If one party injures another party in Northeast Florida, it can form the foundation of a personal injury claim. The purpose of a personal injury claim is for the victim to hold the at-fault party accountable for the harm they have done and to secure compensation for the victim’s losses. However, while most personal injury victims in the Orange Park area will eventually recover from their experiences, this is not true for every victim. When a victim of any personal injury dies because of the actions of another party, this can lead to a wrongful death claim.
A wrongful death claim is a type of civil suit that, while functionally similar to a personal injury claim in many procedural respects, bears several unique differences that you need to understand if you intend to pursue this type of case. If you believe you have grounds to file a wrongful death suit on behalf of a recently deceased loved one in North Florida, it is crucial to know the procedural rules you must follow for the case and the value of having legal counsel you can trust available to guide you.
Spohrer Dodd Trial Attorneys is a team of experienced North Florida attorneys with years of successful civil cases behind us. We have helped many past clients recover from all types of personal injuries and know how to develop a comprehensive wrongful death suit. If you believe another party in the Orange Park area is responsible for causing your loved one’s recent death, it is vital to consult with a trustworthy attorney as quickly as possible. If you have grounds to file a wrongful death claim, you must do so quickly, but it is important to approach this process with an understanding of what your case will entail.
Most of the wrongful death claims filed in Northeast Florida result from acts of negligence. A few common examples of how wrongful deaths might occur include:
Proving negligence in a wrongful death claim requires evidence that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care, failed to uphold that duty of care in some manner, and directly caused the death. Alternatively, it is also possible for a wrongful death to result from illegal and intentional misconduct. Drunk driving and violent crime are the most common examples of this.
If the defendant caused a wrongful death through illegal action, they not only face a wrongful death suit for the civil damages they caused but also criminal prosecution from the state. The penalties for breaking any law in North Florida will increase dramatically when the defendant has caused bodily harm or death to a victim, potentially including years in state prison.
Filing a wrongful death claim requires meeting specific procedural requirements that do not apply to standard personal injury claims. For example, a personal injury claim is generally filed by the victim, whereas a wrongful death claim must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate under state law. If the deceased had an estate plan at the time of their death and named an executor or other personal representative, this individual will have the sole right and responsibility of filing a wrongful death suit. If the deceased did not have an estate plan and/or did not name a personal representative, the court will assign one, usually their surviving spouse or child, if their child is old enough to handle this responsibility.
The party filing the wrongful death suit must name all the deceased’s beneficiaries in the claim, and the proceeds of a successful wrongful death claim are distributed to these beneficiaries according to the state’s law of intestate succession. The victim’s surviving spouse and children are the primary beneficiaries, followed by other close family if the deceased did not have a spouse or children.
It’s possible for the family of the victim to recover compensation for the lost financial support the deceased provided and/or lost value of household services, damages incurred by the estate of the deceased, and compensation for their pain and suffering. If the defendant caused the death through some illegal act, punitive damages could also factor into the family’s final case award. When you choose Spohrer Dodd Trial Attorneys to manage your wrongful death claim in North Florida, we will do everything we can to maximize your case award in the most efficient manner possible. The sooner you reach out to our team, the sooner we can get started on your case.
A: The average person might be able to account for immediately recognizable damages they can claim in a wrongful death case, such as funeral and burial expenses and the cost of the deceased’s final medical expenses. However, calculating the long-term damages they can claim can be more challenging. Your Orange Park wrongful death attorney can help the family of the deceased recover compensation for lost financial support, lost value of household services, and their pain and suffering. The exact value of your impending wrongful death claim could amount to much more than you initially expect if you have the right attorney handling your case.
A: Success with your wrongful death claim requires accurate identification of the party or parties you believe to be responsible for the death. Next, the plaintiff must present evidence and testimony showing that the defendant or defendants directly caused the death in question through some form of negligence or intentional misconduct. The exact method you must use to prove fault for a wrongful death will differ based on the specific details of the case.
A: There is a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death cases in Florida. The personal representative of the deceased must file their claim within two years of the date of the death; otherwise, they lose the ability to claim compensation from the defendant. The exception would be if the death occurred from murder or manslaughter. The statute of limitations is lifted for such cases, and a wrongful death claim can be filed at any time.
A: It is technically possible to file a wrongful death suit without hiring an attorney. However, success with this claim on your own is likely to be far more difficult than you are prepared to face, especially while struggling with the grief of your loved one’s death. Hiring an experienced Orange Park wrongful death attorney to help you not only makes facing your proceedings easier but also increases your chances of success with the claim.
A: It’s understandable to have concerns about the potential cost of legal representation if you are already faced with the economic impact of the wrongful death in your family. The majority of personal injury and wrongful death attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis. This means the client does not pay anything upfront, nor are they required to pay ongoing fees for legal representation. Instead, the client pays a percentage of their final case award to their attorney upon winning their case. If the attorney is unable to secure compensation on their behalf for any reason, the client pays nothing.
Spohrer Dodd Trial Attorneys has helped many past clients navigate the complex legal proceedings that their wrongful death claims have entailed. We know the emotional strain and the legal challenges these cases often present and are firmly confident in our ability to fluently resolve the most complex cases. Time is a critical concern for anyone intending to file a wrongful death claim, so contact us today and schedule your free consultation with an Orange Park wrongful death attorney to learn more about how we can empower your recovery efforts.