Wrongful Death FAQ
Is a Wrongful Death Case Criminal or Civil?
While criminal actions may have led to the death of your loved one, a wrongful death suit is strictly civil. A criminal case is brought when the government is seeking to punish an individual for committing some type of crime. If crime played a part in your loved one’s death, the party at fault may face both criminal and civil cases. In the civil case, you can pursue financial recovery for damages compared to the legal penalties that a criminal case can bring.
Who Can File a Claim?
Any person who is considered a dependent of the deceased may be eligible to file a claim. The right to file a claim typically first goes to spouses and children, then parents, siblings, or other relatives. General dependents such as life partners or other parties may also have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim for their losses. If you have questions on whether or not you are qualified to file a claim, reach out to The Pittman Firm, P.A. for counsel.
What Type of Damages Can Be Recovered?
Depending on the specific circumstances of your loved one’s death, you may be able to recover a broad range of damages. Economic compensation in these cases can typically cover funeral expenses and lost wages or future earnings that the deceased would have provided. The medical and hospital expenses incurred due to the accident or injuries that led to death may also be recovered. Noneconomic damages that can be recovered include compensation for loss of guidance, loss of companionship, and grief. In extreme cases, punitive damages may be awarded if the party’s actions that led to the wrongful death were intentional (criminal), reckless, or grossly negligent.
How Will the Wrongful Death Award Be Decided?
When determining the amount of compensation to award a family or dependent in a wrongful death case, the court will review several key aspects of the case. They will calculate the economic losses, determine the extent of noneconomic losses suffered (loss of love, nurturing, companionship, etc.), and decide whether or not punitive damages are necessary. These calculations are based off the details provided in court, which can include everything from evidence demonstrating the negligence of the at-fault party to the strength of the child’s relationship with their lost parent. Expert witnesses, accident reconstruction, family member testimony, and more may be used to help guide a judge and jury to award a fair amount.
Is There a Time Limit On Filing a Wrongful Death Claim?
Yes. In Florida, the statute of limitations is two years. If you fail to file a claim within this time, you may be unable to have your case heard in court or recover the compensation you and your family deserve for the loss of your loved one. Keep in mind, there are some circumstances that involve a shorter or longer statute of limitations for wrongful death cases. That is why it is so crucial to discuss your case with a knowledgeable lawyer.
How Long Will it Take to Resolve a Wrongful Death Case?
This can depend on a number of different factors involved in your case. From the quality of evidence provided to the court to the legal strategy of the at-fault party, a variety of issues can change the way a wrongful death is resolved. Whether or not the responsible party is willing to settle or requires you to take a case all the way through court can also impact the length of the process. If economic, noneconomic, and punitive damages have to be calculated, this will also likely add more time to the case.
Do I Need an Attorney to File a Claim?
While you have the choice whether or not to retain a lawyer, it is always in your best interests to secure experienced counsel during a time like this. Not only can a seasoned attorney keep you informed of your rights and legal options, but they can also help you craft a strong, compelling case that withstands the trial process or brings about a desirable settlement. When you have a skilled advocate on your side, you can focus on grieving and moving forward with your friends, family, and loved ones.
For additional answers, reach out to the Florida wrongful death lawyer at the firm.