Everything You Need To Know About Florida Wrongful Death Claims

Everything You Need To Know About Florida Wrongful Death Claims

Everything You Need To Know About Florida Wrongful Death Claims

Any accident can rack up thousands of dollars in medical expenses and lost wages, but fatal accidents add on even more burdens. The cost of a funeral. The loss of a parent or spouse’s wages. The time that is needed for grieving.


All of these things are costs related to the death, and they can add up quickly.  If your loved one died due to someone else’s negligence, it may be possible for you to go to court and ask for compensation by filing a wrongful death claim.


What Exactly Is a Wrongful Death Claim?


In short, Florida law allows family members to file a wrongful death claim if a person’s death was “caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract.”


That means wrongful death claims apply both to situations where the decedent was intentionally killed as well as to accidents involving negligence or malpractice.


This type of claim is filed in a civil court for the purpose of seeking out monetary compensation for damages.


Florida also has a similar type of claim called a survival action claim. Survival action claims aim to recover damages on behalf of the deceased party, but do not claim that the deceased passed away due to reckless or intentional actions.


Instead, survival action claims merely ask for damages or wages that the deceased could have recovered if he or she were still alive. Learn more about the difference between these two processes here.


Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida, and What Damages Can You Ask For?


Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida, and What Damages Can You Ask For

The parents, spouses, or children of the deceased can file a wrongful death suit, although things can get tricky if a child wants to file a claim and his or her parents were not married.


If a blood relative or adoptive sibling is “partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support and services,” they may also file a claim.


The damages you are asking for may include:


  • The value of support and services the decedent provided
  • The value of companionship, guidance, and protection the decedent provided
  • The value of mental and emotional pain and suffering from losing a child
  • Medical or funeral expenses that have been paid by the surviving family member
  • Medical or funeral expenses that have been paid by the decedent’s estate
  • The value of wages, benefits, or earnings that the decedent could have expected to make or receive
  • The value of lost “prospective net accumulations” of the estate


The last three are damages that would be rewarded to the decedent’s estate.


What Will I Have to Prove In Court?


Proving negligence in a wrongful death claim is very similar to proving negligence in any other personal injury case. The plaintiff carries the burden of proof, and must prove the following in order to win their case:


  • The defendant owed the victim a reasonable duty of care.
  • The defendant breached his or her duty of care.
  • The breach of duty directly caused the victim’s death.
  • The death directly caused the damages that the plaintiff wants to recover.


Let’s look at the example of a fatal car accident caused by a drunk driver. The family members of the victim could take the driver to court on a wrongful death claim.


As a driver, the defendant owed the victim a reasonable duty of care – they had the duty of driving safely and following the rules of the road. By getting behind the wheel after a few drinks, the defendant breached his or her duty of care.


The plaintiffs would then have to prove that the defendant’s driving caused the accident, that the accident caused the victim’s death, and that the victim’s death caused the damages that the plaintiff has asked for with their wrongful death claim.


Is An Autopsy Required?


Florida does not require an autopsy to be performed in order to file or win a wrongful death suit.


In some situations, like a bad car accident, an autopsy may not be possible, but proving cause of death and the negligence or recklessness of another may still be possible.


In cases where an autopsy can be performed, it may help to confirm the cause of death and further your case.


Do I Need a Lawyer?


Wrongful death claims can be costly and complicated, and the statute of limitations in Florida only gives you four years to file your claim. Hiring an experienced wrongful death attorney can make the entire process go more smoothly because you will have someone on your side who understands how these types of cases work and how best to build your case to win you the compensation that you need and deserve.


Boca Raton Wrongful Death Lawyer


For more information about wrongful death claims, and the case you need to build in order to collect appropriate compensation for your loved one’s death, talk to a Florida wrongful death lawyer today.


About the Author:


Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.

Why You Should Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim

Why You Should Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim

Why You Should Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim

Losing a loved one in an accident is incredibly painful – one that is only made worse by medical bills and unexpected expenses accrued as a result of the accident.


Whether your loved one died as a result of a crash, a workplace injury, mechanical malfunction, or at the hands of another person, you as the surviving family have a right to pursue legal action in many cases. While pursuing compensation for a wrongful death case may seem difficult or disrespectful to the life of your loved one, in reality it may help ease the pain from the expenses and difficulties associated with losing someone so unexpectedly.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?


In cases of wrongful death, where another person or organization is at fault for the death as proven by an investigation, the spouse or next of kin may bring about a wrongful death lawsuit. This means that the death of an individual was caused by the defendant and resulted in monetary difficulties for the surviving family.


In order to maximize the results from a claim such as this, you will need to work with an

experienced personal injury attorney.  He or she will be better able to help you ascertain damages and how best to approach a wrongful death claim.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?


In the state of Florida, next of kin can file a wrongful death claim. In fact, our state actually allows each individual who qualifies as “next of kin” to file a claim against the alleged party, seeking damages for their individual loss due to the death of their loved one.


However, according to Florida law, this only encompasses spouses (husbands or wives) and

minor children. This means that adult children cannot sue for a wrongful death claim in the case of their parents, and divorced spouses or just “partners” cannot sue. There are a couple of other exclusions from this rule (especially in the event that a person has no spouse or children), which your wrongful death attorney will be able to better clarify.

 Boca Raton Wrongful Death Lawyer


What Kinds of Damages Can Be Paid?


You’re probably wondering, as the next of kin, what sort of damages you can ask for in a wrongful death case. This, of course, depends on the type of incident your loved one was involved in, and whether or not it involved a single person, a business, or some larger entity. Most of the time, damages come in the form of:


  • Compensation for funeral and medical expenses
  • Lost income in the amount of (or sometimes even greater than) the deceased’s income
  • Services compensation, which (in Florida) covers living expenses that have been accrued due to the individual’s death (child care needs, housekeeping help, new vehicle, relocation, and so on)
  • Grief and suffering restitution (for example, from the inability to work due to depression)

Extra Factors in a Wrongful Death Claim


Often, a wrongful death claim is associated with another issue, such as a Workers’ compensation claim (injury on the job that led to death), negligence (by an individual or company), drunk driving, or medical malpractice. In these cases, the surviving family members can seek damages that reflect the other extenuating circumstances.



In fact, one of the main reasons people pursue wrongful death claims beyond receiving fair and just compensation is to hold the responsible party accountable or shine light on a dangerous situation that they believe needs to be changed to prevent others from coming to harm. If you are considering filing a claim, a personal injury attorney can help you evaluate the situation surrounding your loved one’s death and decide how to proceed.


About the Author:

Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 22-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.


Do You Have a Wrongful Death Case - 3 Common Example

Do You Have a Wrongful Death Case? 3 Common Examples

Do You Have a Wrongful Death Case - 3 Common Example

When a loved one dies because of another’s carelessness or misconduct, our legal system offers the surviving family members the option to file a wrongful death claim.


What is a wrongful death claim? A wrongful death claim is a civil action, separate from any criminal trial that may or may not be present. While a criminal investigation may arise from the same situation, neither proceeding has any bearing on the other.


These types of claims assert that a life was taken due to the willful or negligent actions of the defendant.  In this case, the “defendant” refers to the person or group of people you believe are responsible for a loved one’s death.


A lawsuit of this nature allows the victim’s estate to recover financial compensation for their loss. Through this suit, survivors can receive monetary reparations for expenses such funeral costs, hospital bills, and lost wages. Though no amount of money can replace a loved one, recompense can help loved ones to avoid financial hardship and get back on their feet.


Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim?


When filing a wrongful death claim, a representative of the deceased person’s estate is chosen. If the victim left a will, they may have already specified a representative of their estate, and the duty would fall on this person. If there is no will, or if no representative was specified, the issue of who will file the claim becomes more complicated.


The laws of the specific relatives who can file a wrongful death claim vary from state to state. In Florida, the laws regarding wrongful death claims can be found in statutes section 768.16.The first right of this duty is offered to the decedent’s spouse. If the decedent was unmarried, or if the spouse is for some reason unable to perform this duty, the representative is chosen by majority vote among the decedent’s heirs. If this is not possible, the court will appoint a representative to file the wrongful death suit on behalf of the beneficiaries.


Common Examples of Wrongful Deaths


Boca Raton Wrongful Death Lawyer


Below are a few common examples that may help you decide if you have a case for wrongful death. These are meant to be general guidelines, and are by no means a comprehensive description of every situation that could be a successful claim. The best way to figure out if you have a strong claim is to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer.


  1. Car Accidents


As one of the of the most common causes of death and injury in America, it’s not surprising that car accidents are also one of the most common sources of wrongful death claims. If the victim was killed in a car accident due to the negligence of another—for example, if a loved one was struck by a driver who was distracted or intoxicated—this could be the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit.


  1. Intentional Killing

As stated above, the criminal proceedings following a death are separate from the civil action of a wrongful death suit. Thus, even if a criminal investigation is being conducted for an intentional murder, the estate of the victim can also sue the guilty party for damages in a separate case. The most recognizable example is the OJ Simpson trial—though Simpson faced criminal charges, he was also sued for the wrongful deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.


  1. Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice asserts that a medical professional—like a doctor, nurse, or surgeon—failed to provide a reasonable standard of care. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the estate asserts that the malpractice of a medical professional resulted in death. This could mean that a doctor failed to diagnose or misdiagnosed a patient’s illness, prescribed the wrong medicine, or was negligent in the level of care and attention they provided.


If you believe a loved one was killed by another’s wrongdoing or negligence, we would like to hear from you. Our law firm has successfully provided compassionate and knowledgeable legal counsel and representation for a number of wrongful death claims in Florida, and we can help you as well.


Everything You Need To Know About Florida Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful Death Versus Survival Action

Wrongful Death Versus Survival Action

The death of a loved one is traumatic and devastating experience— regardless of the cause. However, the ordeal can be especially upsetting if the death could have been avoided had it not been for the negligent actions of another.


In Florida, surviving family members and loved ones may be able to recover compensation for the damages, pain, and suffering associated with an injured party’s death. Typically, there are two different types of claims you can file after the death of a loved one—wrongful death and survival action.


Though wrongful death and survival action claims are sometimes confused, there are several key distinctions.


Wrongful death claims. A wrongful death claim occurs when a person dies as a direct result of another’s reckless, intentional, or negligent conduct. Since the victim is unable to file a claim against the responsible party, certain family members can file a wrongful death claim for emotional grief and other damages suffered. Under Florida’s wrongful death act, the deceased party’s surviving spouses, parents, or children can recover compensation for damages such as loss of financial or parental support, loss of household assistance, and funeral expenses.


In awarding damages in wrongful death cases, the jury will consider factors such as relationship to the deceased party, the value of the decedent’s probable net income, and the replacement value of the deceased party’s services to the survivor.


Survival action claims. Alternatively, the surviving family may choose to file a survival action claim after the death of an injured party. Effectively, a survival action claim is an extension of an already existing legal claim that was already being sought prior to the injured party’s death. Unlike a wrongful death claim, a survival action claim does not identify the death as the direct result of the injury for which damages are sought.


Instead, a survival action claim seeks to recover damages for the substantial pain and suffering the injured party suffered before their death. Damages for survival claims include compensation that the deceased party would have been able to recover had he or she not died before filing a personal injury claim. This could include loss of income, medical expenses, and overall pain and suffering before the time of death. In order to determine the amount of damages owed, the courts may look to factors such as the severity of pain, the duration of suffering, and the apprehension of impending death.


Slip and Fall Accidents

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples. Imagine Mary was involved in a slip-and-fall accident in a supermarket due to a slippery floor. Mary hit her head in the fall, and died two weeks later due to the traumatic brain injury she suffered as a result of the fall. In this scenario, Mary’s surviving spouse, children, or parents could file a wrongful death claim against the supermarket for the losses they suffered as a result of Mary’s death.


Alternatively, let’s say Mary survived her trip-and-fall accident with a broken hip and some nasty bruises. Mary filed a claim against the supermarket to recover compensation for her medical expenses, lost wages, and overall pain and suffering. However, before the claim was resolved, Mary was struck by a car and killed. In this situation, Mary’s surviving family could pursue a survival action claim against the supermarket to recover the compensation Mary would have been able to recover had she survived.


Typically, Florida courts require you to choose between seeking a wrongful death or survival action claim. Talk to a Florida attorney with experience in wrongful death to determine the best option for your unique situation. With the help of a compassionate and experienced attorney, you can pursue the justice the decedent deserved and the compensation you need.


Boca Raton Accident Lawyer

Teen Killed After Being Ejected from Fair

Boca Raton Accident Lawyer
Picture this: your teenager is hanging out with his friends at the local fair, joking around and just being a kid. Despite not doing anything wrong, police and fair officials pay extra attention to him and his friends, seemingly waiting for them to misbehave. After a melee that your son was not involved in, he’s detained by the sheriff’s department, kicked out of the fair, and told to get moving.


An 8th-grade honor student, your son isn’t one to push back against authority, so that’s exactly what he does. Unfortunately, his route on foot forces him to cross four lanes of Interstate 4 traffic, and one car just doesn’t see him in time. He’s struck and killed almost immediately, and you’re left to mourn and wonder how something like this could have happened.


This is exactly what Andrew and Deanna Joseph are going through right now – every parent’s worst nightmare. Day-to-day living is tough. But celebrations like the holidays are worse because those are the times you cherish the most, and now your child won’t get to enjoy them anymore.


Possibly the worst part for the Josephs is knowing their child wouldn’t have been anywhere near that highway if he hadn’t been targeted at the fair and unjustly ejected. Because of this, they’ve decided to sue the Florida State Fair Authority and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for civil rights violations and wrongful death.


Which begs the question: do the actions of the Fair Authority and Sheriff’s Office constitute wrongful death?


What Does Wrongful Death Mean in Florida?


Boca Raton Wrongful Death Attorney

If you look at the letter of the law for Florida wrongful death, it’s tough to say definitively whether or not the Josephs should win their case. The statute says that a wrongful death occurs:


“When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person…and the event would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued, the person or watercraft that would have been liable in damages if death had not ensued shall be liable for damages as specified in this act notwithstanding the death of the person injured, although death was caused under circumstances constituting a felony.”


There seem to be ways to argue the first part. The fair ejecting their son could be construed as a “wrongful act” and arguably constituted “negligence” since they were sending a 14-year-old off on his own without any adult supervision. Doing this led to him crossing the highway and getting hit by a car.


The part where it gets a bit dicey is at the very end: “death was caused under circumstances constituting a felony.” Meeting this part of the law would seem to require a charge of culpable negligence and hinge to a large degree on the ability to show that officials were acting inappropriately when they sent away a minor.


Is it possible to prove something like this in a wrongful death case? Yes. Is it easy? No.


That’s why it is so important to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney if you believe that someone else should be held liable for the death of your loved one. Only someone who has successfully handled these types of cases before can offer you the insight you need – both in deciding to pursue or drop the case and in coming up with a strategy to help you win.


Nothing can bring back the person that you’ve lost, but winning a wrongful death lawsuit can help you to find closure, get back on your feet financially, and enact change so no one else has to go through this again.


Wrongful Death Car Accidents

What You Need to Know about Wrongful Death in Car Accidents

Wrongful Death Car Accidents

Last November, “The Fast and the Furious” actor Paul Walker and former race car driver Roger Rodas lost their lives after crashing a high-performance Porsche in Santa Clarita, California. Although the report from the crash investigation says that the accident was caused by speeding (93 mph), Kristine Rodas is still looking for answers to explain her husband’s death.


Ms. Rodas recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Porsche Cars North America, claiming that her husband’s 2005 Porsche Carrera GT—which is capable of going from 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds and has a top speed of 205 miles per hour—was not equipped with a proper crash cage and safety features in the gas tank that could have saved its occupants’ lives.  The suit also alleges that a mechanical malfunction forced Rodas off the road.


It’s less common to hear about this kind of solo-vehicle wrongful death lawsuit than it is to hear about multi-vehicle accidents in which one driver was clearly reckless or negligent. However, there are legitimate reasons for filing a wrongful death suit in solo-vehicle accident cases: if unsafe road conditions or a manufacturer defect resulted in a fatal accident, then the surviving family of the accident victim has a right to hold the negligent party responsible.


As a Boca Raton wrongful death attorney, I want everyone in my community to understand when they can file a wrongful death suit in a car accident case and what steps they need to take.


Cases in Which a Car Accident Results in Wrongful Death


If you’re considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit after the loss of a loved one in a car accident, the first thing you need to do is determine who was responsible for the accident. Some examples of a negligent party include:


Another driver who was intoxicated, distracted, sleep-deprived, inexperienced, or driving recklessly for another reason
The city or state, if they failed to maintain safe road conditions (e.g. if the city knew about but did not fill in the large pothole that caused your loved one to lose control of their vehicle)
The vehicle manufacturer, if their vehicle contained a defective part such as faulty brakes or failing suspension, and that defective part caused a fatal accident


Cases in Which a Car Accident Results in Wrongful Death
Although there is always an official investigation into fatal car accidents, as there was in the Paul Walker/Roger Rodas case, you may need to hire your own investigative team to determine the cause of the accident.


Initial Steps to Strengthening Your Case


File a wrongful death lawsuit within the statute of limitations. If you suspect that your loved one died as a result of a third party’s negligence, you should contact an experienced attorney and file a lawsuit as soon as possible, in part because it will be easier to reconstruct the accident the sooner you file, and also because you are legally required to make your case within a certain time frame. The statute of limitations for wrongful death cases varies from state to state; in Florida it is two years.


Gather concrete evidence. In some cases, your attorney may hire an investigative team to return to the scene of the evidence to look for things such as skid marks and road flaws. The specialists will likely look closely at the car(s) involved in the accident as well. Meanwhile, your attorney may subpoena footage from traffic cameras, surveillance cameras, or even someone who filmed the accident on their phone, if that sort of evidence is available.
Boca Raton Wrongful Death Lawyer
Interview witnesses. If anyone witnessed the accident, your attorney should meet with them as soon as possible, since memories become faultier with the pass of time.


Present your case in court. You should always have a well-qualified wrongful death attorney represent you in this type of case since so much is at stake, but more so if you are going up against a car manufacturer or insurance company. These organizations will do everything they can to prove your loved one’s actions contributed to the accident, and you’ll need a lawyer who has handled this type of case to counter their arguments and give you the best chance of recovering compensation.


About the Author:

Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 22-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.

wrongful death

When Police Misconduct Leads to Wrongful Death

wrongful death
Not everyone is cut out to be a police officer. The job can involve long hours, lots of stress, and often puts officers in life-threatening situations. However, sometimes it’s not just the stress and danger to law enforcement officials that’s the problem – it’s the behavior of the officers themselves.


Police officers are in a position of power and are armed while on duty. They’re not supposed to use their weapons unless lives are in danger, but there have been many cases reported of officers who have bullied or injured people who have posed no threat. Some of the most recent data available, from the National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project in 2010, shows that there were 6,613 reports of police misconduct and 6,286 alleged victims in just one year. Almost a quarter of those cases involved excessive force, which includes cases where police officers shot someone who didn’t pose a threat.


Family Mourns After Policeman Kills Their Unarmed Son


One of the most recent stories of police misconduct involves an officer in Charlotte, North Carolina shooting and killing Jonathon Ferrell, a 24-year-old former Florida A&M football player who was unarmed. According to Ferrell’s family, the young man had just dropped off a coworker around 2am when he veered off the road and had to kick out his rear window to escape the car.


Ferrell walked to the nearest house seeking help, but the woman on whose door he knocked believed he was trying to break in and called the police. According to police officers at the scene, Ferrell ran at them and one of the officers, Randall Kerrick, shot him 10 times. However, suspicion clouds the two officers’ accounts because Ferrell’s autopsy suggests that he was already on his knees or the ground when Kerrick fired most of his shots. It seems unlikely that Ferrell posed any real threat, and Kerrick is being charged with excessive force and voluntary manslaughter. Ferrell’s family is also suing Kerrick and the police department for wrongful death in the hopes of receiving both monetary compensation and gaining access to answers from the police officers’ dash-cam footage.


Police Need to Be Held Accountable for Excessive Force


wrongful death1

The story of Jonathon Ferrell’s death is tragic in its own right, and what makes it even worse is that it’s not an isolated incident. Police misconduct and brutality is reported all over the country every year, and according to a study summarized by the organization Stop Police Brutality, two of the areas with the highest misconduct rates are in Florida (Jacksonville, with 1.3% of their officers being charged with misconduct, and Palm Beach County, with 3.52%). While these rates show that the vast majority of police officers are able to handle the responsibilities of their jobs, the idea that almost four out of every 100 officers will wrongfully injure or even kill someone is unacceptable.


Whenever someone is in a position of power, they need to be held to a high level of accountability for their actions. Those police officers who are caught abusing their power are generally charged with a criminal offense, but it’s highly likely that police misconduct is underreported and that a number of officers get away with improper behavior every year. Our country needs to make an example of officers who use excessive force in order to discourage it from continuing. If someone you love has been wrongfully killed or injured by a police officer, contact a personal injury attorney who can help you review the case and discuss your options.


About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 22-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.

Boca Raton Pedestrian Killed Crossing Street

A Boca Raton woman was killed recently when crossing the street. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence or recklessness of another, a wrongful death lawyer can help you to pursue justice on behalf of the deceased, as well as any financial remuneration that may be available to compensate not only the emotional but the financial loss you have suffered. Obviously, no wrongful death lawyer assumes that pursuing such compensation will assuage your grief, but it can help you and your family to find resolution and to know that you will not be flung into financial duress because of the loss of your loved one.


The recent accident in Boca Raton occurred when a 46-year-old woman was attempting to cross the street and was struck by a vehicle driven by a 20-year-old female. The pedestrian was taken to Delray Medical Center where she later died. According to the police report, the investigation into the accident was ongoing. Whether your loved one was the victim of a wrongful death caused by a car accident or from some other incident, your wrongful death lawyer will fully evaluate the case and will help you to pursue whatever damages you may be due.


If you and your family are grieving the untimely and unjust loss of a loved one, contact a Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer at the Law Offices of The South Florida Injury Law Firm. Your lawyer will have the expertise to handle your case with sensitivity and compassion while aggressively pursuing the justice you and your family may be due. Contact the Law Offices of The South Florida Injury Law Firm today.


When you need a Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer, the Law Offices of The South Florida Injury Law Firm are located in Fort Lauderdale, FL and handle cases throughout the state, including Broward County, Indian River, Okeechobee, Delray Beach, Martin County, Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, and all other cities and counties. We have years of experience and success in handling cases like yours. Contact us for a free case evaluation at 954.764.7377 or via the web at https://southfloridainjurylawfirm.com.