Wrongful Death Actions in Florida

The right to live one’s life until its natural end is a basic human right. Each of us, barring an illness, accident, or natural disaster, expects to live well into out 70s, 80s, or beyond.
The death of a loved one is devastating in any circumstances; but knowing that the death was entirely unnecessary and occurred through no fault of the victim often leaves a family with an overwhelming feeling of injustice. A precious, irreplaceable human life has been stolen by someone else’s wrongful action or omission, leaving survivors to wonder if there is any justice in the world.
Of course no amount of money can provide adequate compensation for the loss of a human life, the law does its best to provide at least a semblance of justice by providing a means for survivors and the estate of the deceased to claim monetary compensation for their damages.

Legal Definition of “Wrongful Death”

While “wrongful death” to the layman may mean any premature death that falls short of the natural life expectancy, the term has a specific meaning in Florida law. When a person’s life is cut short by a preventable accident, medical error, act of violence, or any other event that was caused by the negligence or deliberate act of someone other than the victim, the victim’s estate and surviving family members have a legal cause of action for to recover damages for the death in a Florida wrongful death legal action. Wrongful death cases are governed by Florida’s Wrongful Death Statute, and due to their legal complexity should be pursued only with the assistance of a personal injury attorney with a thorough and nuanced understanding of the law.

The Elements to Be Proved in a Florida Wrongful Death Case

In order to make legally valid wrongful death claim in your behalf, your attorney will need to prove several distinct elements:

  1. The individual or party alleged to be responsible for the death owed a duty of care to the decedent and breached that duty by a wrongful act, failure to act appropriately, or negligence, or that party can be held strictly liable for a defect in a product (in product liability cases or a fatal dog attack).
  2. That the breach of the defendant’s duty of care resulted in the death of the decedent and was the “proximate cause” of the death.
  3. That had the decedent survived, he or she would have been legally entitled to file a lawsuit and recover damages for the injuries.
  4. That the claimants suffered demonstrable damages, financial or intangible, because of the death of the decedent.

If your family is suffering because of the loss of a loved one ̶ whether because of traffic accident, premises accident, workplace accident, medical malpractice, a defective product, a dangerous drug or medical device, neglect or abuse of a child or elder, animal attack, or a deliberate violent act ̶ you should consult a personal injury and wrongful death attorney who will explain your legal options and the process of filing a claim.

Who May Be Entitled to Recover Money in a Florida Wrongful Death Action?

There are two general categories of potential claimants in a Florida wrongful death action:

  1. The decedent’s estate—those who are named as beneficiaries of the decedent’s will. If there is no will, Florida’s laws pertaining to intestacy determine who the heirs are.
  2. The decedent’s survivors, who may or may not include some or all of the heirs entitled to receive assets through the estate. Depending on various circumstances, potential eligible survivors include:
    • A spouse, if any
    • The decedent’s children
    • The decedent’s parents
    • Blood relatives who depended on the decedent for support or services.

Determining who is an eligible survivor can often be extremely complicated, due to the complex nature of families in today’s society and the nuances of the Florida Wrongful Death Statute. Your lawyer will examine the circumstances and relationships of your specific family and will look for ways to fairly compensate any members affected by the loss.

Why You Should Hire a Lawyer to Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida

You may be so overwhelmed with grief that you can’t imagine summoning the effort to file a legal claim, especially considering the intricacies of the law. You may even feel that it is wrong to use the death as a means to receive money. But there are many good reasons to get started immediately and hire an attorney as soon after the death as you can.
Here are just a few:

  1. Making the wrongdoer face the consequences of his or her negligence or wrongdoing and take responsibility for the harm done is the right thing to do—and it may deter the behavior in the future, sparing other families the heartbreak that you are going through.
  2. It can help bring closure and acceptance to a grieving family.
  3. It can help relieve the financial burden that a family is left with when they’ve lost a primary breadwinner.
  4. Your attorney will handle the legal tasks, leaving you and your family the time to grieve and adjust to life without your loved one.

Choosing a Tampa Bay Wrongful Death Attorney

Pursuing a wrongful death action can be a stressful and emotionally demanding process, so it is extremely important that you hire a lawyer who not only Florida’s often confusing wrongful death law, but also one whom you can trust and feel comfortable with. Tampa Bay attorney Stephen Maltezos is an unusually compassionate person who understands how difficult a sudden, premature, and unnecessary death can be for those who are left behind. He is committed to obtaining justice to the full extent allowed by Florida law, while relieving you and your family of the responsibility for handling the complex and time-consuming legal tasks that are required to succeed in winning your claim. He knows that the grieving process takes time, and he is willing to put in the effort on your behalf so that you and your family can focus on the important adjustments that you need to make.
Steve is a master negotiator who can settle most cases out of court; and he is also a skilled trial lawyer, who has a history of favorable jury verdicts for clients, which is important when a trial is necessary to achieve a fair resolution for your case.

Free Legal Consultation

You owe it to yourself and your family to learn about your legal rights following the tragedy of a wrongful death. Steve Maltezos offers a free consultation, without obligation, in which he will review your legal options and answer all of your questions. And you’ll never—ever—pay any legal fees until the day your recovery check arrives at the Maltezos Law Offices. If you don’t receive money, you pay absolutely nothing.
Maltezos Law has offices both Tampa and St. Petersburg for the convenience of clients in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties and the surrounding Tampa Bay area. Florida law places strict limitations on the time you have to file a wrongful death claim, so it is important that you act now. Call Steve Maltezos, a lawyer who understands and can help.