Wrongful Death Attorney and Law Firm
Championing Victims’ Families in Florida
When someone who is close to you passes away, it can leave a major void in your life. When the death happens suddenly because of the actions of another party, it can be even more devastating. An unexpected and unnecessary loss is hard to take, and the grief can be overwhelming. Lots of questions go through your mind during times like these, such as, “why did this have to happen?” and “what am I going to do now?”
When negligent or intentional conduct claims a life, a wrongful death action can be brought against the party that is responsible for the death. While no amount of money can ever bring back a lost loved one, financial compensation will help soften the blow a little bit and give you some breathing room to help you adjust to your new circumstances. Taking legal action is also important to help ensure that those responsible for your loved one’s death are held to account, and that others do not have to suffer the way you and your family have.
The Pensacola wrongful death lawyers at Whibbs, Stone, & Barnett, act with compassion and perseverance to obtain maximum compensation for survivors. We have extensive experience with this area of the law, and we work closely with our clients, exploring every potential legal avenue toward securing the most favorable result possible.
You may be worried about how you will pay household and medical bills, how you will get by without your loved one’s paycheck and even how your family will fare emotionally. We seek damages to cover those costs as well as funeral and burial expenses. And when the defendant’s conduct warranted it, we vigorously pursue punitive damages to send a message that this type of conduct cannot be tolerated.
Florida Wrongful Death Laws
Florida Statutes section 768.19 covers wrongful death actions. This statute states that survivors have the right of action when a person’s death is caused by the “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person…” Essentially, a wrongful death lawsuit is like a personal injury lawsuit, except that the injured party is deceased.
It is important to note that a wrongful death claim is a civil action that is completely separate of any type of criminal charges the defendant may be facing for the accident or event that caused your loved one’s death. The defendant may or may not be charged criminally, but regardless, this has no bearing on a wrongful death civil claim.
A criminal case is brought by the government, and the defendant faces penalties such as fines and jail time. A civil claim is brought by a private party that has suffered harm because of the death, and it seeks monetary damages as compensation for the losses that have been sustained.
There are numerous fatal accidents and events that may warrant a wrongful death action, some of the most common include:
- Car Accidents
- Trucking Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Bus Accidents
- Boating Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- Premises Liability Accidents
- Accidents caused by Defective or Dangerous Products
- Nursing Home Abuse
- Workplace Accidents
Who is Allowed to Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
A wrongful death lawsuit can only be brought in Florida by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. This would be the person who is named/appointed to this position in the decedent’s will or estate plan. If there is no will or estate plan, a personal representative must be appointed by the court. This process could take several weeks or longer, so if you need to get a personal representative appointed before initiating a wrongful death action, it is best to get on this as soon as possible so as to stay within the statute of limitations for your civil claim.
Although a Florida wrongful death claim is brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, it is brought on behalf of the decedent’s surviving family members. Each survivor who has an interest in the case must be listed on the claim. This may include:
- The decedent’s spouse;
- The decedent’s children;
- The decedent’s parents;
- Blood relatives or adoptive siblings who are wholly or partially dependent on the decedent for support and services.
Damages Recoverable from Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuits
As mentioned previously, monetary damages can be sought to help compensate the victim’s loved ones for their losses. Damages that may be available in a wrongful death action include:
- The value of the support and services the decedent provided to a surviving family member;
- The loss of companionship and protection a spouse received from the decedent;
- The loss of parental companionship, instruction, guidance, and protection the children received from the decedent;
- The emotional pain and suffering due to the loss of the decedent;
- Medical expenses incurred by the decedent prior to their death;
- Funeral and burial costs.
In some cases, punitive damages might also be imposed by the court to punish the wrongdoer and help deter them (and others) from committing similarly egregious actions in the future. Punitive damages are appropriate when the actions that led to the decedent’s death were willful, malicious, fraudulent, or grossly negligent.
Do Not Delay
While it is difficult for family members to think about a lawsuit immediately after losing a loved one, it is important not to delay in talking to one of our Pensacola wrongful death attorneys. A wrongful death action must be filed under strict deadlines (within two years of the date of death in most cases), and any delay may result in lost evidence, which could seriously damage your case.
Our Pensacola negligence lawyers work swiftly to preserve the evidence and the statements of key witnesses so that we have an accurate picture of the accident. We also fully understand Florida’s wrongful death statute and how to meet its many complex requirements.
Any type of personal injury accident that is fatal can be the basis for a wrongful death claim. Our attorneys have more than 60 years of combined experience obtaining compensation for families who have lost a loved one because of another party’s wrongful actions.
When You Need a Pensacola Fatal Accident Attorney You Can Trust
At Whibbs, Stone, & Barnett, we understand that the loss of your loved one has caused immense emotional and financial pain to you and your family, and our goal is to make the legal process as smooth and seamless as possible. We take care of the entire process from start to finish, and we handle all of the complicated legal tasks, so you can take the time you need to grieve your loss and move forward with your life.
To speak with our wrongful death attorney in Pensacola or Fort Walton Beach for a free consultation, contact us online or call us at (850) 434-5395. We look forward to delivering the strong legal guidance and moral support you need during this difficult time, and we will work hard to recover the just compensation you deserve.