A wrongful death case is one in which the negligence of a person results in the death of another person. This can include the same sort of events which lead to lawsuits requiring a personal injury attorney: automobile accidents, slip and fall accidents, and incidents of medical malpractice, to name a few. In a wrongful death case, since the deceased person is not able to represent themselves to pursue a claim against the at-fault parties, someone else must serve in that capacity on behalf of the estate of the deceased. Papers are filed with the court to request that the person be appointed as the personal representative of the decedent's estate.
Often, but not always, the personal representative is a family member of the person who died. Once the court approves the appointment of the personal representative, that individual acts as a sort of “delegate” to represent the survivors of the decedent, who then works with a wrongful death attorney. “Survivors” are those who are entitled by law to recover damages resulting from the death of the individual. Survivors can include the spouse, children, or parents of the decedent. Survivors in a wrongful death case may be entitled to recover damages for the loss of financial support and companionship of the deceased, as well as the mental pain, anguish and suffering they have endured because of the untimely death of their loved one. Florida law has very specific criteria to determine who qualifies as a survivor of a decedent, and the law is equally specific about the types of damages for which the survivors may recover.
The Goldberg Noone Law Firm has a team of skilled wrongful death attorneys, and has successfully represented clients in these types of cases for nearly 20 years.
Just What is a Wrongful Death Case?
The term ‘wrongful death' can be applied to a number of legal scenarios. A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed in a case where someone was killed in a car accident, on a construction job site, in a physical assault that ends in a fatality or because a medical practitioner did something wrong that resulted in a death. The filing of a wrongful death claim is meant to provide financial compensation for the deceased person's surviving family members. As you can imagine, it can be a tremendous hardship when a person who has been paying all of the bills dies, leaving the surviving family members with no means of supporting themselves.
What Type of Damages are Survivors Entitled To?
There are two types of damages generally awarded in wrongful death cases – economic and non-economic damages. The term ‘economic damages' refers to the financial losses of the deceased individual, which means items like the medical bills incurred prior to the death, as well as loss of income, funeral expenses and other items. ‘Non-economic' damages take into consideration things like the survivors' pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of enjoyment of life for the surviving family members and the pain and suffering of the decedent prior to their passing. If the death of a person resulted from a work-related accident, the survivors may only be entitled to a workers' compensation claim, which in general does not even begin to cover the expenses incurred as a result of the death, much less any future losses or financial obligations.
If your wrongful death case involves taking legal action against a doctor, hospital or some other type of medical institution, these are referred to as medical malpractice claims. People need to understand that medical malpractice lawsuits are extremely difficult to attempt to prove, and there are some exacting criteria needed in order to file this type of legal claim.
How Much Money is a Wrongful Death Case Worth?
The wrongful death attorneys at Goldberg Noone, LLC, receive calls all the time about the sudden, tragic loss of a loved one. Eventually, their questions turn to money – which is completely understandable. After a spouse or parent dies as a result of someone else's carelessness or negligence, it is natural to wonder how in the world you're going to pay all the bills, and support your family.
There are laws and rules of conduct governing Florida attorneys telling clients or prospective clients how much they can expect to be awarded in any type of lawsuit damages, including wrongful death claims. All lawsuits are extremely complex, and no two scenarios are ever the same. People often call us and want to know what their case is worth, and are sometimes disappointed when we can't provide them a number. Please take this bit of advice; if an attorney tells you a specific dollar amount that you can expect in a wrongful death case – or any type of personal injury lawsuit, for that matter – run. There is simply no way that any attorney can make that type of prediction, considering all of the many variables that come into play in filing or preparing to file a lawsuit. They MAY be able to suggest a RANGE of any anticipated financial settlement, but even that can be dangerous. There are just too many things that are always changing and evolving during the course of preparing a personal injury or wrongful death case.
We're Never Too Busy to Answer Your Wrongful Death Questions
When you're faced with the devastating circumstances of losing a beloved family member, we know you're going to have a million questions. It NEVER costs a penny to pick up the phone and speak directly to one of our experienced and skilled wrongful death attorneys to get the answers you deserve. We'll tell you what you need to know, NOT what you want to hear. We don't accept every case that comes into our office – in fact, we actually take a very small percentage of them. And if you do end up hiring our firm, you'll never pay us anything unless we are successful in obtaining a financial settlement or jury award on your behalf.
There are also time constraints as to how long after a wrongful death that you can file a financial claim, called statutes of limitations. We encourage you to pick up the phone and call us at 239-461-5508 to speak to us as soon as possible if you feel you may have a wrongful death claim.
The sooner you get the right answers to your specific questions, the sooner you can begin to rebuild your life and move forward.
We, at The Goldberg Law Firm, are dedicated to standing up for the rights and protection of victims of negligence and to seeing justice done. We will continue to direct our combined knowledge, determination, and drive to the limits for each and every one of our clients.
The results are record-breaking jury verdicts, real relationships with our clients, and legislative breakthroughs