When you lose a loved one, the consequences may be devastating both emotionally and financially. The situation might be especially hard to deal with when the loss was untimely and potentially caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another person. In these types of scenarios, families often want answers but may not be sure how to proceed without a St. Petersburg wrongful death lawyer.
An experienced personal injury attorney’s guidance could investigate the circumstances of a death and determine whether a wrongful death action may be the right course of action. A lawsuit cannot bring back a loved one, but it may help provide assistance to make up for lost support and services.
Types of Damages Available
Florida’s wrongful death statutes are intended to ease a situation where a family is bearing a loss by shifting the burden to the party whose wrongdoing caused the loss, as emphasized in Florida Statutes §768.17. Through a wrongful death lawsuit, surviving family members who relied on the deceased person for support may be entitled to monetary damages to compensate for a variety of factors, including:
- The value of financial support provided by the deceased
- The value of services provided by the deceased
- Loss of companionship and protection
- Mental pain and suffering
- Loss of instruction and guidance
- Medical and funeral expenses
- Lost earnings
The relationship between the deceased person and the survivor filing suit on their behalf plays a key role in determining the type of compensation that survivor may receive. Some types of compensation may be recoverable only for the “estate” of the deceased person.
An estate is the collection of the deceased person’s assets and liabilities. After a death, the estate could be managed for a time to clear up outstanding debts, and then the remainder may be distributed according to a will or the division of property defined by law. A wrongful death attorney in St. Petersburg could help clarify how this process might play out in an individual plaintiff’s case.
Who Could File a Suit
The statutory wrongful death provisions in Florida specify that any such lawsuit must be brought by a personal representative of the estate who works for the benefit of the decedent’s surviving family. As per Fla. Stat. §768.18, survivors eligible to receive compensation after a wrongful death include spouses, children, parents, and blood relatives or adopted brothers and sisters who relied on the deceased person for services or financial support.
While all survivors may seek damages for lost support, only certain family members are entitled to recover damages for mental pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and other specific intangible consequences. The parties entitled to those types of damages may vary depending on the circumstances, such as whether the deceased was survived by a spouse or left minor children behind.
Time Limit to File a Claim
The Florida statute of limitations on a wrongful death claim is two years in most circumstances. Claims not filed within two years of the date of death may be time-barred, and filing family members may, as a result, be unable to recover compensation.
If retained by a deceased person’s surviving family, a St. Petersburg wrongful death lawyer could help ensure that no such deadlines are missed. It may be important for families considering a wrongful death lawsuit to take prompt action not only because of the statute of limitations but also because it may be easier to collect and preserve evidence close to the time of the incident that caused the death.
We Offer Free Consultations
It’s easy to underestimate the financial impact of losing a family member until you experience such a tragedy firsthand. If the deceased was a primary source of family income, or if significant medical bills were incurred as a result of the fatal accident, you may be concerned about your financial future.
At Emerson Straw, we understand the adversity you are facing. That’s why we offer free consultations and accept cases on a contingency fee basis. You won’t have to pay anything upfront to get the advice you need to make informed decisions, and if we don’t win your case, you won’t owe any attorneys’ fees.
Qualities That Set Our Wrongful Death Lawyers Apart
Your choice of wrongful death attorney could be one of the most important decisions you ever make. Some lawyers are overworked or lack the knowledge or experience to provide exceptional representation. Others are reluctant to enter litigation and may, therefore, advise you to accept an unfair settlement.
At Emerson Straw, we are passionate about helping accident victims and their loved ones obtain the full compensation they deserve. No matter the value of your claim, we will use all the resources at our disposal to pursue the highest possible settlement or verdict. If the opposing party refuses to cooperate, we will relish the opportunity to file a lawsuit and proceed all the way to trial if necessary.
Here are just a few qualities that set us apart from other wrongful death lawyers in St. Petersburg:
- A Track Record of Success in Wrongful Death Cases: Our attorneys have won substantial payouts for clients in wrongful death cases. With a mastered understanding of the relevant statutes and case law, our lawyers provide tenacious representation through every stage of the proceedings. We can make sure your claim accounts for all the damages you may be owed so you don’t end up accepting an unfair settlement. We are able to anticipate disputes before they arise, which often allows us to avoid complications that would draw out the proceedings or prevent our clients from obtaining the full compensation they deserve. Our attorneys have built a reputation as tough litigators, so insurance companies tend to think twice before taking our clients to litigation.
- Extensive Litigation Experience: Even if you have strong evidence to support your claim, there’s no guarantee that the opposing party will cooperate and pay a fair settlement. For this reason, it’s important that you hire a skilled and accomplished litigator. This will send a message to the defense that you expect a reasonable settlement, and you have the means to enter litigation if they refuse to cooperate. Other attorneys might be hesitant to enter litigation, but our lawyers will not shy away from a fight.
- Honesty: Some attorneys simply say what the client wants to hear to attain their business. But at Emerson Straw, we are honest with our clients from day one. That means we will be transparent regarding any weaknesses in your claim and the disputes that are most likely to arise. Hiring an attorney who practices with integrity can make the claims process far less stressful because you will be adequately informed about what to expect throughout the proceedings.
- Accessibility: When you have questions, you deserve prompt and detailed answers. When you hire our law firm for representation, you won’t have to go through a dozen secretaries to reach your attorney; you will be provided with a direct line of contact. This again can make the proceedings far less arduous for you and your loved ones.
Wrongful Death Statistics
With advancements in safety technologies and laws that are intended to prevent serious injuries, you might think that fatal accidents are rare. The unfortunate truth is that wrongful deaths occur far more often than they should in the United States. Below are a few statistics that highlight just how frequently these tragic events occur. Our data was compiled from 2017 research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- More than 169,000 people died from unintentional injuries
- That adds up to 52.2 deaths per 100,000 population, making unintentional injuries the third-leading cause of death in the United States
- More than 36,000 people died from unintentional falls
- At least 40,200 people died in motor vehicle accidents
- Unintentional poisonings accounted for 64,795 deaths
- 19,510 people were killed in homicides, more than 14,000 of which involved firearms
We Won’t Let the Insurance Company Take Advantage of You
Like any other business, insurance companies will go to great lengths to protect their bottom line. It’s certainly not unheard-of for claims adjusters to use unscrupulous tactics to reduce the amount of compensation paid out to accident victims and their families.
The insurer might offer a settlement that undervalues certain damages or excludes them entirely. You may even be asked questions during a recorded phone call that are intended to elicit a response that can be used to dispute liability, causation, or damages.
The wrongful death lawyers at Emerson Straw have many years of experience negotiating with insurance companies. We know the strategies they use to deny and undervalue claims, and we won’t let them take advantage of you. The moment you hire our law firm, we will take over all correspondence with the claims adjuster so you don’t inadvertently provide statements that end up harming your case. We will also help you avoid critical mistakes that could end up jeopardizing your claim such as posting about the case on social media or missing critical deadlines.
How Soon Should I Contact an Attorney?
The loss of a loved one is a grievous experience that can make every day seem like a struggle. When faced with such emotional trauma, it can be difficult to perform routine tasks, let alone focus on legal matters. Unfortunately, if you put off your free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer in St. Petersburg, you may end up making a costly mistake that your attorney could have helped you avoid. Also, valuable evidence could be time-sensitive. Sometimes the defendant is in possession of essential evidence, and it is therefore vulnerable to being altered or destroyed. And if the insurance company contacts you to request a statement—which could happen within just days of the fatal accident—it is important that you are able to direct that phone call to your lawyer so you don’t end up saying something that would harm your case.
Once you’ve hired our law firm for representation, you will be able to focus on your family while your case proceeds in good hands. We will keep you informed through every stage of the proceedings. If you ever have questions about your case, your attorney will be just a phone call or email away.
Work with a St. Petersburg Wrongful Death Attorney
While most people may not like to think of legal matters during a time of mourning, a wrongful death claim could make the future easier to handle for family members who relied on the deceased for support of any kind. If a family member has suffered a death you believe may have been due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another, contact a dedicated St. Petersburg wrongful death lawyer to learn your options.