Tampa Wrongful Death Attorneys
Losing a loved one is a painful experience. When the death comes unexpectedly, the experience can be especially shocking and traumatic. Florida law allows the surviving family members, through the estate of the deceased, to recover compensation from a guilty party whose negligence or wrongful act caused the death, whether the person died instantly or afterward due to the injuries sustained in the accident. While you are processing emotions of anger and grief and working to put some order back in your life, our Tampa wrongful death attorneys are working to see that the responsible party is held accountable to you and that you receive significant financial help to make up for the losses and harm inflicted on you.
If you lost a loved one to a car, truck or motorcycle accident in Tampa or some other incident caused by the negligence or misconduct of another, call Greco & Wozniak, P.A. to file a wrongful death claim and get justice for your family and your dearly departed.
Florida Wrongful Death Law
Florida law authorizes legal action for wrongful death when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act or negligence of another, and the person would have had a personal injury claim had death not occurred.
It falls on the personal representative of the estate to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. The estate’s personal representative is the person named in the will or appointed by the court to represent the estate, so a wrongful death claim can’t get started until after probate has been opened and a personal representative has been named.
The beneficiaries of any wrongful death damages award through settlement or judgment are the surviving family members of the deceased, specifically the surviving spouse, children, parents and any blood relatives or adoptive siblings who were at least partly dependent on the deceased for support or services. When filing the lawsuit, the personal representative should list all surviving family members who have an interest in the case.
Proving Liability and Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
Proving a wrongful death case can be more difficult than other personal injury cases. Usually after a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, the injury victim is able to describe to the police or plaintiff’s attorney what happened to cause the accident, which can be helpful in proving the other driver’s negligence. In a wrongful death case, the plaintiffs often have no direct knowledge of the crash but must instead rely on witnesses, physical evidence such as tire marks on the road and vehicle damage, or the reports of private investigators or accident reconstruction experts hired by the plaintiff. The attorneys at Greco & Wozniak, P.A. have handled hundreds of wrongful death claims and understand how to build a case that proves the defendant’s liability and fault in causing the fatal accident.
Recoverable damages in a Florida wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses related to the injury causing death
- Mental pain and suffering experienced by family members over the death
- The value of support and services that have been lost
- The value of companionship and protection from the deceased that have now been lost
- The value of parental companionship, instruction and guidance that have been lost
- The value of income the deceased would have earned that has now been lost
These damages have to be supported by evidence and proven in court if the case goes to trial. We have years of experience litigating and proving damages in wrongful death cases and also bringing in experts as needed to prove a strong case for significant compensation.
Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death
Florida law allows parents to sue for the wrongful death of an adult child, or for adult children to sue for the wrongful death of a parent, and to recover mental pain and suffering damages as part of their lawsuit. However, pain and suffering damages are not available for these plaintiffs when the death was caused by medical negligence. There is no reason for this quirk in the law other than to protect doctors and hospitals from having to pay large judgments for deaths caused by their medical mistakes. Although we strongly disagree with this restrictive law, it has been upheld by the Florida Supreme Court and remains the law of the land here. Until that law is changed, we encourage bereaved family members to contact us to pursue their case so we can utilize our skill and experience to achieve the best outcome under the law.
Tampa Wrongful Death FAQs
Q. Are there caps on non-economic damages in wrongful death cases based on medical malpractice?
A. No. In 2014, the Florida Supreme Court announced a landmark decision in the case of McCall v. United States, finding the statutory cap on wrongful death non-economic damages to be unconstitutional. Additionally, the Florida Supreme Court held that the statute imposed unfair and illogical burdens on injured parties when an act of medical negligence gave rise to multiple claimants.
Q. Does an estate need to be set up to pursue a wrongful death action?
A. Yes, a wrongful death action must be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. The personal representative does not necessarily have to have an individual claim, but must be the person to bring the action. The personal representative may be an independent third party and does not have to be the surviving spouse, parent, or child of the decedent.
Q. What is the statute of limitations for pursuing a wrongful death action?
A. Generally speaking, a wrongful death action must be commenced within two years from the date of the decedent’s death. The statute of limitations may expire sooner in a wrongful death action based on medical malpractice if the negligence was committed before the decedent’s death and the decedent knew or should have known of the negligence with the exercise of due diligence. Under either of these circumstances, a trusted wrongful death attorney should be contacted to handle the case as soon as possible.
Q. Can a qualified survivor recover compensation for loss of the decedent’s income?
A. Yes. As long as a survivor meets the criteria contained in the statute, a wrongful death recovery includes compensation for loss of the decedent’s support, which provides income the decedent was earning.
Our Attorneys Are Here for You After a Wrongful Death in Tampa
If you have lost a loved one due to another’s negligence in a Tampa car, truck or motorcycle accident or incident of medical malpractice, call Greco & Wozniak, P.A. at 813-223-7849 to discuss your potential claims with skilled and compassionate Tampa personal injury and wrongful death attorneys.