What Constitutes Wrongful Death in Florida?
Florida law defines wrongful death as a death that occurs due to “the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters, and the event would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued, the person or watercraft that would have been liable in damages if death had not ensued.”
There are several circumstances in which a wrongful death can occur in Spring Hill, including:
- Motor vehicle accidents: There are several dangerous intersections in and around Spring Hill, including the intersection of Linden and Coronado, where neighbors say there are many accidents related to high speed and stoplight running. More than 2,400 car accidents occur in Hernando County each year, resulting in more than two dozen deaths. These deaths involve the occupants of cars, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
- Premises liability issues: The owners or possessors of commercial, public, and residential properties in Spring Hill are responsible for regularly inspecting their property in search of hazards that can cause injuries to guests. If they find hazards, they must promptly mitigate them and warn guests of the danger if they cannot immediately repair or remedy the issue. Common types of premises liability issues that can cause the death of a visitor include slip and fall accidents, swimming pool accidents, fires, amusement park accidents, negligent security, and animal attacks.
- Defective foods, medications, and products: Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that the products, foods, and medications they make available for consumers are reasonably safe when used according to labeled instructions. Three product defects can lead to death and result in a wrongful death product liability claim, including defective designs, manufacturing defects, and labeling defects. Some common defective products in these claims include dangerous food items, medications, children’s clothing and toys, automotive parts, and appliances.
- Nursing home negligence. Spring Hill contains more than a dozen nursing homes, with many more in the surrounding area. Nursing homes that receive funding through Medicare/Medicaid are subject to annual inspections and even fines for failing to provide their elderly and vulnerable residents from becoming injured due to abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, understaffing is a common issue in nursing facilities. It can lead to errors and the inability of staff to provide the care that residents are entitled to receive through federal and state nursing home laws.
The Financial and Psychological Impacts of a Wrongful Death
Losing someone unexpectedly can cause economic and emotional suffering for loved ones. First, there are immediate financial costs, such as funeral services and burial or cremation. The average funeral in Florida costs about $6,500, with additional costs for a casket, burial plot, and gravemarker. Additionally, the family can face the cost of medical expenses incurred in providing treatment for the decedent before death.
If the deceased party was an income earner for their household, family members could find themselves dealing with financial difficulties due to the loss of support provided by the decedent.
This loss can also include the cost of benefits obtained and shared with the family—such as health insurance coverage—that is no longer available. The impacts of the death spread far into the future for many families, as they lose the net accumulations to the estate and potential inheritance for the deceased’s children that would have been built up through the course of a career if they had survived.
For most families, the financial impact of the loss takes a backseat to the profound psychological effects. For the deceased’s spouse, the death marks the loss of love, companionship, consortium, comfort, and society. There is a loss of love, nurturing, guidance, and instruction for children who have lost a parent due to someone else’s negligence. Parents who have lost a child suffer extraordinary mental pain.
Seeking Compensation for Your Loss
While money cannot bring back what a family loses when a wrongful death occurs, it can help the family regain secure financial footing and address their emotional impacts. Family members in Florida who have lost a loved one can seek compensation for their loss’s financial and psychological effects through the wrongful death claims process.
The wrongful death claims process often begins when the family seeks the assistance of an experienced Spring Hill wrongful death lawyer. The lawyer can analyze the details of the accident that resulted in death and help the family determine liability for that accident and available insurance resources that can provide compensation.
According to Florida’s wrongful death law, the family members themselves cannot file a claim. Instead, the executor of the deceased’s estate can file the claim on behalf of the deceased’s beneficiaries.
The claim is initially filed with the provider of a liability insurance policy held by the at-fault party.
For example, you would file a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance policy if the death occurred due to a car accident.
If a premises liability issue caused the accident, you would file a claim against the at-fault party’s homeowners, renters, or business liability insurance.
If the accident involved the negligence of a government employee or staff, you would file a claim against that agency or its insurance provider.
When the insurance provider receives the claim, they can opt to either pay it, deny it, or offer a settlement for less than the value of the claim. If they fail to pay the claim or make a fair settlement offer, you would file a wrongful death lawsuit.