Your loved one went to the hospital and advised doctors of an extreme allergic reaction to a certain antibiotic. However, the hospital failed to note the reaction and prescribed the antibiotic under a generic name, causing anaphylactic shock and resulting in her death. What are your rights after a heartbreaking loss, such as this one? What recourse can you take? Florida law states that after deaths caused by intentional actions, reckless behaviors or negligence, family members should be entitled to fair and complete compensation for their losses.
Call us to speak with a wrongful death lawyer right now about what you can do to demand fairness and justice in your case.
Florida Statistics on Wrongful Death
Statistically speaking, vehicular accidents cause more wrongful death lawsuits in Florida than do any other type of accident or event. In 2010 and 2011, experts estimate that approximately 2,500 fatal auto accidents occurred on state roads and freeways.
In wrongful death lawsuits, Florida caps pain and suffering, also called non-economic damages, at $1 million in medical cases and at $1.5 million in non-medical cases. However, the state does not limit punitive sanctions, designed to send a strong message to defendants in order minimize repeated negligent behavior by the offender or by a similar person or entity.
National Statistics on Wrongful Death
According to respected and objective sources:
- About 98,000 people lost their lives in 2013 due to misdiagnosis or surgical mistakes
- More than 30,000 traffic deaths happened nationally – 40 percent of those involved a DUI
- Nearly 20,000 deaths happen each year in slip-and-fall accidents due to slippery surfaces, poor lighting or obstructions in the way. Seniors stand at the highest risk of all age groups
- About 6,000 people annually die in workplace accidents, mostly in construction or industrial industries
- Medication mistakes result in 7,000 fatalities each year
- Fatalities triple when a driver engages with a hand-held device, such as a cell phone or tablet. Even just reaching for a device increases risk of accident or death. Driver distraction alone claims the lives of 3,200 people annually
An impaired driver with a blood-alcohol-content level well above the legal limit plowed into your loved one’s vehicle, killing him or her instantly. Or your child suffered a dog bite, but the complications from the resulting infection led to his or her death. These cases and others like them are examples of what the law considers “wrongful deaths.”
But what are your rights in such cases as a loved one? The answer depends on several factors, such as the state where the wrongful death occurs. In Florida, the personal representative for the deceased person’s estate needs to file a wrongful death lawsuit if another party negligently or intentionally caused a person’s death. The representative files the lawsuit for all individuals named in the estate or the affected family members.
Florida Statutes section 678.18 provides a specific definition of wrongful death and outlines information about how to seek redress through the courts. In addition, the law regulates time frames for how long you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit, which is four years in most Florida cases. Talk with an attorney to ensure that you meet the required deadlines.
Examples of Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Examples of wrongful deaths that lead to lawsuits include:
- Vehicular accidents
- Dog bites
- Premises liability
- Workplace or construction accidents
- Water-related accidents
- Theme park accidents
- Gunshot injuries
- Nursing home accidents
- Defective drugs
- Defective products, such as car parts
- Medical or surgical mistakes
Examples of Florida Case Verdicts
Due to various factors in Florida cases, including changing laws, the results of one case should not be over interpreted. However, the following cases demonstrate possible verdicts in several different types of lawsuits:
- Tobacco lawsuit – After a man died from lung cancer, his widow recovered $90.2 million in a lawsuit. After the jury assigned fault, it issued a final verdict of $46.3 million
- Vehicular accident – A man and his wife died on impact after their motorcycle collided head-on with an SUV. The court awarded the survivors $6.5 million
- Medical malpractice – A 32-year-old man suffered a fatal anaphylactic reaction, leaving his wife a widow and his children orphans. The court decided a verdict of $4.8 million
- Trucking accident – A truck hit and killed a 16-year-old boy walking to school. The court awarded his loved ones $3 million
Key Elements in a Wrongful Death Case
You will need to prove four key elements in order to win a wrongful death lawsuit:
- The defendant caused the person’s death, even in part
- If the actions were not intentional, then the defendant negligently caused the person’s death
- You or other survivors are eligible for compensation in a wrongful death case
- The person’s death caused financial loss
Negligence in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Negligence means that the liable party failed to exercise reasonable care in the situation. You need to not only show that the defendant acted negligently but also that his or her negligence caused your loved one’s death. Since establishing a strong case is challenging, an attorney will link case evidence, expert witness testimony and a solid argument together to support the charge of negligence.
For example, if your loved one died on a ride at a theme park due to a lack of regular maintenance on the ride, then the business owner or construction company that built the ride might be found negligent. Another example of negligence: your spouse died after an operation when the surgeon left gauze inside his or her abdomen, resulting in a deadly infection.
Compensation in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit
State law also sets specific parameters on seeking compensation. The court allows tangible medical and burial costs and also assesses the following:
- The support of the deceased to the loved one, such as that of a spouse to the surviving partner
- The loss of guidance, protection and companionship, such as a parent for a child
- Emotional and mental anguish specific to the death of a child
- The potential future value of the estate
- Lost income and possible future earnings
Did you lose a loved one due to a person or company’s negligence or carelessness? Demand justice, and honor your loved one’s memory and legacy. Don’t go it alone. Call us for a free, private consultation with a lakeland accident lawyer right now.