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What is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is a death caused by someone’s else negligence or recklessness, and, of course, when caused intentionally.

In Florida, family members, as defined in the Florida Wrongful Death Act, may pursue a wrongful death claim to hold negligent parties accountable. A claim must, typically, be filed within two years from the date of a loved one’s death. Survivors must prove the defendant(s) are liable due to wrongful conduct, which can be negligence, recklessness, intentional wrongdoing, and, for products of all sorts, if the product is defectively made, designed, or marketed.

Grieving families filing wrongful death claims are seek justice by holding those who caused the death accountable. These law suits are filed in what are called the civil courts because the legislature wanted to discourage family members from taking the law into their own hands against the wrongdoer. So the civil courts can provide compensation as a substitute for personal revenge. Also, when the one causing the death is in a business and similar wrongs can hurt or kill others in the future, families who prosecute wrongful death claims can help prevent future injuries and deaths.

Wrongful Death Claims Approved by the Legislature Include:

Medical Malpractice

A wrongful death claim may be filed when a patient dies from medical malpractice. Depending on the cause of death, a range of medical professionals may be held liable including general physicians and specialists such as surgeons, specific treating doctors, anesthesiologist, nurses, and other providers. A medical facility such as a hospital, surgical center or doctor’s office may also be liable.

Medical malpractice wrongful death claims are among the most difficult to prove and require the expertise of experience medical malpractice attorneys to determine who’s at fault and to prove a breach of the professional standard of care medical providers must comply with.

Products Liability

Companies that make products, machines, medications, or devices have the responsibility to see to it that they work as intended. For these claims (design defect, manufacturing defect, failure to warn of dangers) it must be shown that the product is unreasonably dangerous, or failure to warn of the product’s danger. This is a complex effort that requires lawyers with knowledge of the law, experience in product design and manufacture, the ability to finance the investigation, and the willingness and skill to take such cases to trial. Dangerous toys, defective airbags, defective tires and defective car seats, asbestos and other toxic exposures, and drugs and medical devices are examples of products liability wrongful death claims.

Automobile Crashes

Common causes of wrongful death automobile crash claims include distracted driving, intoxication or fatigue, improperly designed, built or maintained highways or roads, and failure to provide adequate road hazard warning signs.

Trucking Crashes

Crashes with large trucks (“tractor-trailers, semis, 18 wheelers”) are all too common. When cars and trucks collide, cars – and their occupants – lose. The size and weight of a truck compared to a car can often make any crash with a truck deadly.

Truck drivers have the legal duty to operate their trucks safely. Negligence in truck crashes often involves fatigue, driving more hours that allowed, speeding, distracted driving, drug or alcohol use, and failure to obey traffic safety rules. Trucking companies themselves have, and too often fail, to place and enforce safety rules and maintenance protocols. Because of the complexity of the trucking industry, other types of companies may also be liable when truck crashes occur. If an investigation finds negligence/violation of state or federal regulations, such actions can result in liability for wrongful death.

Slip & Falls

When dangerous premises are responsible for a death, premises liability comes into play. Slip and fall claims may be brought against a business, landowner, homeowner, landlord or the government, depending on the circumstances. To pursue a claim, we must show how the property owner was negligent, how their loved one was harmed and how their injury caused his or her death. Some common claims involve slips and falls. Other premises liability claims include dog bites, daycare/school injuries and fires and explosions.

If your loved one died due to a company or a person’s negligence, consider contacting me at (904) 632-2424 for a complimentary case evaluation.


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About The Author

Picture of Wayne Hogan

Wayne Hogan

Wayne Hogan, a Jacksonville native, has been with the firm since 1977. He graduated from Florida State University, where he received both his bachelor’s and J.D. degrees. He specializes in all areas of personal injury law. In addition to participating in many professional associations, he and his wife, Pat, are also actively involved in the community.