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What is wrongful death?  

Wrongful death refers to a legal claim made against a person who is allegedly liable for the death of another person. Wrongful death occurs when someone’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct causes the death of another person. The claim is typically brought by the surviving family members of the deceased and seeks damages for the loss of their loved one, including financial support, companionship, and emotional support. The goal of a wrongful death lawsuit is to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions and to provide monetary compensation to the surviving family members for their loss. 

To prove a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must generally show that the defendant’s actions caused the death of the victim and that the defendant was negligent, reckless, or intentional in their actions. The plaintiff must also demonstrate that they have suffered damages due to the death, such as loss of income or support, medical and funeral expenses, and pain and suffering. Civil wrongful death claims can arise from various situations, such as car accidents, medical malpractice, and defective products.  

Need help with a wrongful death action? Schedule your consultation today with a top business litigation attorney.  

What legal issues typically arise related to wrongful death?  

The following issues are common to wrongful death actions:  

  • Cause of death: The parties may dispute the determination of the cause of death 
  • Identifying the potential defendants: Finding potential defendants may be more difficult based on the available information.  
  • Proving of negligence, recklessness, or intentional conduct: A wrongful death action requires affirmative evidence of the defendant’s conduct. If little information is available, potential defendants may dispute their liability.  
  • Contributory negligence: If a defendant alleges comparative fault on the part of the plaintiff, the parties will likely dispute the extent of negligence belonging to either party.  

What are relevant laws related to wrongful death in Florida? 

In Florida, the Florida Wrongful Death Act primarily governs wrongful death actions. This Act provides a framework for bringing and litigating wrongful death claims in Florida and aims to ensure that survivors receive fair compensation for their losses in the event of wrongful death.  

More specifically, the Act addresses who may bring a wrongful death claim, who may be held liable for the death, and the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim. Additionally, the Act clarifies the types of available damages, such as compensation for medical and funeral expenses, lost earnings, lost companionship and protection, and mental pain and suffering. 

What is required to prove a case of wrongful death in Florida? 

To prove a case of wrongful death in Florida, the plaintiff must establish four elements: 

  • Duty of care: The defendant must have had a legal obligation to exercise reasonable care towards the deceased person;  
  • Breach of duty: The plaintiff must show that the defendant breached their duty of care to the deceased person by failing to act in a manner that a reasonable person in their position would have acted under similar circumstances;  
  • Causation: The defendant’s breach of duty must have been the direct cause of the deceased person’s death; and  
  • Damages: The plaintiff must prove that there were actual damages that resulted from the death.  

When a set of facts is appropriate to meet the requirements of a wrongful death action, there are many paths a claimant may take. We are value-based attorneys at Jimerson Birr, which means we look at each action with our clients from the point of view of costs and benefits while reducing liability. Then, based on our client’s objectives, we chart a path forward to seek appropriate remedies, such as:  

  • Compensatory damages 
  • Punitive damages 

To see what actions may be available for your unique situation, please contact our office to set up your initial consultation. 

What are common defenses to wrongful death in Florida? 

The primary defenses to wrongful death in Florida include:  

  • Contributory negligence: This defense asserts that the deceased person was partially responsible for their own death because they failed to exercise reasonable care for their safety. 
  • Assumption of risk: This defense asserts that the deceased person voluntarily assumed the risk of engaging in an activity that ultimately caused their death and that the defendant should not be held liable for their death. 
  • Comparative fault: This defense asserts that the deceased person was partially responsible for their own death and that the damages should reduce by the percentage of fault attributed to the deceased person. 
  • Lack of causation: This defense asserts that the defendant’s actions or inactions did not directly cause the victim’s death and that other factors were responsible. 
  • Statute of limitations: This defense asserts that the wrongful death claim was filed after the expiration of the statute of limitations and is, therefore, time-barred. 

To see what defenses may be available for your unique situation, please contact our office to set up your initial consultation. 

Have more questions about a wrongful death-related situation?  

Crucially, this overview of wrongful death does not begin to cover all the laws implicated by this issue or the factors that may compel the application of such laws. Every case is unique, and the laws can produce different outcomes depending on the individual circumstances. 

Jimerson Birr attorneys guide our clients to help make informed decisions while ensuring their rights are respected and protected. Our lawyers are highly trained and experienced in the nuances of the law, so they can accurately interpret statutes and case law and holistically prepare individuals or companies for their legal endeavors. Through this intense personal investment and advocacy, our lawyers will help resolve the issue’s complicated legal problems efficiently and effectively. 

Having a Jimerson Birr attorney on your side means securing a team of seasoned, multi-dimensional, cross-functional legal professionals. Whether it is a transaction, an operational issue, a regulatory challenge, or a contested legal predicament that may require court intervention, we remain a tireless advocate every step of the way. Being a value-added law firm means putting the client at the forefront of everything we do. We use our experience to help our clients navigate even the most complex problems and come out the other side triumphant. 

If you want to understand your case, the merits of your claim or defense, potential monetary awards, or the amount of exposure you face, you should speak with a qualified Jimerson Birr lawyer. Our experienced team of attorneys is here to help. Call Jimerson Birr at (904) 389-0050 or use the contact form to set up a consultation. 

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