Fort Lauderdale
Wrongful Death Attorney

wrongful death

Did your loved one die in an accident because of someone else’s carelessness or a wrongful act? While the loss of a loved one can cause your family to feel grief and sadness, if your loved one suffered an avoidable death, your grief may also be compounded by anger.

We understand that no money can bring your loved one back. But you and your family have the right to pursue financial compensation and obtain some justice from those at fault. Let a Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyer from Phillips | Tadros, P.A., help your family seek accountability and financial recovery.

With nearly 40 years of combined legal experience, our legal team has developed a reputation for successful results, having recovered millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for clients. Our firm is dedicated to ensuring that individuals and companies who commit wrongful acts that lead to someone’s tragic death do not get away with their bad behavior.

If you and your family have lost a loved one due to the wrongful acts of another party, reach out to Phillips | Tadros, P.A., for a free initial case evaluation. A Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyer from our law firm can help you understand your family’s legal rights to pursue financial recovery and justice for your loved one’s passing.

Common Accidents That Can Lead to a Wrongful Death Claim

At Phillips | Tadros, P.A., our Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyers represent families who have had loved ones who died in accidents caused by the negligence of others, such as:

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida?

Under Florida Statute §768.20, a personal representative of the decedent (a decedent is the loved one who died) is the one to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The personal representative (usually the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate) recovers compensation in a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent’s surviving family and the decedent’s estate. In most cases, a close family member of the decedent, such as a spouse, child, parent, or sibling, will be named as the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate.

What Do You Have to Prove in a Wrongful Death Case?

In a wrongful death case, you must prove that the acts or failure to act of another party or other parties caused your loved one to die. Many wrongful death cases arise from accidents that would lead to a personal injury claim if the decedent had survived their injuries.

In these cases, you need to show that the party or parties who caused your loved one’s death failed to act as the law requires. For example, in a wrongful death case arising from a motor vehicle accident, you would need to prove that the other driver caused the crash because they were not operating their vehicle carefully and legally, such as by speeding or running a stop sign.

A wrongful death case does not require you to prove that a crime occurred. Although criminal activity can give rise to a wrongful death claim, the at-fault party does not need to be convicted of a crime for you to have a wrongful death case. In addition, while a criminal case requires proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, in a wrongful death case you only need to prove the at-fault party’s liability by a preponderance of the evidence, also known as “more likely than not.”

Types of Compensation Awarded for Wrongful Death

A wrongful death claim can allow a family to recover compensation for various losses that the family suffered due to their loved one’s death. Financial recovery in a wrongful death case can include money for:

  • Loss of the decedent’s companionship, care, guidance, and protection.
  • Loss of the financial support and services that the decedent provided to the family and their household.
  • Emotional pain and anguish experienced by surviving family members.
  • Medical, funeral, and burial expenses paid for by surviving family members.

In a wrongful death claim, the decedent’s estate may also pursue compensation for expenses and losses that the decedent incurred between their injury and death or that were incurred directly by the estate, including:

  • Lost wages or income from work the decedent missed between their injury and death.
  • Loss of the increase in value of earnings, benefits, and assets that the decedent would have accrued had they lived.
  • Costs of last injury or illness incurred by the decedent.
  • Funeral and burial expenses paid by the estate.

Statute of Limitations for Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Under Florida’s statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits in Florida Statute §95.11, you typically have only two years from a loved one’s death to file a lawsuit against the party or parties responsible for their death. However, the statute of limitations does not apply to wrongful death claims involving murder or manslaughter; you can file these claims in court at any time after a decedent’s death.

If you file a wrongful death claim after the statute of limitations runs out on the claim, you and your family may lose your right to recover compensation for your and your deceased loved one’s expenses and losses. For that reason, you should not wait to talk to a Fort Lauderdale wrongful death attorney from Phillips | Tadros, P.A., to ensure that your family’s rights are timely filed.

How Are Florida Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

Many wrongful death claims are resolved by a settlement, in which a decedent’s family and estate are paid agreed-upon compensation in exchange for the decedent’s personal representative and family ending their wrongful death claim against a liable party or parties.

Because a wrongful death claim can involve a substantial amount of compensation, a settlement is paid in one of two ways: as a lump sum, where the entire settlement amount is paid all at once, or as a structured settlement.

A structured settlement involves installments paid over time, such as monthly, quarterly, or annual. Some structured settlements may have a large initial payment up front, with the remaining settlement balance paid in installments. In contrast, other structured settlements may start with small payments and conclude with a large final “balloon” payment.

A structured settlement may seem less favorable than a lump sum settlement because a decedent’s family will have to wait to receive full compensation. But structured settlements often lead to families receiving more compensation than a lump sum settlement because liable parties can spread out the financial hit of the payment over time and therefore afford to pay a larger settlement.

Attorney Chris Tadros studying a lawsuit.

How to File a Wrongful Death Case in Florida

If beneficiaries want to file and pursue a wrongful death claim in Florida, they must go through several steps. These include:

  • Establishing an estate administration for the decedent’s estate because only the personal representative may pursue a wrongful death claim in Florida.
  • Investigating the circumstances of a decedent’s death to recover evidence that shows who caused their death.
  • Documenting expenses and losses incurred by a decedent’s family or estate.
  • Presenting notice of the wrongful death claim to the party or parties liable for the decedent’s death. This may take the form of an insurance claim, a demand letter, or a notice of tort claim if the state or a local government may be held liable for the decedent’s death.
  • Pursuing settlement negotiations to resolve the wrongful death claim without needing to go to court.
  • Filing a complaint in court in the county where the decedent’s death occurred if the parties cannot settle.
  • Serving a copy of the complaint and summons on the party or parties named as defendants in the lawsuit.
  • Engaging in discovery, which is the process where parties exchange evidence and depose witnesses to narrow down the issues for trial.
  • Going to trial if the parties cannot settle. Both parties will present their evidence and witnesses to a judge and, usually, a jury.

When you contact us, we’ll discuss how our lawyers can guide you through the claims process and advocate for your family’s rights.