More than 32,000 die as the result of vehicular crashes in the United States every year and in 2019, 3,273 of those people were killed in Florida. Although many types of accidents can lead to wrongful death, auto accidents are one of the leading causes.
If you have lost a family member in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you might be facing medical bills, funeral expenses, and loss of income from your loved one’s death. Moreover, you’ve lost your loved one’s emotional support, affection, and companionship. And while nothing will bring that person back, you may be entitled to recover damages caused by someone else’s failure to exercise the duty of care they owed your loved one.
For more than a decade, Tonya Stewart Law has been helping families in Lake Wales and Lakeland, Florida, whose loved ones were taken from them in that instant another driver failed to operate their vehicle in a responsible way. You need a tough advocate who won’t back down from big insurance company attorneys. That’s how I serve my clients, and that’s how I can help you.
There are two reasons to file a wrongful death claim after a family member dies in an accident. First, it holds the at-fault driver responsible for their actions by penalizing them financially and legally for their negligence, which might save other families from going through the trauma of loss in the future. Second, the costs associated with the loss of a loved one can be high and financial recovery for expenses like funeral and burial costs and loss of income can help ease the financial burden. This isn’t about profiting from the death of a loved one. It’s about holding someone accountable for their negligence.
Under Florida law, a person injured by a wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty by someone else is entitled to take legal action and recover damages. If the injured person dies as the result of another person’s actions, their family and estate are entitled to hold the negligent person accountable. In other words, whether the victim was injured or killed, the negligent person is liable for the damages they caused.
The personal representative of the decedent’s estate, named in a will or estate plan, may file a wrongful death claim in Florida. If there is no personal representative, the court can appoint one.
The claim, or complaint, filed in a wrongful death action must identify all beneficiaries of any recovery and their relationship to the decedent. Beneficiaries include:
The surviving spouse;
Minor children of the decedent and adult children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse;
Parents of a deceased minor child and parents of an adult child if there is no surviving spouse or children;
Any blood relative or adopted siblings of the decedent who are partly or wholly dependent upon the decedent for support and services;
In the case of the mother’s death, a child born out of wedlock; and,
In the case of the father’s death, a child born out of wedlock who can prove the father was financially responsible for them.
In Florida, there is a two-year statute of limitations from the date of death in which to file a wrongful death claim.
Recoverable damages vary depending on the beneficiary’s relationship with the decedent. But in general, beneficiaries can recover the value of lost support and services from the date of injury to date of death, and the future value of that loss. The surviving spouse can recover for loss of companionship and protection, and for mental pain and suffering. Children can recover for loss of parental companionship, instruction, and guidance, and for mental pain and suffering.
If you’ve lost a loved one in an accident where someone else was at fault, you can hold that person liable for your losses and damages. But you can’t do it alone. You need an experienced attorney who has proven time and time again she can challenge negligent drivers and their insurers’ legal counsel to prove that your loved one’s life had value to others.
At Tonya Stewart Law PA, I am proud to be that kind of wrongful death attorney, helping clients in Lake Wales, Lakeland, and surrounding Florida communities recover damages after losing a loved one. I will help you fight for fair compensation and guide you compassionately through the process.
With more than a decade of experience, I have acquired the knowledge, skill, and tenacity that is necessary for an attorney to be successful in personal injury and wrongful death cases. I have assisted many clients through the process of seeking justice and financial retribution. Contact me today to schedule a free consultation. I represent clients in and around Lake Wales, Lakeland, Winter Haven, Davenport, and Haines City, FL.