After a loved one dies, you may be dealing with grief and other difficult emotions. However, you may also face the practical reality of losing income and services that supported your household. There is no way to truly compensate for the untimely loss of a loved one. However, Florida law does provide legal procedures that can be implemented when a person’s death is the fault of another party. If you lost a loved one in an accident, you should talk to Jacksonville wrongful death lawyer Kevin M. Cobbin about your situation. You may be able to recover damages.Wrongful Death Claims
Under Florida Statutes Section 768.19, a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought when a death is caused by negligence, wrongdoing, default, or breach of contract. The lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the death by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. A personal representative may be named in the decedent’s will or estate plan. However, a court can appoint a personal representative to bring the wrongful death lawsuit when none is named in a testamentary instrument. In bringing the wrongful death lawsuit, the personal representative should specify the names of survivors with an interest in the decedent’s estate.
A wrongful death lawsuit is brought in civil court. It can be brought even if criminal charges were brought against the defendant, and even if the defendant was not convicted. In a criminal case, the prosecutor needs to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a very high standard. Civil cases require proof by a preponderance of the evidence, which is not as stringent a standard. A defendant may be acquitted of a homicide and still be held responsible for damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.Liability
In addition to establishing your entitlement to damages, a wrongful death attorney in Jacksonville will need to show the defendant’s liability. Most cases require a plaintiff to prove that a defendant’s negligence caused the death. In order to establish liability, you will need to show that it is more likely than not that the defendant owed a duty of care, the defendant failed to meet the duty of care that was owed, and this failure caused injuries and damages. The duty of care that is owed depends on the circumstances of the accident. Regarding motor vehicle collisions, all drivers of vehicles owe a duty to use reasonable care to avoid injuring others on the road. If, for example, the driver of a big rig takes prescription drugs that make him sleepy on the road, and he fails to brake in time to avoid colliding with your spouse’s car, you may be able to recover damages from the driver of the big rig in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Florida follows the rule of comparative negligence. Your damages will be reduced by the decedent’s comparative negligence. For instance, if your spouse was tailgating another car and died in a crash, partly as a result, your damages will be reduced by an amount proportionate to his degree of fault. However, a Jacksonville wrongful death attorney can work to defeat or minimize allegations of comparative fault.Wrongful Death Damages
Damages that may be obtained include medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, loss of companionship and guidance, pain and suffering due to the loss of a child, and the value of support and services. In most cases arising out of negligence, wrongful death damages are compensatory. They are meant to make family members whole. However, the court may award punitive damages to a survivor if he or she can demonstrate that an at-fault party’s actions were reckless, grossly negligent, or intentional. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are meant to punish a wrongdoer and deter future similar conduct by others.Retain a Seasoned Jacksonville Attorney
It is difficult to lose a loved one. You may have practical needs that must be met, such as rent payments or funeral expenses. If you believe that you are owed damages after a fatal accident in the Jacksonville area, experienced wrongful death lawyer Kevin M. Cobbin can assist you. He represents people throughout Duval County and the surrounding areas. Call him at (904) 357-8448 or complete our online form.