The death of a human being is never easy, and families need adequate time, space and resources for grieving. Unfortunately, not all families in Florida are able to grieve peacefully. When the circumstances surrounding a loved one’s death were negligent, it is possible that they were the victim of a wrongful death.

Wrongful deaths are not as uncommon as you might think, and the impact is often devastating. Civil suits tend to be surviving family members’ best option for seeking related compensation, and you can pursue these cases even in the absence of criminal charges.

When is a death considered wrongful?

Just because a person’s death was tragic does not mean that it was also wrongful. Instead, the cause of death must stem from the misconduct or negligence of another individual. This may occur in any number of circumstances, including:

  • Murder
  • Criminal behavior
  • Car accident
  • Slip-and-fall incident

In some of these examples — including criminal behavior — the responsible party likely engaged in willful misconduct that led to a person’s death. However, a distracted driver can also be responsible for a person’s death, but rather through negligence.

Can I file a lawsuit for my loved one?

A representative of the victim’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit on his or her behalf. While the representative is usually a family member, this is not always the case. When this happens, most families maintain open and ongoing dialogue with the representative to remain up-to-date on the situation.

Contrary to popular belief, compensation from a successfully pursued wrongful death case will not go directly to the victim’s relatives. Instead, financial recourse is directed to the victim’s estate first, and from there family members typically receive a portion according to the will.

I think I have proof of negligence — what’s my next step?

You must have more than a hunch to file a successful wrongful death suit. Typically, you must demonstrate that another person’s intent or negligence led to a death that subsequently harmed surviving family members. Financial harm from a loved one’s death is usually a pivotal point in such claims.

The period following a loved one’s death is difficult and emotionally charged no matter the circumstances, but in the wake of another person’s negligence or harmful intent, dealing with all the necessary arrangements may feel impossible. Florida families often want to head straight for a wrongful death suit before they take the time to collect the necessary proof and evidence. Instead, it is usually best to seek guidance from a more experienced party who can accurately build the best case possible.