Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney
Standing by Your Side After the Loss of a Loved One
A fatal accident can have devastating emotional and financial consequences for a victim’s family. If you have lost a loved one in a preventable accident caused by another person’s carelessness, we encourage you to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. As a survivor, you may have a right to seek compensation for your loss. Darrigo & Diaz, Attorneys at Law, are prepared to review your case for free and inform you of your legal options.
What Expenses Can I Recover from a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
We can help you pursue compensation for the following losses:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering prior to death
- Loss of companionship, guidance, and protection
- Loss of financial support and services
- Survivors’ mental and emotional pain
Pursuing Compensation After a Wrongful Death in Florida
According to section 678.18 of the Florida statutes, the estate of a person killed due to the negligence, wrongful act, default, or breach of contract of another is entitled to bring a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for the wrongful death. Under the law, the personal representative of a deceased person’s estate (named in the deceased person’s will or estate plan) may file a wrongful death claim. In the absence of a will or estate plan, a representative will be appointed by the court.
Family members eligible to recover damages in a Florida wrongful death case include the deceased person’s spouse, children, parents, or any other relative who is partially or entirely dependent on the decedent for support.
There is a statute of limitations in Florida stating that a wrongful death claim can only be brought within four years from the date of a person’s death. If legal action is not taken during this time, the surviving family members will be forever barred from filing a lawsuit. It is critical to retain an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your right to legal recourse is protected.
Putting Your Needs First
Nothing can undo the wrong that has been done to your family. Still, a successful wrongful death lawsuit may provide you with the financial resources you need to offset unexpected expenses associated with the loss of your loved one. In challenging times like these, it is essential to work with an attorney who is compassionate and adept at handling these delicate cases.
Our Tampa wrongful death lawyers stand ready to assist you in any way possible. Our goal is to bring you the maximum settlement possible that you are entitled to under the law so that you can move forward and begin the process of healing from this painful experience.
What is a Wrongful Death Action?
According to Florida wrongful death statutes, it is an action that is brought against another party on behalf of the beneficiaries of the deceased person. Wrongful death actions can be brought against individuals, corporations, or firms. Florida law mandates that in the event of an accident caused by negligence, misconduct, or other carelessness results in a person’s death, their heirs can pursue recovery of expenses and lost income of which they were deprived.
What are Common Causes of Wrongful Death?
The most common causes of wrongful death are:
- Deaths caused by acts of violence.
- Failure to properly label dangerous substances or machinery.
- Defective products and services.
- Negligence or improper safety protocols that contribute to dangerous work environments.
- Medical errors in hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics. These can include the use of improper medications, surgical errors, or defective medical devices.
- Motor vehicle accidents as a result of drunk driving, negligence, or automotive manufacturer defects.
However, there are other situations where it can be determined that your loved one’s death was the direct result of carelessness. If your case doesn’t fall into these categories, it is still a good idea to check with an attorney to determine if it warrants a wrongful death action.
What Can Prompt a Wrongful Death Action Against Medical Providers?
The most common reasons that doctors and hospitals see wrongful death actions brought against them are for medical errors and malpractice, such as:
- Misdiagnosing the patient and providing the wrong course of treatment.
- Prescribing the wrong type or dose of a medication.
- A surgeon leaves an object such as a sponge or tool inside the patient’s body, leading to a deadly infection.
- An anesthesiologist neglects their responsibility to properly monitor anesthesia leading to the patient’s death from an overdose.
- Unsanitary conditions resulting in an untreatable infection.
- Neglect and abuse in elder care facilities.
In order to determine whether the death of a loved one was caused by malpractice, your attorney will call upon other medical experts in the same field to see if measures could have been taken to prevent the patient’s death.
How Long Does it Take to Resolve a Wrongful Death Action?
This is a difficult question because the length of time it takes to resolve a case depends on many factors. It may take as little as a few months, or it can draw on for years. The factors that affect the duration of your case can include:
- The amount and type of insurance your loved one carried.
- When questions remain about who is to be liable for the death.
- Placing too high a value on the expenses or lost income resulting from the death.
- Insurance companies are trying to place too low a value on the payout of the policy.
- Various other factors and legal tactics from the defendant’s counsel.
What is a Survival Action in Florida?
According to Florida survival action statutes, a survival action may be brought against a defendant to recover lost support and services and includes interest accumulated from the date of death. The amount recovered in a survival action could be calculated based on several factors:
- The relationship of the claimant to the decedent (i.e. child, spouse, another family member).
- The amount of the decedent’s probable net income.
- The replacement value of the decedent’s services.
- The average life expectancy of the decedent.
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish of the survivors.
- Minor’s loss of guidance, support, and companionship of a parent.
- Expenses such as funeral and medical care costs.
There are other factors that the court will consider in determining the total amount of the award to a survival action. It can be a separate action from a wrongful death action, but bringing a survival action should be considered with care as it may have implications on the wrongful death action award.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in Florida?
The Florida statute of limitations for wrongful death actions is four years from the date of death.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Action for an Unborn Fetus?
In Florida, the case of Tanner v. Hartog determined that an unborn fetus is not considered a person. Therefore, the family of the deceased fetus cannot bring a wrongful death action. However, if the injury also resulted in the mother’s death, the family may have the right to bring a wrongful death action on her behalf. If she did not die due to the injury caused to her fetus, she might still have legal recourse in the form of a personal injury action.
Is a Wrongful Death Action the Same as Criminal Prosecution?
No. A wrongful death action is a civil matter that can be brought whether or not the defendant is subject to criminal prosecution.
Can I Bring a Wrongful Death Action if the Decedent was Unemployed or Never Had a Job?
Yes. In cases where the decedent never contributed monetarily to the family, the court may place a monetary value on their services as a caregiver or domestic homemaker. This may occur in cases where a spouse stays at home to care for the family, and the legal term is “pecuniary losses.”
How Will I Receive My Wrongful Death Settlement Payments?
In most cases, wrongful death settlements in Florida are paid out in a single lump sum. Your attorney will deduct their fees and costs from this lump sum, and the remainder will go to the plaintiffs of the case. In the event the parties agree on a structured settlement, a lump sum is invested or placed into an interest-bearing account. The plaintiffs then receive payouts on a monthly or annual basis. This is usually more common in wrongful death settlements that involve minors as the plaintiffs.
Is an Autopsy Required in a Wrongful Death Action in Florida?
Typically, the court will only order an autopsy for cases where the cause of death is not evident and apparent. For example, if the death results from a shooting, the court would likely not request an autopsy. But, in a death that was possibly the result of a medical error such as the wrong prescription medication given, the court will almost always request an autopsy, even if the medical records clearly state the incorrect treatment was administered.