It is one of the sadder aspects of our lives that there will be deaths among our families that are both sudden and tragic. When such deaths occur it is only natural that we try to understand why such things happen. In most of these deaths we find that there is some medical reason, such as a heart attack or a stroke, that caused death to come suddenly. But there are also times that we find there might have been a reason for death that could have been prevented.
When there is a cause of death that could have been prevented if someone could have foreseen that the consequences of their actions would have resulted in harm to another, it is said that a wrongful death has occurred and the person or persons responsible for the wrongful death can be forced to pay damages to the victim’s survivors.
Examples of wrongful death are:
A man stops at his neighborhood tavern and spends a few hours drinking with his friends. After leaving he veers into oncoming traffic and strikes a car, killing the driver. The impaired driver is responsible for the wrongful death of the other driver because he could have foreseen that driving while impaired was a danger to others.
A car parts manufacturer makes brake liners for automobile brakes and uses substandard materials. When the brakes on a family car fail, killing a passenger, the manufacturer can be sued for wrongful death because they deliberately sold defective parts that led to a death.
Legal Requirements For A Wrongful Death Lawsuits
It would be immoral, and bordering on slander, to name someone as the defendant in a wrongful death suit without sufficient evidence to support such an accusation.
Accordingly, before a wrongful death lawsuit can be pursued, four conditions must be satisfied:
The death of a specific individual: This is often the least-contested part of a wrongful death lawsuit because someone obviously died and that fact is easy to confirm.
The death of the individual was caused by negligence or with intent to harm: This part is the part that is often the most contested by those named as being the cause of the victim’s death unless the cause of death is obvious, as in the example of the impaired driver.
Surviving family members suffered financial injury as a consequence of the individual’s death: The survivors must be able to show that have saddled with a financial burden as a result of the death. Usually the survivors will claim loss of wages that would have been earned by the person who died as justification for the lawsuit.
A personal representative decedent’s estate: The personal representative is the individual who actually files the wrongful death lawsuit and acts as the survivors’ agent in the lawsuit.
What Types Of Damages Can Be Claimed In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Damages are divided into two types: actual and punitive.
Actual damages are those which compensate for lost income, funeral expenses, emotional distress, or loss of personal property.
Punitive damages are those that are awarded to punish the party or parties whose negligence or willful actions led to the victim’s death. Punitive damage awards are often much larger than the actual damages.
How To File A Miami Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A sudden death is always a shock to those who are left behind. In many cases it is often months later that something comes to light that seems to suggest that your loved one’s death may not have been the result of natural causes.
If you have lost a family member, and you feel that negligence or carelessness might have been involved in that death, you should contact the wrongful death lawyer the Doan Law Firm by calling (786) 671-0000 whenever it is most convenient for you. Our wrongful death lawyer will review the facts in your case and suggest a course of action.
Your first consultation with our wrongful death attorney is always free of charge and does create an obligation on your part. If you do decide to have us represent you, we will not ask you to make any payments for any aspect of your case and we will cover all expenses necessary for us to win your case in exchange for a percentage of your final settlement.