Experiencing the tragic loss of a loved one after a catastrophic accident caused by another is very difficult to face. Not only will you and your family be grieving their loss, but there will also be long-term effects on your life that you may not be currently considering.
No matter how much you are hurting, you must be aware of the financial impacts your loved one’s loss can have. You can face medical bills, funeral expenses, and long-term impacts, such as loss of income, outstanding debts, loss of companionship, and long-term pain and suffering.
At Bernstein & Maryanoff, our wrongful death lawyers are here to assist you and your family. We fully understand that no amount of money can make up for the loss of your loved one. Our goal is to ensure you and your family receive the monetary compensation you deserve. As such, you can be financially secure and have one less thing to worry about as you grieve and recover.
Wrongful Death Claim Process
Wrongful death claims can occur in two different ways. Either your loved one could have sustained severe personal trauma and succumbed to their injuries after time, or they could have died due to immediately fatal injuries.
To initiate a wrongful death claim, you must meet the following conditions:
- The deceased was an immediate family member, such as a spouse, child, or parent, including adopted family members.
- If the survivor is not an immediate family member, they must have been primarily supported by the deceased.
- Their death was the result of negligence caused by another.
- The survivors will experience personal and financial difficulties due to the loss.
An exception also allows the deceased’s estate to initiate the wrongful death claim process. In addition, you will need to provide supporting evidence that indicates the other party was entirely or primarily at fault for your loved one’s death.
How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
It can be challenging to navigate the complex processes to ensure you get a fair settlement or monetary award should your case go to trial. To file a wrongful death lawsuit, you first need to contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer.
Our Miami accidental death lawyers will meet with you for a free consultation in a convenient location, even your home. Our goal is to listen to the events that took place, provide sound legal advice, and make recommendations on how you should proceed.
Specific steps will occur if you have grounds to file a wrongful death claim and want to proceed with a lawsuit. Most importantly, remember there is a statute of limitations of two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file your claim.
Step 1: Gather Evidence
Your legal team will gather evidence to support your claim. This evidence could include accident and injury reports, police reports, and medical records. Furthermore, forensic evidence could be collected, and witnesses contacted to provide statements. You may initially be asked to provide general information to help with this investigation; however, your legal team wants you to take the time to grieve your loss and be with your family.
Step 2: Submit a Demand Package
After the investigation is completed, your lawyers will prepare a demand package. This package will include evidence and documentation to support your wrongful death claim. It will also include a wrongful death settlement request for the amount of monetary compensation you are entitled to receive.
The demand package is sent to the responsible party’s insurance company or legal team. Once they receive it, they will review it and make a determination. At this point, one of several things can occur. They could accept the settlement offer, or they could make a counteroffer. In rare situations, they may attempt to deny culpability.
Step 3: Negotiate
Should the responsible party choose not to accept the demand package and submit a counteroffer, your lawyers will begin the negotiation process. The process continues until all parties agree upon a monetary amount. You have the final say on whether to accept the settlement offer or proceed with the lawsuit and go to trial.
Step 4: Reach a Settlement
Suppose the responsible party accepts the demand package or a wrongful death settlement is reached through negotiation. At this point, your lawyers will review with you the terms and conditions of the settlement. If you agree, you will sign the legal paperwork, and your claim is settled.
Step 5: Go to Trial
In the event a settlement cannot be reached during negotiations, or the responsible party denies culpability, or you do not like the settlement being offered, your case would proceed, and a trial date would be set.
Until a verdict is reached, a settlement could still be reached. If it is, then both legal teams appear in front of the judge and inform the court that a settlement was reached and your case is closed. Otherwise, the trial proceeds until the judge or a jury reaches a verdict.
How long do wrongful death claims take in Florida?
The amount of time needed to reach a wrongful death settlement or verdict in court will vary. There is no set time frame because each wrongful death lawsuit has unique circumstances and impacts on the surviving family.
If the claim can be resolved and a settlement reached, it could range from a few months up to 18 months. If a settlement is not reached and the case proceeds to trial, it could take a year to three years to resolve fully.
It is worth mentioning that the majority of wrongful death lawsuits are settled and never go to trial. It cannot be stressed enough that you should pursue legal action if you have grounds and evidence to support your wrongful death claim.
In the long run, you and your family will be better off financially, even if it takes some time to resolve your case. Your lawyer can also discuss with you the various resources you can rely on as well to help you financially and emotionally.
Wrongful Death FAQs
In this section, we answer some of the frequently asked questions our accidental death lawyers receive. If you do not see your question or answer, do not hesitate to contact our Miami law office directly.
What is wrongful death?
Wrongful death is when a person dies as a result of an accident caused by another person or party. The death could occur immediately or after experiencing severe injuries. Since the actions or inactions of the party resulted in death, the immediate surviving family can seek monetary compensation as allowed under civil laws.
How are wrongful death settlements paid out?
Wrongful death settlements are usually paid through a check issued to yourself and your lawyer. However, the settlement could also be structured, especially when minors are involved, where a portion of the settlement is placed into a trust and funds distributed at set intervals until they reach a certain age.
Any legal fees, outstanding medical bills, funeral expenses, and other outstanding debts incurred during the case are paid and deducted from the proceeds you receive. Furthermore, when there are multiple qualifying beneficiaries, the court will approve the amount of the fund distributed to each person as required by Florida law statutes 768.22 and 768.25.
How much can you sue for in wrongful death?
In Florida, there are no caps on the amount you can sue for in a wrongful death lawsuit. Your claim can include compensatory damages as detailed in Florida law statute 768.21, such as loss of income, financial losses, and loss of companionship. In some instances, where the responsible party’s actions are deemed grossly negligent and egregious, you could also be entitled to receive punitive damages.
Due to the loss of life, wrongful death settlements and verdicts can range from the high tens of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. The amount you are entitled to receive will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. Your lawyer will let you know how much compensation you could receive during your initial consultation.
What is Florida’s Wrongful Death Act?
Florida’s Wrongful Death Act allows the victim’s immediate family to seek compensation for the loss of life as defined in Florida law statute 768.19. This Act allows the surviving party to recover damages when the deceased would have been entitled to seek damages for personal injuries had they not died.
How do I file a wrongful death claim in Florida?
Filing a wrongful death claim in Florida requires the assistance of an experienced accidental death lawyer. It is never recommended and highly discouraged to attempt to negotiate directly with the responsible party’s insurance company, adjuster, or lawyers.
No matter how compassionate and caring these individuals may seem, you must remember that their primary and only goal is to get you to settle for the least amount of money possible. Far too often, surviving family members who do not get legal representation end up with paltry settlements and learn they were entitled to receive a far greater amount later.
Wrongful Death Settlement Lawyers in Miami
Filing a wrongful death claim is complex and requires experienced lawyers familiar with Florida wrongful death laws. If you have further questions or want to find out if you can file a wrongful death claim, do not hesitate to contact one of our accidental death lawyers in Miami at Bernstein & Maryanoff. Our lawyers also work on a contingency basis, which means we do not collect any legal fees unless we reach a settlement or favorable verdict.
FLA. STAT. § 768.19. (2022).
FLA. STAT. § 768.21. (2022).
FLA. STAT. § 768.22. (2022).
FLA. STAT. § 768.25. (2022).