the surviving spouse and family members.
Unfortunately, person or companies responsible for causing death are frequently not held accountable due to the failure of surviving family members to institute prompt action. All to often, critical evidence is destroyed in the days and weeks following a fatal accident. Florida laws governing wrongful death require a claim to be filed in the court within 2 years of the death.
Look for an experienced Tampa wrongful death attorney who has handled your type of case before and who can appreciate both the complex legal issues, as well as the powerful emotional trauma involved in a death claim.