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What Makes a Fatal Auto Accident A Wrongful Death?

September 20, 2023 Legal Team
flowers on a cemetery that says. "in loving memory" with the caption: seek justice for your loved one

An auto accident becomes a wrongful death when the wrongful or negligent acts of another person cause the sudden and unexpected death of a family member or loved one. A wrongful death lawsuit is a claim for compensation against the at-fault driver’s insurance company for damages incurred as a result of your loved one’s passing.

A Wrongful Death Lawsuit is a Civil Claim

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit against a negligent party or wrongdoer. It does not involve the criminal courts, a criminal case, or criminal punishment.

Some wrongful death lawsuits may involve more than one negligent party. These include commercial truck claims where trucking companies, cargo loaders, truck owners, and maintenance facilities may be responsible for a fatal accident.

Wrongful death auto accidents may also include lawsuits where pedestrians or cyclists are killed as a result of a driver’s negligence.

Proving a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

To prove a wrongful death lawsuit a victim’s family members must prove the driver of a vehicle was negligent or reckless. Examples of negligent or reckless behaviors include:

  • Reckless or distracted driving;
  • Driving with a revoked or suspended driver’s license;
  • Drunk driving; and
  • Failure to follow traffic laws and regulations.

All drivers on Florida roads and highways owe a duty of care to others. Any of the above is a breach of a motorist’s duty of care. In addition to proving a driver breached their duty of care to others, a family member must prove that this breach caused the victim’s death and the victim suffered damages as a result.

What are Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful death damages include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages (where available). Economic damages are billable costs associated with a motor vehicle accident such as:

  • Loss of a loved one’s income;
  • Funeral expenses;
  • Any pre-death hospital, medication, or treatment expenses; and
  • Loss of household or child care services provided by the deceased.

Costs may also be sought for out-of-pocket expenses like property damage and lost wages. Non-economic damages for the deceased are for the mental and emotional trauma due to the loss of a loved one along with:

  • Loss of consortium;
  • Loss of companionship; and
  • Loss of counsel or guidance.

While many people suffer from a family member or loved one’s death, Florida statute defines who can sue on behalf of the deceased.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Florida allows those directly related to the deceased to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This includes the deceased’s estate, spouse, children, or relatives.

Friends may not file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Is There a Deadline to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Florida has a two-year statute of limitations or deadline to file a wrongful death case. The two years start from the deceased’s date of death.

Any lawsuits filed outside of this time will be barred from monetary compensation.

Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney Today

To learn more about wrongful death claims in Florida and whether you qualify to file a wrongful death lawsuit, contact an experienced attorney at Shapiro l Delgado l Hofmann. Our attorneys are skilled and knowledgeable in all areas of auto accident personal injuries including wrongful death claims.

Do not let an insurance company dictate what your claim is worth and whether you are eligible for damages. Let Shapiro l Delgado l Hofmann battle for the compensation you and your loved one deserve for accident-related pain and suffering and monetary losses.

Contact the wrongful death attorneys at Shapiro l Delgado l Hofmann in Sarasota and Bradenton now to schedule your no-obligation consultation. Your consultation is complimentary, and we only get paid when we recover compensation for you.