Fatal Car Accident Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale

Each year, thousands of people are killed in car accidents across the country, leaving countless families devastated. Many of these fatal accidents result from the negligence of another person. While nothing can bring back a loved one, a wrongful death claim can allow a family to focus on grieving rather than on how to pay the bills.

A fatal car accident lawyer in Fort Lauderdale at Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. can walk you through the process and ensure you get justice for your loved one: 954-524-2820.

What should I do if my loved one died in an accident?

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence or carelessness of another driver, you may have legal rights to recover compensation from the parties liable for the death.

Under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, Florida Statute § 768.16, Florida families can file a wrongful death lawsuit against those responsible for their loved one’s death. The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death suit in Florida is two years from the date of death. Families who fail to file suit within two years of the death will likely be unable to recover damages.

Who can file a wrongful death claim?

Only a personal representative of the deceased’s estate can bring a wrongful death claim. This representative can bring suit on behalf of estate beneficiaries and on behalf of the survivors of the decedent. Potential beneficiaries include:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Other relatives dependent on the deceased
  • Children born to unmarried parents (in certain circumstances)

Who should I name as a defendant?

As with other personal injury claims, the defendant(s) in your wrongful death claim will include the person and/or company you believe is responsible for your loved one’s death. If your loved one died in a car accident, you may be able to file suit against:

  • The other driver
  • The other driver’s employer if he was on-the-job at the time of the accident
  • The manufacturer of the vehicle
  • The manufacturer of defective parts of the vehicle

What are the elements of a wrongful death case?

In order to prove your wrongful death case, you will be required to establish the following elements in court:

  • Death
  • Personal representative
  • Wrongdoing by the defendant
  • Survivors

Death

First, you will need to prove that a death in fact occurred. A death certificate should be sufficient to prove this element.

Personal Representative

After proving the death, you must also establish the identity of the personal representative. In some cases, the decedent appoints a representative in his or her will. If not, the surviving spouse may appoint one.

Wrongdoing by the Defendant

Next, you will need to establish that the defendant’s conduct was wrongful. We will refer to this wrongdoing as negligence. Proving negligence in a wrongful death case requires you to show:

Duty: You will need to establish that the driver owed the decedent a duty of care. All drivers owe a duty to other motorists to use a reasonable standard of care when operating their vehicles.

Breach of duty: You will need to show that the other driver breached his/her duty to the decedent by failing to adhere to the reasonable standard of care that all drivers must follow. Establishing a breach of duty will require you to prove that the other driver committed one or more acts of negligence behind the wheel.

Speeding, distracted driving, following too closely, failing to follow traffic laws, and drunk driving are common examples of negligent driving. Police reports, witness testimony, traffic laws, and other forms of evidence can help prove a breach.

Causation: Next, you will need to establish that the defendant’s negligent actions were the actual and proximate cause of the decedent’s death. You will need to show that the death would not have occurred but for the other driver’s negligence and that the harmful consequences were foreseeable.

Having a doctor conduct an examination or autopsy may be helpful in establishing cause of death. This will allow you to link the cause of death to the defendant’s negligence.

Survivors

Once you have established that the defendant was negligent and that his or her negligence caused your loved one’s death, you must establish that, as a surviving family member, you have legal standing to benefit from the claim.

Our team will manage this process and ensure you have crossed all your I’s and dotted your t’s. We will use our experience with injury law to ensure you get the damages you deserve. We will not let an insurer or the other side’s legal team take advantage of you in your time of need.

Damages Recoverable in Wrongful Death Suit

Under Fla. Stat. § 768.16, plaintiffs can receive economic, non-economic, and punitive damages if a wrongful death claim is successful.

Insurers or courts award wrongful death damages to mitigate the loss of the survivors of beneficiaries of the deceased and hold the defendants responsible for their wrongdoing.

Economic Damages

Your attorney will calculate your economic damages by putting a monetary value on the contributions your loved one would have made if he or she was still alive. Survivors can recover compensation for:

  • Decedent’s medical expenses
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of decedent’s expected earnings
  • Loss of benefits (e.g., pension, insurance coverage)
  • Value of the support and services provided by the decedent if they were living

Non-Economic Damages

Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are subjective and not as easily calculated. Some non-economic damages that a wrongful death survivor can recover include:

  • Survivors’ pain and suffering
  • Survivors’ emotional distress
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of guidance, care and protection provided by the deceased

Punitive Damages

In rare cases, courts may award punitive damages to punish the person responsible for the death. Courts will only award these damages in cases of gross negligence or blatant disregard for human life.

We will work with financial experts to get a dollar amount on all the damages you and your family have suffered.

Get Help with Your Case

Applying the rules of wrongful death to your specific case can be challenging, especially as you grieve the loss of your loved one. We will ensure you do not go through it alone.

The attorneys at Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. can guide you through the legal process and be your path to justice. Call us whenever you are ready to schedule a free consultation to discuss your loved one’s case: 954-524-2820.