How To Navigate the Legal Process of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida
The loss of a loved one is always a tragic event.
Whether they lived a long, happy, and productive life or were taken away suddenly, the pain of loss is equal. However, when we lose a loved one due to the neglect of someone else, it adds another layer of unfathomable emotions.
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit won’t change what happened, but it does have some benefits. It could bring much-needed emotional closure and help loved ones to move forward. It could also ensure that those who were financially dependent on the deceased have one less worry. Those in the Sunshine State should contact a Miami wrongful death lawyer to learn about what rights they have as a victim.
What Is the Florida Wrongful Death Act
The Florida State Wrongful Death Act is complex and a wrongful death lawsuit should only be filed by a competent attorney. Without the help of a personal injury attorney, filing a wrongful death lawsuit would prove to be far too difficult for the average layperson.
Florida law states that a wrongful death occurs if a person or an entity causes someone’s death due to a wrongful act or negligence. Although this has a wide range of interpretations, there are certain circumstances where it’s applicable. Most wrongful deaths occur in the following ways:
● A negligent incident such as a car accident
● Medical malpractice
● Defective products
● Intentionally or unintentionally during the committing of a crime
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida?
If the deceased person had a legal will, the person who was named their executor would be the one to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This would be either for themselves or on behalf of the deceased’s family. In Florida, there are 3 requirements as to who can be the deceased personal representative. The requirements are:
● Be at least 18 years of age
● Be of sound mind
● Not have a felony conviction
If the deceased individual didn’t have a will with an executor named, another person can act as their representative and file the lawsuit. This person is typically:
● The spouse or legal partner of the deceased
● A child of the deceased, either a minor or adult
● A parent of the deceased
How To File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida
First, you’ll need to hire a lawyer who has experience with wrongful death lawsuits. A case of this nature should never be filed without proper legal counsel. Although each case is unique, here’s a loose outline of what to expect:
● Filing the lawsuit – Once you’ve selected a lawyer and given them all of the evidence required to prove neglect, they will file the lawsuit with the court. The defendant or defendants will be officially notified of the lawsuit.
● The Discovery phase – During this phase, both sets of legal teams (plaintiff and defendant) will meet on several occasions to exchange information. This phase can be time-consuming and can include depositions with witnesses and others who can provide an expert opinion.
● Pre-trial settlement or pre-trial motions – Many wrongful death lawsuits never go to trial. Sometimes during the discovery phase, mediators or arbitrators are brought in to help avoid a costly and lengthy trial. If a settlement is made, the case ends there. If not, it will go to trial.
● Trial and verdict – If your case does go to trial, you’ll have the option of choosing between a jury trial or one where the judge alone makes the decision. If your case is successful, you’ll either be awarded a settlement or the defendant will appeal the case.
A judge or a jury trial is always a risky matter because even if it goes well and you win the case, the defendant has the right to appeal. This will result in a new trial and could add months or longer to the lawsuit. Fortunately, a large number of wrongful death cases are settled during the discovery phase.
Final Thoughts on Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Saying goodbye to a loved one is never pleasant. It’s even worse when their death was caused by neglect, either intentional or not. Working with a Florida personal injury attorney can help you to gain some closure and also to be compensated for any damages.
A wrongful death lawsuit can be a complicated and complex maze to weave. Patience is key, but under the guidance of your lawyer, it could be time well spent. Never attempt to file a lawsuit of this nature alone. Let the experts guide you and allow them to do what they do best.