questions to ask your wrongful death attorney

Wrongful death lawsuits are a legal recourse available to families who have lost a loved one due to the negligence or misconduct of another party. These lawsuits seek to provide compensation for the survivors’ losses, including financial support, companionship, and emotional distress caused by the death.

Overall, navigating the legal process of a wrongful death suit can be challenging, but with the guidance of an experienced attorney, families can seek accountability and financial compensation for their loss. 

Our Florida wrongful death lawyers help you navigate the complexities of your legal case. Call us today at 888-554-2030.

Wrongful death cases can be complex, requiring a thorough understanding of both the legal and factual aspects involved.  Our experienced attorneys have answered some of the most asked questions when seeking legal recourse for a wrongful death. 

What is Wrongful Death?

In the law, the phrase “wrongful death,” is a term of art—it has a particular meaning with legal weight. According to Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute, wrongful death is defined as: “a civil cause of action brought by family members and dependents against individuals who knowingly or negligently cause the death of another person.”

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In Florida, there is only one person who can file a wrongful death lawsuit, but there are many more people who can collect damages (remedies in the form of monetary awards) in wrongful death actions.

In Florida, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate is the only individual who may legally file a wrongful death claim. If this entity was not chosen during the deceased lifetime, they will be appointed after death.

What Rights Does a Family Have to Pursue Wrongful Death Accountability?

The individuals who can collect damages in a wrongful death claim are known as beneficiaries. Often, these are the deceased individual’s family members. The court will determine which beneficiaries have a claim to wrongful death settlements or payouts.

Under Florida Statute 768.21, beneficiaries include the deceased individual’s:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Dependent family members

How Does the Wrongful Death Process Work?

The journey of a wrongful death claim looks a bit different in every state. In Florida, wrongful death claims typically follow a process involving these basic steps:

1. A loved one of the deceased will meet with an attorney to discuss the potential wrongful death claim. Wrongful death claims may be based on many individual wrongs, such as an accident, intentional carelessness, negligence, or some other wrongful act.

2. The representative of the deceased person’s estate will initiate a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased individual’s beneficiaries.

3. The claim may be litigated, mediated, or settled. These are all ways of coming to a legal conclusion regarding the claim.

How Hard Is It to Prove Wrongful Death?

Every case is different, and some wrongful death suits will be harder to “prove” than others. In the law, each type of claim is subject to a standard of proof. In a wrongful death claim, the burden of proving the claim is on the party who brought the suit, or the “plaintiff.”

The standard of proof for this type of claim is a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which means that the plaintiff must show that the other party was more likely than not to have caused the wrongful death. While the preponderance of the evidence standard imposes a relatively low bar for plaintiffs compared to other standards of proof, each case requires dedication from an experienced attorney.

What Should I do if an Insurance Company Approaches me for a Wrongful Death Settlement?

If an insurance company contacts you at all about a potential wrongful death claim, it’s important to secure your own legal representation before communicating with the insurance company.

Insurance companies make money off of paying the least amount possible to a deceased individual’s estate and beneficiaries. Your own counsel, on the other hand, can help you determine the amount you truly deserve, and fight for justice on your behalf.

What Damages Are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Case?

There are two main types of damages associated with wrongful death lawsuits: economic and non-economic damages. “Damages” are a type of remedy in the form of a monetary award paid to an individual who brings a successful lawsuit.

“Economic damages” refers to monies awarded for quantifiable losses that are proven to the jury. Examples of potential reasons for economic damage awards include but are not necessarily limited to medical expenses, funeral costs, lost wages, and the financial contributions that the deceased would have provided to their family.

Can I be Compensated for Pain and Suffering?

Yes, you can potentially be compensated for pain and suffering as a result of the wrongful death of your loved one. In a wrongful death claim, “non-economic damages” are a type of damages you may be eligible to recover. Non-economic damages seek to encompass the intangible losses that a loved one suffers from the death. Examples of potential reasons for non-economic damage awards can include mental and emotional anguish, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship.

Are Wrongful Death Compensations Taxable?

Usually, money received as a result of a wrongful death lawsuit is not taxable. This money is generally not treated as income such that it would be taxable. There are some exceptions to this general rule, including in cases where the estate and beneficiaries receive “punitive damages,” a type of payment to the estate that is meant to punish a wrongdoer.

Exceptions to the general nontaxability of wrongful death suit awards may also be made for money representing accrued interest, payments for some types of emotional distress, expenses that were previously deducted by the deceased individual, and so on.

What Are the Most Common Wrongful Death Accidents?

Wrongful deaths occur all too often. Here are some of the most common types of accidents which result in wrongful death claims:

  • Automobile collisions
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Bicycle accidents 
  • Semi-truck accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Plane crashes
  • Medical malpractice
  • Accidental death occurring at work
  • Death caused by a defective product
  • Death caused by unsafe or toxic food
  • Dog or animal attacks causing a fatal accident
  • Abuse or neglect occurring in a nursing home or assisted living facility
  • Accidents occurring in amusement parks or swimming pools

Why Should I Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer?

If your loved one passed away due to the actions of another person or entity, you deserve justice. Hiring an experienced wrongful death lawyer means that you will have an expert in your corner to fight for your best interests.

If you have experienced the loss of a loved one, we offer our sincere condolences. At The Ferraro Law Firm, we’re focused on helping you work through the legalities of your circumstances. We’ll fight to ensure receive the damages you’re entitled to, even in the worst of situations.
To schedule your free consultation, call 888-554-2030 or just fill out our free case consultation form and a member of our team will be in touch.