Wrongful Death Lawsuit: Learning the Basics
Was your family member’s death the direct result of someone else’s negligence? You’re not alone.
Motor vehicle accidents and unsafe premises (including workplaces) take a staggering number of loved ones away from their family members every year.
If your family member died and someone else was responsible, you may be eligible for a wrongful death lawsuit. While legal action can’t bring your loved one back, it is a legal remedy to see justice and damages.
Keep reading to learn whether a wrongful death lawsuit is right for you.
Wrongful Death: What Is It?
Every state has some form of lawful death law on its books. The creation of these laws dates to the nineteenth century to allow survivors of a family member to sue in the event their family member was killed as the result of negligence or an intentional act.
When Is Wrongful Death Applicable?
Wrongful death requires two parts: a death and a legal liability by another party.
The party may be an individual or organization. In the case of a death in a car accident, the deceased’s survivors may sue the other driver if they were negligent and directly caused the death. If the car accident was the fault of the auto manufacturer or another party, the family might sue the car maker.
Can You File a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death lawsuit begins when a representative files the lawsuit on behalf of the survivors (family or estate) of the deceased. The person or persons are the “real parties of interest.”
People who qualify as “real parties of interest differ according to state. Depending on state and local law, it may include:
- Immediate family
- Life partners
- Financial dependents
- Distant family members
- Parents of a deceased fetus
Florida’s Wrongful Death Act law defines survivors as:
- Decedent’s spouse, children, and parents
- Blood and adoptive relatives partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services
- Children born out of wedlock to a mother but not to father unless child support is paid
Minor children are those under 25 years of age.
If you qualify as a survivor, the wrongful death statute of limitations in Florida is two years after the day of deceased’s death.
The Proof Required for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Proving wrongful death requires proving negligence. Four elements are involved in negligence in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Duty and breach of duty
Duty and Breach of Duty
To file a wrongful death lawsuit against another party, the party must have owed the deceased some “due care” or duty.
The death must then have been the result of a breach of the due care owed.
Causation requires proving that it was a breach of duty that directly caused the harm.
Damages are more straightforward in a wrongful death case because the damages are apparent: a person died as a result of a breach of duty.
Was Your Loved One the Victim of a Wrongful Death?
Nothing can bring your loved one back, but a wrongful death lawsuit may ease the financial burden associated with a loss of income, unplanned funerals, and moving forward with life.