Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim with the Help of a Boca Raton Wrongful Death Lawyer
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a civil legal case seeking monetary compensation for the loss of a family member that was caused by someone else’s actions. There are two types of wrongful death claims:
- Wrongful deaths caused by intentional torts such as assault and battery
- Wrongful deaths caused by negligence
An example of a wrongful death claim arising from an intentional tort would be when a man gets into an argument with a business associate. The argument escalates and a physical altercation ensues, leading to the man being severely beaten. He eventually succumbs to his injuries and dies. The man’s wife could pursue a wrongful death claim seeking damages, even if the business associate is facing criminal charges.
The majority of wrongful death cases handled by a Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer are claims arising from negligence, however. For example, a parent may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim if their child is killed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver.
As mentioned above, it is important to keep in mind that wrongful death cases can only be pursued by the estate of the decedent. A knowledgeable Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer can help you navigate the estate issues in your case so that you can properly proceed with a wrongful death case.
What You Must Prove in a Wrongful Death Case
Every legal claim has specific components or “elements” that must be proven in order for the claim to be successful. The elements that you must prove in a wrongful death case will depend upon whether the death was caused by negligence or by an intentional tort. A Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer will not only know what elements you will need to prove but also what evidence you will need to build a strong case.
Wrongful Deaths Caused by Negligence
To succeed in a wrongful death claim caused by negligence, you will need to prove the following elements:
- That the defendant owed your family member a duty;
- That the defendant breached that duty;
- That the defendant’s breach led to the accident that killed your family member; and
- That your family suffered harm as a result of the death of your family member.
Proving these elements can be more challenging than you think, and your family only has one opportunity to recover the compensation you need to move forward in life. The most common challenge lies in proving that the defendant was negligent in some way. A Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer can help you gather the evidence you need to prove your case.
Wrongful Deaths Caused by Intentional Torts
To prove your case in a wrongful death claim caused by an intentional tort, you must prove the following:
- That the defendant committed an act;
- With the intent to cause the other person serious harm or death; and
- The act resulted in the death of that person.
In these cases, the biggest challenge is in proving intent. It can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between negligent or reckless behavior and intentional behavior. A Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer can evaluate your case and determine whether you should pursue a claim based on negligence or as an intentional tort.
A Boca Raton Wrongful Death Lawyer Handling All Types of Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful deaths arising from negligence are the most common type of wrongful death case. At The Grife Law Firm, we have deep experience in handling all types of wrongful death cases, regardless of the underlying cause. This includes wrongful deaths arising from the following situations:
- Motor vehicle accidents including car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, electric scooter accidents, boating accidents, rideshare accidents, bus accidents, and commercial vehicle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Premises liability accidents including slip and fall accidents, negligent security, building and fire code violations, and swimming pool accidents
- Medical malpractice including surgical errors, birth injuries, anesthesia errors, diagnostic errors, and medication errors
- Dangerous or defective products including dangerous drugs and defective medical devices
- Dog and animal attacks
Whatever led to your loved one’s wrongful death, you can trust that a Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer from our firm will have the knowledge and experience necessary to get fair compensation for your loss.
You Will Need Professional Help to Get the Compensation You Deserve
Families who have lost a loved one face numerous challenges, particularly financial. Spouses, children, and even parents may have depended on the decedent’s wages, benefits, investments, and other sources of current and future income to meet a wide variety of needs. The family members are entitled to more than just compensation for the current income they have lost, but also future earnings. The difficulty is that it can be difficult to prove what the decedent’s future income can be. More than likely, you will need an expert who can estimate your future losses and be able to testify to the same.
In the context of a wrongful death lawsuit, an expert opinion can make the difference between not being able to meet your future expenses and being able to live the life they worked for.
We have an extensive network of economic and other subject matter experts who help us build our clients’ claims. When you work with a Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer from The Grife Law Firm, you gain access to a team of professionals working together to achieve a fair result.
How to Prepare for Your Initial Consultation with a Boca Raton Wrongful Death Lawyer from The Grife Law Firm
We understand what you are going through – the grief over your loss as well as the anxiety over your future. We understand that you are coming to us at the lowest point in your life and that you would rather not be here. As a result, we do our best to bring some peace of mind and to make the path forward as painless as possible.
We don’t want you to feel intimidated when you meet with us. We want you to meet with us as you are and as prepared as you can be, under the circumstances. To the extent that you are able, here are some steps you can take to prepare for your meeting:
- Bring a list of the decedent’s potential heirs
- Bring a copy of the decedent’s will or any other estate planning documents
- Bring copies of the decedent’s medical reports
- Bring a copy of the accident report or other documentation of the accident that led to the decedent’s death
- Bring statements from any bank accounts, investment accounts, or other financial accounts the decedent may have had
- Bring copies of the decedent’s tax returns and pay stubs
If you cannot put your hands on any of these things at the moment, we understand. Just come to the meeting to discuss your situation and your options. We can then help you gather up whatever documents you may need to get started. We work with you side-by-side every step of the way until your case is fully resolved.
In some states, family members such as the surviving spouse, surviving adult children, or surviving parents can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Unfortunately, the situation is more complicated in Florida. Under Florida law, the wrongful death lawsuit can only be filed by the personal representative of the victim’s estate. The situation becomes more complicated if the victim does not have a will or other estate planning document that names a personal representative. However, this does not mean that you have no claim – just that additional steps will need to be taken in order to have someone appointed as the victim’s personal representative. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s actions or negligence, a Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer can help you navigate the process.
Who Can the Personal Representative Assist?
It is important to note that the personal representative is not suing on their own behalf. Instead, they are filing the lawsuit on behalf of the victim’s estate, including any potential beneficiaries. To that end, the personal beneficiary must list all potential beneficiaries who may have an interest in the outcome of the lawsuit, including the following:
- The surviving spouse
- The surviving children (both minor and adult children)
- The surviving parents
The people listed above are considered to be the “primary beneficiaries.” In other words, their claims will be given priority over claims that other family members or other people who were financially dependent upon the victim may have. A Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer can help you determine whether you might have a claim.
A Boca Raton Wrongful Death Lawyer Helping You Recover the Compensation You Need to Rebuild Your Life
While no amount of money can fully replace the loss in your life, Florida law allows the surviving family members to pursue damages to cover the financial harm and other losses you are experiencing.
The damages that are available fall into two categories:
- Damages available to the family; and
- Damages available to the estate.
The damages available to the family members include the following:
- The loss of services and support that the victim provided to the family, including their support, instruction, and guidance as a parent;
- The loss of companionship;
- Pain and suffering; and
- The victim’s medical and funeral expenses were paid by the family.
The damages available to the estate include the following:
- The victim’s lost wages, benefits, and other income from the date of their injury until their death (unless they died at the scene of the incident);
- The victim’s expected earnings and benefits that were lost as a result of their premature death; and
- Any medical and funeral expenses that were paid by the estate.
All of these damages are not necessarily available in every case. In the case of the death of a child, for example, expected lost income may not be available. Furthermore, surviving minor children are likely to be entitled to greater damages than surviving adult children. A Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer can evaluate your claim and determine what compensation you may be entitled to pursue.
Frequently Asked Questions About Florida Wrongful Death Claims
How long do I have to file a wrongful death claim?
The statute of limitations under Florida law requires that any wrongful death claim be filed within two years of the date of the victim’s death. If you do not file within that deadline, you will lose all of your rights to compensation regardless of how strong your case may be. The only exception is in deaths caused by murder or manslaughter. Even though this sounds like a long time, we encourage you to contact a Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.
My loved one has been seriously injured and may not survive. Should I contact a Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer now?
Most lawyers who handle wrongful death claims also handle personal injury cases. As a result, they may be able to help you pursue a claim for compensation if their injuries are the result of another party’s negligence. Should your loved one not survive, they will be well-positioned to handle the subsequent wrongful death claim.
What do I have to prove in a wrongful death claim?
Generally speaking, you will need to prove that another person intentionally or negligently caused the death of the victim. Cases involving intentional deaths often involve criminal investigations and prosecutions and therefore have unique considerations.
You will also need to prove your damages. This means that you will need to document any medical and funeral expenses, lost income, anticipated income, as well as things like lost companionship. Calculating damages in wrongful death claims is not easy, and we recommend that you work with an experienced Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer to ensure that you receive the compensation your family deserves.
How does a pending criminal case affect my wrongful death claim?
While the cases arise from the same incident, your wrongful death claim is independent of any pending criminal case. For example, if your loved one was killed by a drunk driver, you can proceed with a wrongful death claim independently from any drunk driving charges. Even if the other person is found not guilty, you may still be able to successfully pursue your claim. The question is whether or not you should wait for the conclusion of the criminal charges – a conviction can be powerful evidence in your case. A Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer will be able to provide guidance as to when is the right time to pursue your claim.
How much does it cost to hire a Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer?
Most, if not all, wrongful death lawyers handle cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that their fees are paid as a percentage of any compensation they recover for you. As a result, you do not pay any legal fees out-of-pocket.
My loved one died without a will – can I still pursue a wrongful death claim?
You can still pursue a wrongful death claim even if your loved one died without a will. However, cases where there is no will are somewhat more complicated since there is no one who can yet pursue the claim on behalf of the estate. As a result, the first step is to have someone named as a personal representative of the estate. This is typically the surviving spouse or other adult who has the ability to work through the estate administration process.
Once a personal representative has been appointed, they can then pursue the wrongful death claim. Because there was no will, however, any compensation will be distributed to the heirs and beneficiaries according to Florida’s intestate succession laws. There are many misconceptions when it comes to intestate succession, but in most cases, the compensation will be distributed as you would normally expect. The bottom line is that following the process is ultimately worth it for your family’s future.
If you have lost a loved one who did not have a will or other estate plan in place, a Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer can work with your family to get a personal representative appointed and then proceed with your wrongful death claim.
My loved one died quite a while after the accident. Can I still pursue a wrongful death claim?
You can pursue a wrongful death claim even if your loved one did not die at the scene of the accident. In fact, many wrongful death claims involve deaths that occurred long after the accident. This is common in medical malpractice claims, for example.
That said, these cases can present some unique challenges. The opposing party may try to argue that intervening circumstances resulted in their death, or that the accident was only partially to blame. The best thing to do is consult with an experienced Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer to ensure that your case is as strong as possible.
About Government Liability Cap In a Florida Wrongful Death Case
Individuals may feel powerless when they suffer injuries and hold the government partially responsible. Although there are limitations on lawsuits against the government, plaintiffs can file a lawsuit if the government caused the accident. However, in Florida, there is a liability cap for government entities. This means that typically, plaintiffs cannot receive more than $200,000 in damages when suing the government. But what happens when multiple people are injured? Does the $200,000 cap apply to each victim or the entire incident? The Florida Supreme Court addressed this question in a 2020 case. Ultimately, the court determined that the government liability cap applies to the entire event, rather than imposing an individual damages cap for each victim.
In a tragic case preceding a mass shooting, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) was notified about a husband’s abusive behavior. After investigating, DCF concluded that the wife and children were not at significant risk of harm and closed the case. However, several months later, the husband fatally shot his estranged wife, four children, and injured a fifth child. The representative of one deceased child’s estate filed a lawsuit against DCF, claiming liability for the child’s wrongful death. Additionally, the father of the injured child and the representatives of the estates of the other three deceased children filed a separate lawsuit against DCF.
The plaintiffs argued that DCF failed to protect the children from an unreasonable risk of harm by neglecting to conduct a thorough investigation into the domestic violence matter. DCF contended that due to Florida’s limited waiver of sovereign immunity, which restricts damages when the government is the defendant, the maximum amount the plaintiffs could recover was $200,000. According to Florida Statute § 768.28(5), damages paid by the state or its agencies for all claims “arising out of the same incident or occurrence” cannot exceed $200,000. The plaintiffs argued that each victim’s shooting should be considered a separate “incident or occurrence,” allowing $200,000 in damages for each deceased child. However, the court ruled that the phrase “same incident or occurrence” referred to the overall event, rather than individual actions against each victim. Thus, the claims arising from the shooting were considered part of the “same incident or occurrence” and subject to the $200,000 cap for damages paid by the state government.
While this case involves a criminal act, the same damages cap applies to civil cases against the government, such as slip and fall accidents or auto accidents. However, due to the complexity of the law surrounding government liability caps in Florida and its ongoing development, it is crucial for potential plaintiffs to seek guidance from an experienced wrongful death attorney who can assist them in building their case.
Turn To A Boca Raton Wrongful Death Attorney At The Grife Law Firm
No Fees Unless You Win
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, our Boca Raton wrongful death attorney will fight for the compensation you and your family deserve. We assist families throughout Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, including West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. Call us today at 855-998-0770 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.
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