Lakeland Wrongful Death Lawyer
When a vehicle strikes a pedestrian, motorcyclist, or bicyclist, it seriously affects their life. In some cases, the accident cuts short their life. Sometimes hospitals make mistakes, doctors fail to diagnose a fatal disease, anesthesiologists miss important signs of distress when a patient is undergoing a surgical procedure.
Any single incident of negligent behavior can not only cost someone their life but leaves their devastated family behind. Knowing the death of a loved one could have been prevented if someone had used better judgment makes the loss even more painful.
If you lost a loved one because someone else behaved recklessly or negligently, Lakeland wrongful death lawyers Frank and Jennifer Fernandez can help you. While money does not come close to making up for the grief of losing a loved one, we can help you seek compensation for your loss so your family does not have to live with the financial consequences of someone else’s reckless negligence.
Table of Contents
- Understanding Wrongful Death Claims
- Facts About Wrongful Death Cases in Florida
- Establishing the Identity of Liable Parties in Wrongful Death Claims
- Recovering Damages in Wrongful Death Claims
- Dealing With Insurers and Wrongful Death Claims
- The Cost of Wrongful Death Claims
- Contact a Lakeland Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Wrongful Death Lawyers Who Get Results
No amount of money will ever make up for the loss of a loved one. However, survivors should recover compensation for their loss. Some of the wrongful death verdicts the Fernandez Firm Accident Injury Attorneys has successfully negotiated include:
- $2,600,000 – This wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the elderly mother of the late plaintiff, on behalf of her surviving 16-year-old granddaughter.
- $600,000 – Medical malpractice lawyer Frank Fernandez recovered the full amount of a statutorily capped settlement against a hospital whose negligent staff caused the wrongful death of a child following a routine appendectomy.
- $450,000 – The firm reached this personal injury settlement for the widow and children of a pedestrian struck and killed by a motor vehicle.
Our past success does not mean we can guarantee a positive outcome in your case. However, what you can take from our track record is that we work tirelessly to hold people accountable for the losses our clients have suffered. Whether we successfully negotiate with the insurance company or must go to court, if you work with us, we will advocate tirelessly for you and your family.
Understanding Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful acts can include negligence, such as reckless driving, or intentional attacks, such as assault or battery.
Either an individual or a company, such as a corporation that fails to clean up toxic chemicals near a populated area or a manufacturing plant that fails to protect its workers through proper safety protocols, can cause wrongful deaths.
Surviving family members could hire a wrongful death lawyer to file a wrongful death claim if their loved one died because of someone else’s negligent actions or failure to act.
Some examples of wrongful death cases include:
- Car accidents – If you lost a loved one due to a roadway accident, you may file a wrongful death claim.
- Commercial vehicle accidents – If a semi-truck or other commercial vehicle collides with a passenger car, catastrophic injuries and death can occur. The accident might be the fault of the truck driver, the trucking carrier, or the truck manufacturer.
- Medical misdiagnosis – If a physician fails to diagnose your disease correctly, you may miss the opportunity for life-saving treatments. If a correct diagnosis comes too late, treatments may fail.
- Workplace negligence – Many industries, like construction, manufacturing, and oil and gas, are, by nature, dangerous. Deadly accidents can happen if supervisors don’t enforce safety protocols or fail to follow OSHA safety standards.
- Homicide – When someone deliberately takes another person’s life, the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death claim against that person. The estate may file a lawsuit against a restaurant, bar, hotel, or other commercial property if the wrongful death happened because of negligent security.
- Surgical error – When someone loses their life because of a mistake a medical provider made during a surgical procedure, the estate may file a wrongful death claim.
- Defective or malfunctioning consumer products – If a company knowingly releases a dangerous product to consumers or fails to address a design or manufacturing flaw that causes harm or death, they may be held liable for their negligence and oversight.
These are not the only circumstances in which wrongful death results; they are just among the most common. If your loved one died from another party’s careless, reckless, or malicious actions, you may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim.
Facts About Wrongful Death Cases in Florida
The most common causes of wrongful death from unintentional injuries in Florida were:
- Car accidents – In one recent year, Polk County had 148 deaths from car collisions. In Florida, drunk drivers caused 814 deaths from driving collisions.
- Workplace accidents – In one recent year, 275 workers died on the job in Florida. Transportation accidents and slips, trips, and falls were the most common injury causes.
- Medical malpractice – In one recent year, patients filed 79 cases of malpractice medical in Florida, per insurance company oversight reports.
While these numbers may seem small, each number is the loss of a loved one and a family forever changed.
Constructing a Wrongful Death Case in Florida
Your wrongful death attorney will address the fundamental legal questions to determine if you can file a wrongful death claim. These questions include:
Was the victim owed a duty of care?
A duty of care is the requirement that one acts toward other people with the attention, watchfulness, prudence, and caution that a reasonable person in the same situation would act.
If a person or party’s actions don’t meet this standard of behavior or action, then their actions (or inactions) are considered negligent under the law. Therefore, plaintiffs can hold them liable for any harm or damages resulting from their negligence.
When we get into our car, we must accept that we owe other drivers on the road a duty of care. We must avoid driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, use extreme caution when using medication that may cause drowsiness, and take care to follow the law when operating a vehicle. If someone causes a roadway accident because they did not follow these laws, their victims can hold them liable for the damage they cause.
When someone goes to a doctor or hospital, the doctor and other attending medical providers owe them a duty of care. A person has the legal right to expect the doctor to follow professionally acceptable standards, as they should. If the doctor fails to offer a reasonable standard of care, they may be liable for medical malpractice.
Did someone breach the duty of care?
When someone gets behind the wheel of their car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they breach their duty of care. The same standard applies if someone is driving recklessly, speeding, or otherwise violating the law of the road.
In medical malpractice cases, the duty of care extends to hospital staff and others involved in patient care. Doctors who perform the wrong surgery on a patient exhibit an abysmal breach of duty of care.
To determine a breach of the duty of care, we would first establish whether the party that caused the accident and subsequent wrongful death had a duty to act.
Our wrongful death attorneys can examine the evidence in your case to determine that the defendant had a duty to act, which includes establishing:
- The defendant created the risk or the element of risk that resulted in the death of another
- The defendant had a voluntary undertaking to protect the individual from harm (such as in a medical malpractice case)
- The defendant knew that their actions or conduct would harm or cause death to the individual
These scenarios can cover a variety of circumstances, from the relationship between a product manufacturer and a consumer to doctor and patient or employer/business owner and employee.
Did the duty of care harm the victim?
When someone loses their life because of another person’s actions or inaction, they suffer harm. Another way to view wrongful death claims is to think about what would have happened if the decedent had lived. If the person had survived their injury and had the grounds to file a lawsuit, chances are their estate (on behalf of their surviving spouse, children, or parents) may file a wrongful death claim.
Unintentional injury, per the Polk County Community Health Assessment, was the fifth-leading cause of death in the Lakeland/Polk County area, accounting for nearly 6 percent of the total deaths, or 57.4 for every 100,000 deaths. Men were nearly twice as likely to die from an unintentional injury in that year than women.
Furthermore, from the same health assessment, Polk County had a higher rate of unintentional injury deaths than the state of Florida. The assessment also noted that proper care could have prevented most injuries. People ages 25 to 64 had the highest death rates for unintentional injuries.
Note the demographic of the highest rate of wrongful deaths (death by unintentional injury). These individuals are likely primary breadwinners for their families or primary caregivers. They may have decades of earning potential to contribute to their families, which is taken from the families by their loved one’s untimely demise.
Or they may have years or decades of parental responsibilities for minor children, and these children may suffer due to the untimely death of a parent. Wrongful deaths affect families on multiple levels, and these families are entitled to seek financial justice from the party responsible.
Surviving family members in these cases may wish to speak with a Lakeland wrongful death attorney to determine if they have the basis for a wrongful death claim.
What is negligence in wrongful death cases?
The examples above note the first condition of negligence necessary for your wrongful death lawyer to prove in your case: negligence. In a wrongful death or personal injury claim, negligence is a failure to take the level of care that an average person with ordinary prudence would have taken under the same circumstances.
For example, in a case of wrongful death from medical malpractice, negligence would include the failure of a doctor to order tests to diagnose several conditions that may be the cause of the patient’s presenting symptoms when most doctors would have done so.
Negligence may be either inaction or omission—such as in the example above—or direct or overt actions.
For example, what if someone is texting while driving and hits a motorcyclist because they aren’t paying attention. A court may consider this negligent because a reasonable person should not text and drive. Negligence is the absence of a duty of care.
Establishing the Identity of Liable Parties in Wrongful Death Claims
Before a decedent’s estate or surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim, they must figure out who caused the death. In some cases, this could entail a relatively simple process, while others may involve multiple parties.
Here are some examples of potential issues in identifying who is liable for a wrongful death:
- Car accident victims – if a person lost their life because of a drunk driver, chances are the driver bears the main responsibility for the accident. This is a relatively straightforward rule since Florida does not hold alcohol servers liable for injuries caused by an intoxicated person in most cases. However, if the victim died in a collision with a tractor-trailer, additional parties, such as the trucker’s employer, could bear partial liability for the accident.
- Homicide victims – the person who committed the homicide is ultimately responsible for the death of your loved one. However, if the homicide took place in a parking area, such as at a hotel, shopping center, or other area, the facility may bear partial liability due to poor lighting or security.
- Malpractice victims – if someone loses their life due to medical malpractice, anyone on the medical team that cared for the victim may face wrongful death claims. Hospitals may also bear partial liability for the actions of medical personnel who made the mistake.
Attorneys Frank and Jennifer Fernandez commit to identifying the right parties in all wrongful death claims. They can help you identify the root cause of the death of your loved one and make sure the at-fault parties are held accountable for their actions.
Recovering Damages in Wrongful Death Claims
One can never replace a loved one with money. That said, a family should never have to bear the financial burden of their loss.
Most wrongful death claims in Florida include claims for:
- Loss of income – a family who loses a loved one can include the income their loved one would have earned had they lived in their wrongful death claim.
- Medical expenses – the estate often includes any medical expenses the victim paid for final medical care resulting from the accident in the wrongful death claim.
- Funeral and burial expenses – the wrongful death victim’s estate can also include the costs associated with the funeral and burial.
- Personal losses – wrongful death claims commonly seek to recover loss of companionship, loss of guidance, and loss of protection.
Talk with either Frank or Jennifer Fernandez regarding damages you may include in your wrongful death claim. Keep in mind, Florida does have a specific wrongful death act that will help guide your claim. A representative of the decedent’s estate must file wrongful death claims, not family members. A wrongful death lawyer can help guide you through this process.
Dealing With Insurers and Wrongful Death Claims
Insurance companies go out of their way to avoid paying claims. Remember this because it is true regardless of the type of claim. When you work with the Fernandez Firm Accident Injury Attorneys, we make sure the negotiations with the insurance company get off to the right start. We will not allow them to bully you into thinking their first offer is the final one. We know that this is not true, and they know it is not true.
Insurance company adjusters will likely contact you shortly after you file a claim. They may do one of two things to complicate matters. First, they may ask you to provide them with a medical history, and second, they may make you an offer right off the bat. Do not sign any medical releases and do not accept any offers without contacting Jennifer or Frank Fernandez first.
When you have lost a loved one, the state may file criminal charges. Insurance company adjusters may advise you that without a conviction for the underlying crime, they don’t need to pay any claims. This is simply not true. This is a tactic to attempt to get you to accept their first offer or give up entirely.
Insurance companies do not like it when they know someone has sought legal help. The reason for this is they understand lawyers like Frank and Jennifer Fernandez will take the time to make sure their clients understand their legal rights, and they will pursue a fair settlement no matter how long it takes. They know if they do not deal with us in good faith on your behalf, they must face us in court, and they generally hope to avoid that.
When the family of someone who dies due to a negligent or wrongful act contacts an insurance company, the company hopes to settle the matter quickly and for as little as possible. Remember that Florida has a two-year time limit for filing wrongful death claims unless the claim stems from a murder. The insurance company knows this, and they hope you do not know. They may try to stall and delay your claim for that long, if necessary. The sooner you contact Fernandez Firm Accident Injury Attorneys after losing a loved one, the better.
The Cost of Wrongful Death Claims
Families and estate representatives often worry about filing wrongful death claims because of the legal costs. After all, when your financial future is up in the air after losing a loved one, the last thing you need is to incur additional expenses.
Here are some things you should know when you work with Frank and Jennifer Fernandez on a wrongful death claim:
- The initial consultation and case evaluation are free.
- We do not collect any legal fees unless we win.
- You are always in control of whether to accept a settlement offer or not.
Fernandez Firm Accident Injury Attorneys will thoroughly explain their fee structure and how it works, plus any costs associated with court filings, document preparation, and other expenses in your case during a free case evaluation. You have nothing to lose by contacting Frank and Jennifer Fernandez and learning more today.
Work With an Experienced Lakeland Wrongful Death Lawyer
While getting a monetary settlement after losing a loved one will do nothing to ease your sorrow and heartbreak, a settlement can help you move forward confident your finances will remain stable.
The Fernandez Firm – Lakeland
100 S Kentucky Ave #285
Lakeland, Florida, 33801
I was recently injured in an automobile accident. Contacting the Fernandez Firm Accident Injury Attorneys was the wisest choice I made. They navigated me through the process from beginning to end. The outcome was positive and painless. I appreciate the hard work of your firm and highly recommend anyone else in a similar situation to contact you.