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What is a wrongful death lawsuit?

Each year, far too many Florida residents unexpectedly lose their lives. Whether the death is a result of a work accident, a motor vehicle accident or medical malpractice, the victim’s family is often left wondering how and why the fatal accident occurred. After the initial shock and grief, the family may start to think about whether they have a legal cause of action against a person or company that may have contributed to the accident.

A wrongful death lawsuit is a cause of action by which the representative of the deceased person’s estate sues any party that might be responsible for the death. The plaintiff must prove that the negligent acts of the other party were at least partly to blame for the death. In addition, the person suing must show that the deceased person’s surviving family members suffered monetary loss due to the death of their loved one.

If a plaintiff is successful in a wrongful death lawsuit, they may recover various different types of damages. For example, wrongful death plaintiffs may be entitled to medical and funeral expenses, as well as the lost future income of the deceased victim. Furthermore, under Florida law, plaintiffs may be able to recover punitive damages if they can prove that the responsible party caused the death through intentional or grossly negligent acts.

Following the death of a loved one, legal action is probably the last thing that surviving family members want to think about. However, as soon as they begin to move past the initial grieving process, they should organize their deceased family member’s affairs and think about whether a wrongful death lawsuit is sensible.

While immediate legal action is not necessary, it can help to preserve vital evidence that may ultimately prove the case. Likewise, surviving family members must understand that Florida law sets time limitations on how long a party has to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Accordingly, anyone who is in this difficult position should reach out to an experienced wrongful death attorney if they have any questions about Florida law and their legal options.

Source: FindLaw, “Wrongful Death Overview,” Accessed on Aug. 28, 2014

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