When a loved one dies suddenly and unexpectedly, you want answers. Such a death may leave you wondering what happened, why it happened, and if someone else is to blame.
Over 3,000 people die every year in car accidents on Florida roads. About ten percent of those accidents are alcohol or drug-related. This means that drivers could have prevented many car accident deaths in Florida by simply being responsible and not getting behind the wheel. If your loved one has been killed in a Florida car accident, you deserve justice for his or her untimely and preventable death. The best way to ensure justice is by speaking with a trusted Orlando car accident lawyer today.
Do not try to do this alone. You are likely feeling a wave of emotions. Some days will be better than others; some days will seem endless. An experienced car accident lawyer knows how difficult it can be to lose a loved one, especially under these circumstances. That is why car accident lawyers work so hard to hold the negligent driver liable for your loved one’s death and for your pain, suffering, and financial hardship.
Car Accident Wrongful Death
Wrongful death is the death of any person resulting from the wrongful act of another person. In the United States, over 30,000 people die each year in car accidents. While the number of deaths resulting from car accidents is dropping thanks to safety measures in cars, this does not take away from the fact that your loved one is gone.
Nothing is guaranteed, but car accident deaths are a textbook case for wrongful death claims, where someone else’s negligence resulted in death. Regardless, no case is a slam dunk. In fact, car accident wrongful death cases are some of the most challenging to prove because there are many factors at play and because your loved one is not around to testify about what happened.
Some car accidents are more likely to cause death than others. These include:
- High-speed crashes
- Rear-end collisions
- Tractor-trailer jackknife
- Hit-and-run accidents
- Head-on collisions
- Intersection accidents
- Side-impact collisions
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
This list does not include every type of car accident that can cause death. If you have lost a loved one in a car accident, the best way to determine whether his or her death was wrongful is to speak with a wrongful death lawyer in Florida right away. When you seek help, you can get the answers you need.
When your loved one has died in a car accident, you may have no clue what to do next. That’s where a wrongful death lawyer can help. Every wrongful death car accident is different. From the day you hire us, we’ll start working to:
- Preserve evidence
- Negotiate with insurance companies
- Speak with witnesses
- Speak with experts
- Review police reports
- Review medical records
- Begin a calculation of financial losses
Our goal is to relieve you of the legal stress associated with a wrongful death claim. You have enough on your plate already, and may need to grieve with your family. By letting your lawyer deal with the legal complexities, you give yourself the best chance to heal.
Proving Wrongful Death
To many, wrongful death cases seem easy. In reality, wrongful death cases are some of the most complex legal cases. Wrongful death cases require a substantial amount of evidence to demonstrate that the other driver acted negligently and caused the death of your loved one.
When you file a wrongful death claim, you must prove the following:
- The at-fault driver owed a duty of care to your loved one to drive carefully and not in a way that puts others in danger.
- The at-fault driver breached that duty of care by driving recklessly, carelessly, or negligently.
- As a result of the at-fault driver’s negligence, your loved one died, and you have suffered additional injuries.
- The at-fault driver’s actions caused your loved one’s death.
What most people do not realize is that proving these four elements of a wrongful death claim in Florida often requires extensive fact-finding missions, including the use of experts to help determine the exact cause and reason for the accident.
In a wrongful death case, the at-fault driver’s intent does not really matter. Very few people truly intend to kill someone else, so even if the other driver is extremely sorry, that does not take away the fact that his or her actions still caused your loss. In other words, the at-fault driver’s negligence does not mean that he or she had any evil intent. What the driver did do, however, was act in such a negligent manner that his or her actions caused the death of your loved one. And for that, you should hold the at-fault driver accountable.
As the plaintiff in the wrongful death claim, once you have proven that the at-fault driver acted negligently and caused the death of your loved one, then you can recover damages. However, most wrongful death claims do not get this far. Usually, they settle before trial.
You should never assume that your case will settle, and you should always be prepared for trial. Being prepared may mean enlisting the services of a wrongful death lawyer in Florida who has the resources required to manage your wrongful death claim from start to finish, speaking with experts, and potentially going to trial. When you have that peace of mind, you can grieve and spend time with your family, fondly remembering your lost loved one.
Evidence proves that a death was wrongful. While it may be incredibly hard and emotionally draining, taking pictures of the accident scene is a great way to preserve the evidence necessary to prove the at-fault driver is liable for your loved one’s death.
Car accident evidence can disappear quickly. Authorities will tow damaged cars and clear the road of debris, so other drivers can continue to use the roadway safely. By taking pictures from every angle and showing the damage done to the vehicles, you can strengthen your wrongful death claim.
File a Wrongful Death Claim
Not just anyone can bring a wrongful death claim in Florida. Immediate family members of the victim are the only people allowed to bring a wrongful death claim. You must have standing to bring a claim, and immediate family members have that standing. When you have standing to bring a wrongful death claim in Florida, you can also seek compensation for your injuries, beyond the loss of your loved one. While no amount of money will bring your loved one back, you should not have to suffer financially because of someone else’s negligence.
The most important item to remember about filing a wrongful death claim in Florida is that you have limited time. From the date of the death of your loved one, you only have two years to file a wrongful death claim. Two years may seem like a long time, but life gets in the way. You are likely busy dealing with your loved one’s affairs, setting up funeral arrangements, spending time with loved ones to grieve, and trying to get back to how your life was before this terrible event. Trust us, two years will go by in the blink of an eye.
This is why you need to speak with a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after the loss of your loved one. A good car accident lawyer will work to understand your situation and do everything possible to help you seek justice for your loved one.
Wrongful Death Damages
The type and amount of damages that you can recover for the loss of your loved one depend on many factors. The closer related to the victim you are, the more you can potentially recover.
Possible damages include:
- The victim’s lost wages
- The victim’s lost earning potential
- Your loss of support
- Final medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Your pain and suffering
- Your loss of financial support
- Your lost wages
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of parental guidance
These are not all of the possible damages that a wrongful death claimant can recover. While we know it is impossible to place a dollar amount on the loss of your loved one and how your life was forever altered, the money can make sure that you have the financial means to move forward.
Wrongful Death Settlements
When you bring a wrongful death claim in Florida for the loss of your loved one, you generally will deal with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. It is this insurance company that will pay out the benefit to you for your losses.
Because insurance companies want to make money and not pay out claims like yours, they will fight tooth and nail to keep money in their pockets. But the insurance company also knows that it’s better to settle your wrongful death claim out of court than to go to trial. So the company will likely take actions that may seem less than scrupulous.
For example, soon after you have suffered a tragic loss, the insurance company of the at-fault driver may reach out to you and offer you a settlement. You may exude excitement at the proposition of putting this part of the loss of your loved one behind you, but be careful.
When the insurance company is eager to settle, that should make you think twice. This initial offer is probably for much less than what your claim is actually worth. While no amount of money will bring your loved one back, you certainly want to make sure that you secure compensation for the bills you have paid already and your own pain and suffering.
Perhaps you had to spend time out of work caring for your loved one before his or her death. You may have spent additional time out of work after the death to deal with your loved one’s affairs. It’s not fair to you if you settle for less just to put it behind you.
If you sign the initial low-ball settlement offer, you will likely waive your right to bring any future claim against the insurance company related to the death of your loved one. This means that when you realize the settlement funds you received were not enough to reimburse you the out of pocket costs you paid, it’s too late. Reaching this point is devastating, and hiring a car accident lawyer can make sure that this does not happen to you.
Your attorney will help you accurately calculate the total amount you have already paid for medical expenses, funeral expenses, and other costs associated with your loved one’s death. Next, your lawyer can help you calculate the amount of lost earnings for yourself, the amount in lost earning potential for your loved one, and how that will impact your future financial health. It would surprise you how quickly these amounts add up to large sums of money.
Your life has forever changed, but that does not mean you should also suffer financial hardship.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Today
Consulting a skilled and experienced Florida wrongful death lawyer can give you a leg up. Your attorney’s goal is to ensure that your rights are protected and that your loved one receives justice.
By working with a wrongful death lawyer in Florida that you trust, you can give yourself the best chance of not ending up in financial hardship because of the litany of expenses associated with your loved one’s death. That’s why wrongful death lawyers are here: to help make sure you live the best life you can, given the extreme challenges that you currently face.
Orlando, FL 32814