It is always traumatic when a loved one unexpectedly passes away. However, when the death was caused by the fault or negligence of another person, it can be even more difficult for surviving family members.
In Florida, when a wrongful death has occurred, those family members may be able to sue the negligent parties for compensation. When they do, they will need a Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyer who can advance a strong and compelling case. Leveraging decades of experience litigating these complicated and emotionally-charged claims, the attorneys of Kogan & DiSalvo are well-equipped to help those who have unjustly lost family members.
When you need compassionate, one-on-one guidance after the wrongful death of a loved one, you can count on our dedicated professionals. A skilled injury lawyer in Ft Lauderdale can hold responsible parties accountable and aggressively pursue the full money damages to which you are entitled.
The repercussions of losing the family’s breadwinner or main income provider can be devastating. We are proud to offer our legal services on a contingency basis, meaning there are no attorneys’ fees unless a monetary recovery is made. Reach out today for a free consultation.
Understanding Wrongful Death in Florida
Florida Statute § 768.19 defines wrongful death as the following: the death of a person caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters. When a wrongful death occurs, eligible family members of the decedent – or the person who died – may file a civil lawsuit for compensation.
A wrongful death claim can only be filed by the decedent’s personal representative to the estate. This is typically a family member or person who is named in the decedent’s will. In the absence of a will, the personal representative is usually appointed by a probate judge. The personal representative of the victim’s estate will file a claim on behalf of any survivors recognized by state legislation.
Who Can Recover Damages in a Wrongful Death Suit
Florida’s Wrongful Death Act allows the surviving spouse, parents, children, and blood relatives and adoptive siblings who are dependent on the decedent for support or services to seek compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Accidents in Florida
The majority of wrongful death lawsuits in Florida stem from either negligence or breach of duty. While the at-fault party may not have caused injury intentionally, their actions and misconduct resulted in an accidental – and preventable – fatality.
Here are some of the most common causes of wrongful death accidents in Florida.
Motor vehicle accidents
Every day, hundreds of Floridians are involved in serious vehicle collisions. When motorists disregard laws and cause a fatal crash, a car accident lawyer at Kogan & DiSalvo can seek appropriate damages for a wrongful death. Our attorneys have successfully handled fatal accident cases attributed to driver intoxication, distraction, aggression, and recklessness.
We have also pursued wrongful death claims caused by highway construction, defective vehicle parts, and unsafe road conditions.
Our legal team conducts a thorough investigation to determine responsible parties. We often work with accident reconstruction specialists who can confirm the mechanisms of the collision and resulting injuries. While we strive to reach a fair settlement with the at-fault party or their insurance company, we prepare every case for trial, and will take your claim before a jury if need be.
We rely on doctors and other medical practitioners to give us a certain standard of care. Treatment that falls below the standard of care and results in injury or death can constitute medical malpractice, also known as medical negligence. A report issued by Johns Hopkins University indicates that some 250,000 people in the nation die every year from medical mistakes.
Surgical errors, delayed or incorrect diagnoses, and medication mistakes are common examples of medical malpractice that can lead to a wrongful death.
Under the Florida Wrongful Death Act 768.16, if malpractice causes death, certain relatives can file suit for compensation. Claims may be brought against negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, as well as the hospital or facility that employed the defendant.
Accidents in the workplace
Workplace accidents can happen in any kind of setting, but fatal injuries are more prevalent in certain industries where staff are working with heavy equipment, dangerous machinery, or at heights. There are various circumstances where an employer or business owner may be held liable for a fatal workplace accident.
Though not an exhaustive list, the following workplace accidents are the most commonly reported and the most likely to result in life-threatening harm. Structural collapse, machine malfunction or entanglement, slips, trips, and falls, explosions or fires, and transportation-related accidents.
Defective drugs and/or products
Manufacturers have a legal duty to ensure their products are safe for their intended purpose, come with proper warnings of all potential side effects and risks, and are free of design or manufacturing defects. When this duty is breached and consumers are fatally injured, this can give rise to a wrongful death claim. Pharmaceutical companies make billions each year selling prescription medications, but many drugs reach the marketplace without rigorous testing or with misleading information.
Whether your loved one paid the ultimate price for a defective drug, medical device, or a faulty brake, the law affords remedies. If you’re looking for a wrongful death attorney Fort Lauderdale residents trust, reach out to Kogan & DiSalvo for a complimentary consultation.
In 2021, nearly 6,400 bicycle accidents were reported in Florida. Many of these crashes occurred right here in Broward County, and some even proved fatal. According to data from the US Department of Transportation, Florida has more bicycle accident deaths than any other state in the country. Roughly half of the state’s bicycle accidents with vehicles are attributed to driver inattention or negligence.
When a loved one is killed in a bicycle accident caused by negligence, you have the right to seek recourse for your losses, including pain and suffering. Improve your chances of success by working with a Kogan & DiSalvo attorney who is experienced in wrongful death cases.
Construction sites in Southeast Florida are some of the most dangerous places to work. Equipment failures, scaffolding collapses, crane accidents, and falls are responsible for serious injuries and deaths every year. The construction industry accounts for 20 percent of all workplace fatalities in the U.S.
If your loved one died in a construction accident, Florida law allows eligible family members to apply for worker’s compensation death benefits. Speak to our attorneys about your right to bring a wrongful death claim for additional monetary reparations.
Fatal pedestrian accidents are an increasing problem throughout Florida. The state has implemented numerous strategies to reduce needless deaths, but despite concerted efforts, the death toll hit 899 last year. Unfortunately, the lion’s share of these fatalities is caused by driver negligence. Motorists who take their eyes off the road, blow through traffic lights and intersections, and fail to yield the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks can be held liable when a wrongful death results.
If a negligent driver struck and killed your loved one, our attorneys can help you navigate the legal process and demand full compensation from liable parties.
Nursing home abuse
At Kogan & DiSalvo, our legal team has experience helping those who have lost elders due to nursing home abuse and neglect. Wrongful death in an assisted living care facility can happen in a number of ways, but these are some of the most common:
- Untreated wounds and bedsores
- Medication errors
- Health complications caused by medical negligence
- Falls due to inadequate supervision, environmental hazards, changes in medication, or insufficient mobility aids
Slip and fall injuries
Injuries resulting from slip and falls remain a leading cause for death in Florida’s elderly population. But it’s not just seniors who are vulnerable. In any given year, between 700-900 people die in fatal workplace accidents involving falls.
A fall can result in long-term disability or fatal injuries in a split second, and when negligence is a factor, the victim’s loved ones may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim.
The sudden loss of a family member due to another’s misconduct is never easy to bear. An experienced attorney can provide invaluable support during these challenging times.
Potential Compensation in a Wrongful Death Suit
The Wrongful Death Act in Florida states that surviving family members may seek compensation for the deceased’s wrongful death. However, the only person who can legally file a wrongful death suit is the representative (also known as the executor) of the deceased’s estate. The representative must be a resident of Florida, have a vested interest in the estate, and not be under any legal disability.
In cases where no will has been created, or no personal representative has been designated within the will, the courts will typically allow the spouse of the deceased to file a claim.
A wrongful death claim in Florida can seek monetary damages for the following types of losses:
- Mental pain and suffering of surviving spouse, children and/or parents
- Any medical and/or funeral expenses survivors incurred
- Loss of companionship and protection for a surviving spouse
- The value of lost support and services, including household chores from the date of the decedent’s passing
- The loss of instruction, guidance, and companionship to children of the decedent.
- Loss of financial support for any dependents who relied on the decedent
When determining how much compensation to award, the courts will look at the relationship with the deceased person, the life expectancies of both the deceased and surviving family members, and the net income of the deceased before they passed away.
As survivors seek justice for the needless loss of a loved one, they should first speak to a wrongful death lawyer Fort Lauderdale has come to respect. Here at Kogan & DiSalvo, we are passionate about helping clients rebuild their lives, and work tirelessly to create an attentive and supportive environment as we pursue maximum damages for the wrongful death of your loved one.
Compensation for the Estate
In Fort Lauderdale, it is not only surviving family members who may claim compensation, but also the decedent’s estate. The estate includes any assets that belonged to the deceased and were in their name alone. This compensation will go directly back into the estate, and not to surviving family members. This compensation may include:
- Any funds the deceased would have left to the estate
- Medical or funeral expenses associated with the death that were paid by the estate
- Lost earnings the deceased would have made throughout their remaining lifetime
Survival actions can also be made on behalf of the estate. These are actions that will provide a continuance for any personal injury lawsuit the deceased had filed before their death. However, if that personal injury eventually contributed to the deceased’s death, a survival action cannot be made. Such elements can be best explained by our attorneys during a one-on-one consultation.
Stages of a Wrongful Death Suit
After a wrongful death in Florida, there is a process for seeking civil damages.
- Contact a wrongful death lawyer who has proven experience handling these types of cases in Broward County and Florida. Your attorney will evaluate the circumstances of the case, explain applicable deadlines for seeking compensation, and identify all potentially liable parties.
- Independent investigations are conducted by your attorney. They will obtain the official death certificate from the Department of Health, and review all medical records provided. The evidence-gathering phase may last several weeks or months.
- Notify the defendants about your intentions. Your lawyer will notify all potential defendants about your intention to pursue legal damages. Settlement negotiations often begin with defendants before a formal wrongful death lawsuit is even filed. Once both sides have had a chance to see the evidence gathered, negotiations will usually commence.
- If a settlement offer is deemed fair and appropriate to the survivors and estate, the claim is resolved without further action. By agreeing to a settlement, the personal representative of the estate waives all rights to pursue further compensation.
- The next step is formal litigation if negotiations are not successful. A lawsuit is filed, and Discovery is conducted, where both sides must present evidence to the other. A wrongful death settlement can still be reached at any point; otherwise, the case will go to trial.
- The case is tried before a court. The judge and/or jury will hear both sides, weigh all evidence presented, and listen to expert testimony before rendering a decision, or verdict.
Proving Negligence in a Wrongful Death Claim
To prevail in a wrongful death claim in Florida, your lawyer must prove the following elements:
- Duty of Care – The at-fault party owed the decedent a duty of care. This duty depends on the relationship between the defendant and decedent as well as the unique circumstances of the case. If the plaintiff is alleging that the defendant was acting negligently while driving, they could argue that they breached their duty of care to refrain from actions that could injure another person.
- Breach of Duty – Evidence must be presented that the defendant breached their duty of care. In the above example, this could be cell phone records that show the driver was texting at the time of the accident, or a BAC test that indicates they were legally intoxicated while driving.
- Causation – Proving that the defendant’s actions and breach of duty was the cause of the decedent’s injuries and resulting death.
- Damages – In wrongful death claims, your legal counsel must demonstrate that the decedent’s death caused measurable financial injuries as well as less tangible losses like emotional suffering to the family members or the victim’s estate.
Importance of a Fort Lauderdale Wrongful Death Attorney
Although they may seem fairly straightforward at first, wrongful death cases in Florida can quickly become complicated. Insurance companies will go to great lengths to minimize their liability, undermine your claims, or offer lowball settlements. All of this can make the entire process even more difficult for grieving family members who do not have a skilled personal injury lawyer by their side.
The legal team at Kogan & DiSalvo can shield your family from the hassle and pressures of litigation as we work to secure justice on your behalf. We handle all communication with insurance companies, ensure documents are filed within state deadlines, and marshal compelling evidence to craft a solid and winning case.
If you have lost a loved one, and you believe it was due to someone else’s negligence, contact a Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyer at Kogan & DiSalvo today. The initial consultation is free, and we look forward to helping your family.