What Are the Elements of a Florida Wrongful Death Claim?

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wrongful death elements

How can you know if you have an eligible wrongful death claim? You can determine if you have a wrongful death claim if another person’s careless actions harmed your relative and caused their death. This could be the actions of a speeding or a drunk driver, a manufacturing company’s negligence in making auto parts that resulted in an accident, and so forth.

In this article, we will discuss the common elements of a Florida Wrongful Death Claim. If, after reading this blog, you have additional questions about your own situation, then we welcome you to contact the personal injury attorneys in Stuart, FL – Crary Buchanan. At Crary Buchanan, we are proud of our standard of excellence, which has allowed us to thrive as one of the oldest law firms on Florida’s Treasure Coast.  

Our personal injury attorneys in Stuart are passionate about giving you the highest quality representation. Call us today at 772-287-2600, or schedule a free estate planning to consult online with our online contact form

What is Wrongful Death?

To begin, it is important to understand the concept of a “wrongful death.”  A civil claim arises for wrongful death when a person dies due to the negligence of another. For example, assume that a shopping center has a dangerous condition on the second level of the mall, and a child drawn to that area accidentally falls and later passes away from his injuries. That is a wrongful death because the mall negligently created a dangerous situation that resulted in someone’s death. A wrongful death claim brought in connection with that tragedy is a civil claim filed by a family member of the deceased person against the shopping center.  

In short, a wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit brought by a family member of someone who died, with the purpose of holding the person (or company) responsible for their negligence that caused the death.

Wrongful Death Elements?

In Florida, wrongful death claims are regulated by statute, specifically the Florida Wrongful Death Act. With regard to the statutory definition of “wrongful death,” the Florida Wrongful Death Act provides that a claim may be filed when the individual’s death was caused by “the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters.”

Breaking that down, here are the three basic elements of a wrongful death claim. A family member must prove the following:

1. Conduct that amounts to a wrongful act, negligence, default or breach of contract or warranty;
2. The conduct in question was the cause of the family member’s death; and
3. The conduct in question would have allowed the deceased person to file a lawsuit had he or she not perished in the accident. 

It is important to note that when you bring a wrongful death action to recover due to the death of a loved one, the two most contentious elements will likely be negligence and causation. In other words, the party being sued will challenge a wrongful death lawsuit by arguing (i) that the party was not negligent at all, and (ii) that any alleged negligence was not the cause of the death.  

Statute of Limitations

A “statute of limitations” defines the amount of time that you have to file a lawsuit. If you fail to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations period, then you will likely lose your ability to recover anything based on another’s negligence.  

In Florida, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is short – only two years. That is shorter than the limitations period for a normal civil lawsuit based on someone’s negligence. Accordingly, if you have suffered the loss of a loved one, and you know it is because of someone’s negligence, do not sit on your rights. Be sure to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to begin the wrongful death claim process. 

Let the Personal Injury Attorneys in Stuart Help with Your Wrongful Death Case

After a loved one dies, it is a hard time on every level: physically, emotionally, and often if your family member contributed income towards your household, financially. If you believe another person’s negligence caused your relative’s death, you deserve the opportunity to fight for justice and compensation. But if you are not aware of your state’s laws surrounding wrongful death and the legal process that you must follow, your case could be dismissed.

Before you head to court, write a list detailing the pain and suffering your family has endured, the medical and funeral expenses you’ve had to pay, the deceased’s lost wages and benefits, and future lost wages for your family.  Hiring a personal injury attorney is a vital step –you will need their counsel and guidance throughout the days ahead.

At Crary Buchanan, we are committed to providing clients with exceptional service in every aspect of personal injury law.  You can depend upon our 85 years of experience in the Florida legal industry. 

Our legal team is passionate about maintaining the high standards of professionalism and legal service that were established and practiced by founding attorneys Evans Crary Sr. and Evans Crary Jr.  Evans Crary Sr. began his law practice in Stuart in 1927 at a time when Martin County was only two years old.  He became a municipal judge at the age of 25 and served as County Attorney for 23 years. 

During his time as County Attorney he was elected to represent Martin County in the Florida Legislature.  In 1945 he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives. He served in the House for nine years and even served as Speaker of the House before he went on to become a member of the Florida Senate. Today, the Crary Buchanan law firm continues to practice the example of integrity, professionalism, energy, and devotion that was clearly illustrated in the lives of both Evans Crary Sr. and Evans Crary Jr.

Our clients are more than case numbers; they are people. We recognize that you are an individual with unique needs and expectations. Our team is here to meet your need and exceed your expectations. When you work with us, you can have confidence that a caring legal advocate is on your side.

If you have more questions or want a dedicated personal injury attorney in Stuart to help you, call 772-287-2600 or schedule a free consult online with our online contact form.  You can always depend on Crary Buchanan for community, experience, and trust. Call today.