Florida statute defines wrongful death as a death caused by someone else because of “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty.” This could be a criminal act or an act of negligence. Either needs the help of a wrongful death lawyer in Palm Bay.
If you live in Palm Bay, Florida, and want help with a wrongful death claim, Andrew Pickett Law is the firm to call. We have experience with wrongful death cases and will do our utmost to bring you justice during this tragic time.
Wrongful Death Cases vs. Criminal Cases
Filing a wrongful death case with the court is not a way to press criminal charges. That is up to the state to decide. What filing one will do is try to get you compensation for your loss. The only award you can get from one is money.
That said, it’s not an either/or situation. You can file a civil lawsuit even though the accused has a criminal case. Evidence from one case can be used in the other once it’s in the public record. This can make it easier to press your claim to compensation.
Your wrongful death attorney in Palm Bay can advise you on the best course of action when there’s a criminal and a civil case involved in your situation. In some circumstances, it may be better to wait until later in a criminal trial before filing a civil case.
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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Florida, only the personal representative of the estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, the representative does this on behalf of the estate and on behalf of survivors, including:
- Minor children
- Adult children if they have no surviving spouse
- Parents of deceased minor children
- Parents of adult children, if there are no other survivors
- Family relations that were were dependent on the deceased.
If no personal representative was named in the will or by the court, you’ll need to get one named as soon as possible. This is a matter for probate court. You may need to speak with a probate lawyer to get one named in a timely manner. This is crucial for avoiding the statute of limitations.
Florida law only allows wrongful death lawsuits up to two years from the death. If you go beyond this time, barring cases of murder or manslaughter, you will not be able to file for wrongful death in court.
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Types of Damages You Can Claim
When a suit is filed, two groups of people can claim damages. One is the estate, and the other is the survivors. Each is eligible for separate kinds of damages. The estate is allowed to claim, under Florida Statute §768.21:
- Loss of earnings from the deceased from the date of injury to the date of death
- Medical and funeral expenses paid out by or on behalf of the estate
- Loss of wealth that the estate could have reasonably accumulated but couldn’t because of the death. (e.g. lost wages)
Note carefully that damages for the estate start from the time of injury, not the date of death. The survivors, on the other hand, are eligible for these damages:
- Medical and funeral expenses they paid out of pocket
- Loss of consortium
- Lost support and services to survivors
- Pain and suffering
The survivors’ payout is not in a lump sum but will be split by the court when the case is finished. Each survivor will get a separate amount, along with the estate.
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How Do I Know if I Have a Case?
The big question to ask before filing is does the at-fault party have enough assets or an insurance policy that can cover the damages? This is the unfortunate reality of wrongful death cases. It is hard to sue someone if they have no money to claim.
However, in many wrongful death situations, there will be an insurance policy somewhere. Your wrongful death attorney will study the matter and make every effort to find an avenue where you can get compensation.
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Seek a Compassionate Palm Bay Wrongful Death Attorney
We know how hard it can be to face a wrongful death situation. Andrew Pickett Law will do whatever they can to see that you receive financial justice in this matter. Our office serves Palm Bay and all of Brevard County
To get started, call us or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Your consultation is free and without obligation.