Fort Lauderdale Wrongful Death Attorney

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Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyerIn the heart of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, we understand the profound grief and heartache that can accompany the sudden loss of a loved one. No family should ever go through such a tragic ordeal, especially when negligence is at the root of the problem. That’s why, as your dedicated Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyers, we are here for you during these challenging times.

At Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys, we offer compassionate understanding and unwavering legal counsel to pursue justice for your family. We are devoted to being your advocates, whether it is a fatal accident crossing NW 2nd Ave to catch a train at the Brightline Fort Lauderdale Station or a tragic motorbike crash on I-95 while returning home from a Coral Ridge Concert Series event.

If you are in such a scenario, please get in touch with an experienced wrongful death attorney at Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys for a free consultation. We value your peace of mind.

How Often Do Wrongful Deaths Occur in Fort Lauderdale, Florida?

Accidental or unintentional deaths sadly happen more frequently than people might realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), accidental injuries are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. There were 24.8 million doctor visits, 25.5 million emergency room visits for unintentional injuries in 2021, and 224,935 fatalities.

As experienced wrongful death lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, we know these accidents can result from various causes, including motor vehicle accidents, falls, and poisoning. In 2021, there were 44,686 deaths from unintentional falls, 45,404 motor vehicle and traffic fatalities, and 102,001 poisonings.

What Is a 'Wrongful Death' Claim and How Do They Work?

As Fort Lauderdale wrongful death attorneys we are often asked “what is a wrongful death claim?” A wrongful death claim is a legal action brought by a deceased person’s family or loved ones who died due to another party’s willful carelessness or unlawful conduct. A wrongful death claim differs from a personal injury claim in that the injuries experienced were so severe that they resulted in the victim’s premature death or the victim died due to a lack of proper treatment to survive an injury.

It is critical to understand the difference between wrongful death claims and criminal cases, notably murder. Wrongful death claims are legal lawsuits that pursue compensation and accountability for the error or wrongdoing that resulted in the death. Murder, on the other hand, involves acts committed with the intent to take someone’s life and is a criminal violation that may result in jail.

Wrongful death lawsuits involve various events, from medical misconduct to tragic vehicle accidents. The legal framework against carelessness is universal, regardless of whether the responsibility is with a person, an organization, or a medical practitioner. A criminal investigation is not required to file a wrongful death claim, and vice versa. Accidents that result in wrongful death lawsuits include but are not limited to:

A wrongful death lawsuit allows surviving family members to fight for justice and financial compensation, providing some peace in the face of their heartbreaking loss.

How Do I Know If I Have a Wrongful Death Claim in Fort Lauderdale, Florida?

To determine if you have a legitimate wrongful death claim in Fort Lauderdale, you must understand the main factors stated in Florida Statute 768.17, generally known as Florida’s Wrongful Death Act. This act reflects the state’s public policy of shifting the financial damages caused by wrongful deaths from the deceased’s survivors to the party at blame. To determine the chances of success of your wrongful death claim, you or your wrongful death attorney in Fort Lauderdale need to look at the four fundamental elements:

Negligence

Evidence of negligence, or failure to exercise reasonable care, is essential to a wrongful death claim. In situations like vehicle accidents, negligence can be proven when the at-fault party fails to act as a reasonably sensible person would. Rear-end crashes, for example, frequently indicate carelessness on the side of the driver of the rear vehicle. In medical malpractice cases, negligence happens when a healthcare professional violates the accepted standard of care, demonstrating a level of carelessness that exceeds that of a reasonably cautious doctor.

Death

Proving the cause of death in a wrongful death lawsuit is usually simple. The attention moves to the cause of death, which must be related to the liable party’s irresponsible acts.

Causation

As Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyers, we can tell you that the key to success is demonstrating that negligence directly caused or actively contributed to the death. While the connection may be evident in some situations, such as vehicle accidents, it can be more complicated in others. When a pharmacist’s prescription mistake is involved, showing that it directly caused the decedent’s death may need expert medical testimony. Similarly, if you’re the victim of a bus accident, crash reconstruction specialists may be required to figure out the cause.

Standing to Sue

Only a handful of people have legal standing to file a wrongful death case under the Florida Wrongful Death Act. This usually includes the decedent’s survivors, such as their spouse, children, or parents. The decedent’s estate may also sue, but the claim must be presented entirely by the estate’s representative, who acts on behalf of both the estate and the survivors.

A wrongful death lawsuit is worth pursuing if you can prove all four factors. Following a wrongful death, connecting with an experienced wrongful death attorney in Fort Lauderdale as soon as possible is essential. This assures that vital evidence gets preserved and your rights get protected. Delaying this step may jeopardize your case.

What Relatives Can File a Fort Lauderdale Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In Fort Lauderdale, the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit is granted to the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. This personal representative may have been designated by the dead during their lifetime, such as in a will or estate plan, or appointed by the court if no such designation exists.

While the personal representative starts the wrongful death claim, it’s vital to remember that any compensation acquired through the suit is meant for the deceased’s survivors and dependents. When filing the lawsuit, the personal representative or their wrongful death lawyer in Fort Lauderdale must name any survivors with a legal interest in the case and may be entitled to a portion of the compensation granted. As part of the deceased’s estate, these damages will be distributed per Florida inheritance rules, ensuring that the closest family members are well cared for in matters relating to the wrongful death claim. This legal structure is designed to protect the interests of surviving family members and dependents who may have suffered financial hardship as a result of the death of a loved one.

What Are Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases in Florida?

Wrongful death lawsuits in Florida can come from various events, each with its variables and causes. The following are some of the most typical examples of these types of cases our wrongful death attorneys in Fort Lauderdale see:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents, including car crashes, motorcycle accidents, 18-wheeler accidents, and pedestrian accidents, are among Florida’s leading causes of wrongful death. In Broward County, for instance, the statistics show that fatal motor vehicle accidents have unfortunately taken a toll on the community. According to the Florida Department of Health, Broward County reported 331 fatal motor vehicle accidents with a rate of 16.4 per 100,000 people, emphasizing the importance of addressing negligence and reckless behavior on the roads.

Medical Malpractice

Medical errors and negligence in healthcare settings can lead to wrongful deaths. A study from Johns Hopkins Medicine says that medical mistakes are now the third-largest cause of death in the United States. This includes situations where doctors, nurses, or medical facilities fail to provide adequate care, resulting in patient death or injury. Over an eight-year study, Johns Hopkins Medicine found that medical errors cause more than 250,000 deaths yearly.

Workplace Accidents

Florida’s private construction industry sector, in particular, has seen many fatal work injuries, with 315 in 2021. In the nation, there were 5,190 fatal work injuries reported, and this was a 9% increase from 2020. Workplace accidents, especially in high-risk industries like construction, can result from inadequate safety measures, inadequate training, or equipment malfunctions. These incidents can lead to fatal outcomes, making it essential to address workplace safety and hold responsible parties accountable.

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Nursing home residents are vulnerable to abuse and neglect, which can have dire consequences, including wrongful death. Families trust nursing homes to provide appropriate care for their loved ones, which can result in tragedy when this trust is betrayed. Recognizing the signs of nursing home abuse and negligence and taking legal action is crucial to protect vulnerable residents.

Medical Malpractice Fatalities and Florida's 'Free Kill' Law

In Florida, wrongful death lawsuits, particularly those involving medical misconduct, are distinct from those in many other jurisdictions, owing to a clause known as the “free kill” loophole. When medical misconduct causes the loss of a loved one, this legal gap limits the ability of some family members to pursue wrongful death claims.

Florida law’s “free kill” gap limits the ability to file non-economic damage claims in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits. In such instances, the law specifically enables only the decedent’s surviving spouse and/or children under 25 to claim damages. Because of this limitation, there may be no legal recourse for unlawful deaths when the dead had no spouse or minor children under 25.

HB 6011, a bipartisan bill, attempted to solve this issue by allowing parents of unmarried, childless adult children over 25 to file non-economic damage claims in medical malpractice wrongful death cases. The bill intended to remove the “free kill” loophole, which, as it currently stands, could incentivize doctors to let some patients die rather than save them, as the patient’s family may have no legal recourse in the case of death.

While HB 6011 got considerable support in the Florida House of Representatives, its Senate equivalent, SB 262, failed in the Senate Rules Committee due to a lack of traction. However, politicians in Florida continue to push for the rights of families in these circumstances, as seen by SB 690, a legislative initiative to address this issue and close the “free-kill” loophole.

It’s worth noting that Florida is the only state in the country that handles medical malpractice wrongful death cases in this style, making it a distinct and controversial component of the state’s legal environment. Advocates and politicians in Florida are dedicated to securing justice and compensation for families who have lost loved ones due to medical malpractice, and they are actively working to address this issue in the legislative arena.

How Does Compensation Work in a Fort Lauderdale Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Compensation in Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawsuits is controlled by Florida Statute 768.21, which specifies how surviving family members are entitled to damages for their losses caused by a loved one’s tragic death. Compensation may encompass economic and non-economic damages, and it is intended to give relief to individuals who rely on the deceased person for various support and services.

Under Florida Statute § 768.21, compensation for “lost support and services” is critical to wrongful or accidental death claims. As skilled Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyers, we see these losses can take various forms, including:

  • Financial Support – This covers the deceased’s income, earnings, and help to their family members if they had lived.
  • Emotional Support – Family members may also get compensated for the emotional support, love, companionship, and guidance that they would have received from the deceased.
  • Instructional Support – This category covers the loss of instruction, advice, and mentorship the deceased would have offered their family members.

It’s worth noting that while the law primarily focuses on the surviving spouse, parents, and children of the deceased, in some cases, non-traditional family members like estranged children or non-related legal dependents may be eligible to receive compensation. However, their position in the beneficiary priority order may be lower. In wrongful death cases, compensation generally falls into three main categories:

  • Decedent’s Losses – This compensates for the victim’s losses and suffering from the time of injury to the time of death. It may include medical bills, missed pay, and pain and suffering during this time.
  • Economic Family Losses – The family suffers measurable financial losses, including the income the dead would have contributed and the value of services they can no longer supply (e.g., home duties, childcare).
  • Non-Economic Family Losses – These are more subjective, such as surviving family members’ emotional pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Non-economic damages are limited in medical malpractice lawsuits in Florida. Non-economic damages have a cap of $500,000 for doctors and $750,000 for non-practitioner defendants. The court may raise these restrictions to $1 million for practitioners and $1.5 million for non-practitioner defendants in catastrophic injury or death situations. However, it is crucial to remember that the Florida Supreme Court considered these damage limitations unconstitutional in 2017 and that their validity may vary based on the individual facts of each case. Economic damages, such as medical expenditures and lost earnings, are not limited.

Each wrongful death case is unique, and the compensation awarded depends on factors, such as the severity of the negligence, the extent of the damages, and the impact on the surviving family members. It’s crucial to consult with an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Fort Lauderdale to guide you through the intricacies of wrongful death claims and help you seek your rightful compensation.

How a Fort Lauderdale Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help

A Fort Lauderdale wrongful death attorney from Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys can offer invaluable assistance to grieving loved ones during an incredibly challenging time. Their expertise and guidance are essential in understanding the legal complexities of wrongful death cases. Here are some ways a lawyer can help:

Investigating Your Loved One’s Death

Wrongful death trials tend to include complicated and sometimes contradictory facts. A professional attorney can thoroughly evaluate the facts surrounding the loss of a family member. Reviewing police reports, interviewing witnesses, and gathering evidence, like surveillance films or medical records, may all be part of the process. An attorney can assess responsibility and build a solid case by discovering the truth.

Explaining Your Legal Rights

The laws regarding wrongful death cases differ significantly from state to state. In Florida, for example, specific statutes control who is allowed to bring a wrongful death lawsuit and what damages can be claimed, such as Florida Statute 768.21. An attorney can advise you on your legal rights based on your situation and the state’s rules. They can tell you if you are eligible to sue for compensation, who can file the case, and the applicable statute of limitations (the time restriction for initiating a lawsuit).

Pursuing Financial Compensation

A wrongful death attorney can help you secure financial compensation for various damages, both economic and non-economic. Medical expenses linked to your loved one’s care, funeral and burial costs, and the loss of income that the dead would have earned if they had lived are all examples of economic losses. Non-economic losses are more challenging to measure and may include:

  • Your loved one’s pain and suffering before death
  • Loss of companionship and emotional support
  • Emotional anguish survivors feel

Handling Complex Legal Procedures

Wrongful death cases involve legal processes, paperwork, and negotiations with insurers and other parties. An attorney can manage these complexities on your behalf, ensuring that all necessary documents get filed correctly and your rights get protected throughout the process.

Negotiating Settlements

Wrongful death claims can often reach a resolution through settlement negotiations. An experienced Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyer can negotiate with the responsible party or their insurance company to secure a fair settlement that adequately compensates you and your family. They will advocate for your best interests and ensure the opposing party doesn’t offer you inadequate compensation.

Taking the Case to Trial

If both sides can’t reach a reasonable settlement through negotiation, your attorney can take your case to trial. They will argue for the compensation you deserve before a judge and jury. This option allows you to fight for justice and hold the responsible party accountable.

A wrongful death attorney in Fort Lauderdale is crucial in helping families seek justice and financial compensation after losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. They provide essential support during a difficult time, allowing you to focus on healing and grieving while they handle the legal aspects of your case.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Suffering a considerable loss in Fort Lauderdale, whether it is the death of a family member, a miscarriage, or a job loss, can be challenging and painful. Coping with complicated emotions such as loss, sadness, rage, and bewilderment may be difficult. Seeking support is critical during these hard times, and a grief counselor is a valuable resource.

Grief counselors are trained experts who specialize in guiding people through mourning. They provide direction and support to assist individuals on their grieving journey, from understanding and processing the loss to embracing and managing the emotions that come with it. Grief counselors can help you at any stage of the mourning process, whether you’ve been grieving for a long time or have recently experienced a loss. If you are in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and seeking therapy and support to cope with your loss, consider reaching out to the following resources:

  • Lighter Living (Grief Counseling) – Lighter Living offers grief counseling services to help individuals and families work through the challenges of loss. Their experienced counselors are dedicated to providing compassionate support during this difficult time.
  • Hospice of Broward County – Hospice of Broward County offers various bereavement services and support for individuals and families coping with losing a loved one. Their programs aim to provide comfort and healing throughout the grief journey.
  • Couples Thrive (Grief and Loss Therapy) – Couples Thrive offers grief and loss therapy services that focus on helping couples and individuals survive the challenges of loss within their relationships. Their therapists have the necessary training to address the unique dynamics of grief in couples.

These resources are dedicated to helping you or your loved ones during the grieving process. Finding support from professionals specializing in grief counseling can significantly impact your journey toward healing and acceptance. Remember that you don’t have to go through this challenging time alone and caring professionals are ready to assist you in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Experienced Attorneys in Fort Lauderdale

Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys supplies an in-depth level of knowledge and dedication to our work as Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyers. We understand the profound impact that such events may have since we have a proven track record of advocating for families and people who have lost a loved one due to negligence or unethical conduct.

Our empathetic approach and legal knowledge ensure that clients receive the necessary support and counsel they need during difficult times. Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys are your trusted champions if you search for justice and compensation for a tragic death in Fort Lauderdale. Contact us to discuss your case and start the process of pursuing justice for your loved one.

In addition to Fort Lauderdale, the experienced legal team at our law firm also serves Pompano Beach, Miami, Weston, Plantation, Hialeah, Sunrise, Hollywood, Florida, Davie, Fort Myers, and more.