Was Your Loved One’s Death Wrongful or Questionable?
The unexpected and untimely death of a family member is a shattering experience. When there are indications that a loved one’s death should not have happened, the sorrow cuts deeper. It is better, and often necessary, to get questions answered after a loved one’s death that may have been a wrongful death. Obtaining a judgment and recovering monetary damages in a wrongful death lawsuit may be the last chance to speak for the deceased, to declare that they were wrongly deprived of their life. In the death of a family’s breadwinner, a wrongful death investigation and claim can also result in immense financial help to the family, though no amount of money can truly make up for such a loss.
The wrongful death lawyers at Payer & Associates can help if you have lost a loved one due to someone’s negligence in the Greater Miami area. We investigate fatal accidents and crimes, and we aggressively pursue compensation for family members in wrongful deaths. We work hard to answer lingering questions and, when fault can be demonstrated, ease the financial strain caused by the loss of a family’s loved one.
What Is a Wrongful Death Under Florida Law?
The Florida Wrongful Death Act provides specified immediate family members (“survivors”) the right to seek compensation when a person’s death is caused by a “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty.”
Examples of wrongful death in Florida would include:
- Criminal assault or another commission of crime resulting in death including negligent security (wrongful act)
- Fatal accident at work
- Causing a fatal accident through carelessness or recklessness, like a car accident or slip-and-fall accident (negligence)
- Failing to act as bound by legal or moral duty to avoid a death, such as not trying to save a drowning child under your care (default)
- Knowingly selling a defective product that causes death (breach of contract or warranty)
Florida law allows the personal representative of the decedent’s estate to sue in civil court on behalf of the estate and the decedent. A personal representative is normally named in an individual’s will or estate plan, but may be appointed by a court in the absence of a will or estate plan.
Survivors who may obtain compensation (“damages”) in a wrongful death claim include the:
- Children younger than 25 years old
- Blood relatives or adoptive siblings who were dependent on the decedent for services or support at the time of his or her death
What Compensation Is Available in a Wrongful Death Claim?
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate could seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses paid for care related to the accident and injury
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost earnings (of the deceased person)
- Lost support and services (including future losses)
- Loss of companionship and protection (for the spouse)
- Loss of parental companionship, instruction and guidance
- Mental pain and suffering
In some cases, a court might award punitive damages, which is additional compensation based on egregious conduct by the defendant. Some compensation, if awarded, would go to the estate to satisfy outstanding debts or expenses, and some would be specifically for survivors. To maximize the compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit, Payer & Associates investigates to ensure a full accounting of expenses and losses caused by the accident resulting in death. We also work with consulting financial and actuarial professionals to determine lost earnings of the decedent, and prospective earning of any assets the estate held or would have held had the decedent continued to live.
Additionally, we get to know the survivors in the wrongful death cases we pursue, and come to know the anguish they suffer because of their loved one’s death. Such non-economic damages awarded for mental pain and suffering, and loss of companionship and parental care and guidance, often rely on how well a jury is persuaded of this loss. Developing a wrongful death claim that seeks appropriate compensation and that is persuasive requires not only knowledge of the law, but experience with wrongful death claims in Florida. Payer & Associates brings 40 years of combined legal experience with wrongful death and personal injury attorneys in South Florida, and a track record of success in negotiations and before juries.
Winning a Wrongful Death Judgment in Florida
A wrongful death claim (lawsuit) must meet certain criteria to be certified by the court and move forward. This includes establishing that:
- A wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty occurred
- Such conduct was the cause of death, and
- Had the decedent lived, he or she could have pursued a personal injury claim based on the conduct cited.
A wrongful death claim is different from a criminal trial, and may proceed even if a criminal trial — such as for a fatal drunk driving accident or on a murder charge — ended in acquittal (a finding of not guilty). In civil court, there is a lower burden of proof. While the prosecution in a criminal case must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, in a wrongful death case the family members of the decedent need only to show that their version of events is more likely than not to be true (greater weight of the evidence).
Any death that should not have happened may be part of a wrongful death claim if the above criteria can be met. If you have lost a loved one in circumstances that you believe include criminal, negligent or reckless acts of someone other than the deceased, you have a right to question your loss, and to get answers. At Payer & Associates, we will take your side, listen to you, and seek to answer your questions and concerns. We want you to have answers and, if at all possible, to obtain maximum compensation for your loss.
Contact a Miami Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
At Payer & Associates, our wrongful death attorneys have dedicated their legal careers to helping individuals and families at the most painful times their lives, including after the unexpected and perhaps unjust death of a loved one. We have 40 years of combined experience, and we know what you are going through. We can’t change your loss, but we can work diligently to change your financial future for the better. We’re on your side. We take your questions and concerns seriously. When one of our Miami wrongful death lawyers — James D. Payer or Christian G. Payer — begins to work with you, he becomes your attorney and will be at your side for the entirety of your case. He and the Payer & Associates firm will stand and fight for you.
If you have concerns about a death in your family, please do not delay. Wrongful death claims are complex and time consuming. In Florida, a wrongful death case must to be filed within four years of the death in most cases to avoid the statute of limitations. Don’t be tortured by unanswered questions. If you are in the Greater Miami area of South Florida, contact a wrongful death lawyer at Payer & Associates any time of the day or night to set up a free initial consultation. We can come to meet with you, or welcome you to our offices in Miami or Plantation. We never charge for legal fees or expenses unless we obtain compensation for you.