Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney

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Tampa Wrongful Death Lawyer

Losing a loved one unexpectedly is never easy, but it can be especially traumatic to know that your family member died because of another party’s wrongful act. If this has happened to you, an experienced Tampa wrongful death attorney may be able to help.

Compassionate Legal Counsel for Wrongful Death Claims in Tampa, FL

It’s possible for negligence or illegal misconduct to result in a person’s death, leaving their surviving loved ones to wonder how they can ensure accountability for the party responsible and how to recover from the economic fallout of the situation.

When one party causes harm to another party, it can form the basis of a personal injury claim. The main objective of a personal injury claim is to make sure that the at fault party, or tortfeasor, is held liable for the damages that their negligence caused and to recover compensation for those damages for the injured party. However, if the victim does not survive, their family would have the option of starting a wrongful death suit instead of the personal injury claim they could have filed if they had survived.

Benefits of Hiring a Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney

The attorney at Paul Figueroa Law can provide the compassionate legal guidance you will need for a wrongful death suit in Tampa. Our team has years of professional experience helping clients throughout the Tampa area with all types of civil claims for damages, including many types of personal injury claims as well as wrongful death actions.

Florida law does not strictly require that you hire a legal representative for a wrongful death claim, but this type of civil case involves various strict procedural rules that will be very difficult for the average person to manage effectively on their own. Even if you think the fault for a recent wrongful death is perfectly clear, the reality is that any such case can present a wide range of complex issues that you will need help resolving.

Paul Figueroa Law, Skilled Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney

Working with a seasoned Tampa wrongful death attorney offers the greatest chance of success with your impending proceedings in the civil court system. Your attorney can help you meet the procedural prerequisites of your case, meeting all applicable filing deadlines and gathering the materials that will form the foundation of your wrongful death suit.

When you hire Paul Figueroa Law to present your wrongful death case, you will have a legal advocate readily available to answer questions and provide guidance throughout all stages of your case. You can rely on our team to answer any questions you may have as they arise throughout these difficult proceedings.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims

It’s possible for wrongful deaths to occur from negligent acts, intentional criminal misconduct, defective product failures, and various forms of professional negligence. Some of the most commonly reported causes of wrongful deaths throughout the Tampa area include:

  • Car, truck, or motorcycle accidents. Such incidents are the leading causes of accidental injuries and deaths throughout the United States each year. If your family member died from an accident that another driver caused a Tampa wrongful death attorney can help you make sure that the at-fault driver is held accountable for the damages that they have caused.
  • Product defects. Manufacturers are required to ensure their products are safe, effective, and perform as advertised without presenting any unreasonable safety risks to end users. If a defective consumer product caused your family member’s death, this can form grounds for a wrongful death claim under Florida’s product liability laws.
  • Intentional criminal acts. If your family member was intentionally killed by another person, that person faces a murder charge from the state and will be liable for wrongful death in civil court. Violent assault, domestic violence, and driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs are some of the most commonly cited causes of fatal injuries that qualify for criminal prosecution in Tampa.
  • Work-related accidents. Many workers are covered by workers’ compensation insurance through their employer, which can pay various types of benefits if they are injured while working. Workers’ compensation insurance may also provide death benefits to a deceased employee’s family if they died on the job. However, if a specific party directly caused your family member’s death at work, it can be the foundation for a wrongful death suit.
  • Premises liability. It’s possible for a slip and fall or similar accident on private property to result in fatal injuries. If your family member died due to a property owner’s failure to take proper care of their premises, you likely have grounds for a wrongful death suit under Florida’s premises liability laws.
  • Professional misconduct, such as medical malpractice. Thousands of residents undergo medical procedures each year, and there is some level of risk with almost any type of surgical operation or other medical procedure. However, if a medical professional causes a fatal injury due to malpractice, they can face professional consequences such as loss of their medical license along with liability for wrongful death.

If you believe your family member died because of another party’s actions in Tampa, your first priority is proving the exact cause of the death. Similar to a personal injury case, you must identify the party or parties responsible for causing the death and then prove exactly how they caused it. The evidence you may need to firmly prove liability for the wrongful death will vary based on the unique details of your case.

Proving Negligence in a Wrongful Death Claim

Paul Figueroa Law can work closely with you to help compile the evidence needed to firmly establish fault for the death. Depending on the nature of the fatal incident, proving fault may require a combination of physical evidence, digital records, witness statements, and expert witness testimony.

Most wrongful deaths are the results of “negligence,” a legal term used to describe a failure to act with reasonable care in a specific situation. Proving negligence will require evidence that the defendant in the case held some duty of care that they breached or otherwise failed to meet and, in doing so, directly caused the death.

Various forms of evidence may come into play when proving fault for a wrongful death, and the right attorney is an invaluable asset for this stage of a wrongful death claim. You must prove the defendant breached a duty of care, directly caused the damages, and provide clear proof that those damages did not result from any other cause.

Burden of Proof in a Wrongful Death Claim

In a criminal case, the jury must find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means the jury must reach a unanimous agreement that there is no evidence to suggest the defendant may not be guilty of the charges. In a civil case, such as a wrongful death claim, the burden of proof is much lower.

Success with a wrongful death claim will require proving fault based on a preponderance of the evidence. Your Tampa wrongful death attorney can help gather the various forms of evidence you may need to prove that the death would not have occurred but for the defendant’s negligence or intentional misconduct.

How to File a Wrongful Death Suit in Tampa

While starting a wrongful death suit in Tampa may follow a similar process to what you could expect when proving fault for a personal injury, there are special rules that apply to wrongful death cases that you must understand. State law limits the ability to make a wrongful death claim to the personal representative of the deceased’s estate.

If the deceased did not have an estate plan in place, the surviving family may petition the court to assign a personal representative to handle the case. This representative must provide a list of all the deceased’s beneficiaries, and the proceeds of a successful wrongful death claim will go to these individuals.

Your Tampa wrongful death attorney can help investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding the death, compile the evidence needed for your claim, and ensure you satisfy all legal prerequisites for filing the case. Once the case is filed, it is possible for it to proceed in two possible directions. Either the defendant can accept liability and agree to negotiate a settlement, or they may deny liability and demand a trial.

Claimable Damages in a Wrongful Death Suit

The objective of a personal injury claim is for the victim to recover recompense for the damages that the defendant inflicted. A wrongful death claim functions similarly but seeks recompense for the losses incurred by the deceased’s estate as well as those sustained by the surviving family. An experienced Tampa wrongful death attorney can help identify all the claimable damages you could seek in your claim, which may include:

  • Compensation for all medical expenses related to the deceased’s final injury or illness.
  • Lost income between the time of the fatal incident and the victim’s death.
  • Funeral and burial expenses.
  • Lost financial support that the deceased could have provided to their family in the future.
  • Recompense for the surviving family’s pain and suffering. The deceased’s surviving spouse could claim loss of consortium, while their surviving children could claim loss of parental guidance and companionship.

State law does not place any caps or limits on the compensation in a wrongful death suit, with the sole exception of medical malpractice claims, in which pain and suffering damages are capped at $500,000.

The average person may be able to account for immediately recognizable economic losses, but accurate calculation of the full long-term damages resulting from wrongful death can be very difficult without an attorney’s help. When you hire Paul Figueroa Law to present your wrongful death suit in Tampa, our goal is to help you and your family recover as fully as the law allows.

Our firm will help you identify the financial losses resulting from your family member’s death. When determining compensation for pain and suffering, the average person is likely to struggle to come up with a fair amount to account for losses like the loss of companionship and affection following a loved one’s death. We know how to make reasonable calculations in these situations and will help your family recover as much as possible in non-economic damages.

Additional Factors That May Influence Your Case Award

Every wrongful death claim is unique, and it is possible for unexpected variables to arise and influence your final case award. For example, if the defendant in your claim caused the death through any illegal misconduct, a judge is likely to award your family punitive damages alongside your other claimed damages. If the defendant is tried in criminal court, the judge who sentences them may add restitution as part of their punishment.

On the other hand, some issues could diminish the case award from a wrongful death suit. For example, the state follows a comparative fault rule with a plaintiff fault threshold of 50%. This means that a plaintiff in a civil claim can still recover compensation if they are partially at fault, but only if they are less than 50% at fault. If your family member contributed to causing their fatal accident, this could diminish the final case award from a wrongful death suit.

If a plaintiff is found to be 50% or more at fault in a civil suit, they lose the ability to claim compensation from the defendant. This same rule applies to wrongful death claims, so if your family member contributed to causing their own death in a significant way, this could prevent success with a wrongful death claim. Your Tampa wrongful death attorney will know how to address any such variables present in your case.

Penalties for Wrongful Death

If the defendant in your wrongful death suit caused the death through any type of intentional and illegal misconduct, criminal prosecution is likely. The state may file criminal charges against them, and your civil wrongful death suit may unfold in tandem with the criminal case filed by the state.

Depending on how the defendant caused the death, they could face very heavy fines, incarceration, and other penalties. If they caused the death through an intentional act of violence, they are likely to face felony prosecution and go to prison, whereas if they caused it through professional misconduct like medical malpractice, they could lose their professional licenses.

Settlement Versus Litigation

The majority of civil claims for damages filed in Tampa and across the state are not resolved in the courtroom. Litigation is stressful, expensive, and very time-consuming for all parties involved in a case. Most civil claims are instead resolved through private settlement negotiations.

During the settlement process, the parties involved in a civil suit will meet with their respective attorneys and attempt to negotiate mutually acceptable terms for resolving the claim. It’s possible to privately settle a personal injury claim or wrongful death suit as long as the defendant accepts liability for the damages.

However, litigation can be necessary for many reasons. Your Tampa wrongful death attorney can help pursue a settlement to streamline your family’s recovery, but litigation may be required for various reasons, and you must be prepared to go to court if necessary. Settlement typically takes far less time to complete than litigation, so it is generally preferable to settle a civil suit if possible to avoid the time commitment, stress, and additional experience of litigation.

What to Expect From Your Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney

Ultimately, every wrongful death claim is entirely unique, and there is no single solution that will work for every case. When you hire Paul Figueroa Law to present your family in a wrongful death suit, you will have a responsive legal representative who can address any concerns and answer your questions as they arise throughout your proceedings.

Our firm’s goal in every wrongful death suit we accept is to help our client approach the civil claim filing process with confidence and secure the optimal results in their claim. Money cannot bring back a lost family member, but a suitable case award can provide a sense of closure and help the surviving beneficiaries adjust to their new circumstances more easily.

Contact Paul Figueroa Law Today

You have a set time in which to file a wrongful death suit in Tampa. State law imposes a two-year statute of limitations for these claims. This means a personal representative of the deceased has two years from the date of the death to file their wrongful death claim. This may sound like more than enough time, but it can take longer than you might expect to compile the materials needed to file your case successfully.

The sooner you reach out to an experienced Tampa wrongful death attorney, the more likely you and your family will have time to work with that attorney to prepare your case which could increase your chances to succeed with your wrongful death claim. The team at Paul Figueroa Law is standing by to provide the compassionate legal support you need in this difficult time, so get in touch with us today to set up a consultation with a Tampa wrongful death attorney you can trust with your case.

Practice Areas

Criminal Defense
Personal Injury