Proving A Wrongful Death Case
To prove a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, the surviving family members of the deceased must prove each one of these key points to be successful and get financially compensated. These points are as follows:
• Negligence: The attorney of the surviving members must be able to prove the death of their loved one was totally or partially caused by the defendant due to carelessness, recklessness, or negligence.
• Breach Of Duty: The next step for the family members (plaintiffs) is to prove that the defendant owed a duty to the victim. An example is that as an auto driver we have a duty to drive the posted speed limit and follow all traffic laws. It is the plaintiff’s responsibility to demonstrate what the defendant's duty was and how that duty was breached.
• Causation: In addition to demonstrating and proving that the defendant breached their duty towards the deceased victim, the plaintiffs must prove how the defendants negligence was the cause of their loved ones death.
• Damages: The death of the victim generated damages such as emergency services, hospitalization, medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, loss of income and potential earnings. Other damages include pain and suffering, loss of companionship and guidance.
Most of these are very difficult to prove on your own, so it’s advisable to hire an experienced wrongful death attorney.
Wrongful Death Versus Murder
If your family member was murdered, it is not a wrongful death. Murder is considered a pre-planned event, or “negligent homicide”. Many people get confused about the difference, but the primary difference is wrongful death is a civil case and murder is a criminal lawsuit. Wrongful death is instituted by survivors of the victim against individuals or corporations responsible for the death of their loved one. Murder is a criminal lawsuit that is instituted by criminal prosecutors that can lead to incarceration or death. The “burden of proof” in a civil lawsuit is different. The plaintiff must prove by a “preponderance of the evidence” that there is a 51% probability that the defendant was negligent. In criminal cases the defendant must be found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Now a murder conviction or acquittal can lead to wrongful death suit. An example of this is a California civil court found OJ Simpson liable for wrongful death and was ordered to pay $33.5 million.
Florida’s Wrongful Death Laws
Many states, including Florida have statutes in place to allow beneficiaries to file a suit and recover damages for the wrongful death of their loved one. Statute 768.19 states, “When a person’s death is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default or breach of contract or warranty”, The estate of the deceased person can file a lawsuit. Beneficiaries include:
● Dependent blood relatives
● A child born out of wedlock of the mother or father. It must be established that said father had assumed responsibility and was supporting the child.
Florida law allows the surviving family to also ask for compensation for emotional distress. When it comes to family members this will include the spouse’s emotional trauma, the minor children for the lost benefits of their relationship with their parents. However, parents can only receive compensation is if their child is a minor. In most cases, the parents of adult children can’t recover damages for emotional distress. It is also important to remember that there is a statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death suit in Florida.
It is important during this tragic, grief-filled time that you find the right attorney whom you feel comfortable with. The attorneys at All Injuries Law Firm have more than thirty years experience representing wrongful death cases. We have a thorough understanding of how to best handle your wrongful death lawsuit. It is not only important to choose an attorney to get you the compensation you deserve, but one that will go the extra mile for you during this traumatic time of your life. Call us at 1-941-625-HURT to learn more.