Miami Wrongful Death Claims: Understanding Your Rights

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Two teenagers from Lakewood Ranch, Florida tragically died after an accident that left their vehicle split in half. One of the teenagers, a 17-year-old boy, was operating a Mercedes when he failed to negotiate a curve and crashed into a tree in the median, according to CBS Miami.

Both the driver and his 15-year-old passenger died as a result of the crash. Our Miami car accident injury attorneys are deeply saddened by this news. Losing anyone in a preventable car accident is a tragedy, but it is especially gut-wrenching when those taken from us are so young.

Florida Highway Patrol officials suspect speed may have played a role in the crash, but continue to investigate. If it turns out that speed was a contributing factor, the family of the 15-year-old passenger may have a basis to pursue a wrongful death claim. This is a claim based upon a state law known as the Florida Wrongful Death Act.  

Understanding the Law in Florida When it Comes to Wrongful Death Claims

The Florida Wrongful Death Act allows survivors of a decedent to pursue damages for the loss of their loved one. In the incident above, the passengers’ parents would likely be the party pursuing damages under the Act.

Statute of Limitations

There is a time limit allotted to survivors of deceased to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida. That time limit is two years from the date of the incident. This means that if you fail to file a wrongful death suit in this two year window, you could be totally barred from pursuing damages.

Establishing a Wrongful Death Case

To establish that a wrongful death occurred, there must be evidence that an individual, or entity, owed a duty of care to the deceased and that their actions, or lack of action, breached that standard of care. As a proximate result of that action or inaction, the wrongful death occurred.  In the tragic car crash described above, the parents of the passenger would likely claim that the driver owed a duty to their son to operate the vehicle in a reasonably safe manner complying with the local traffic safety laws. If the evidence supports the claim that the driver was speeding, that is likely a breach of the standard of care, and the horrific accident was the proximate cause of the passenger’s death.

Damages Can Be Pursued

The parents of a child who dies in a preventable accident may pursue compensation for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury. The parents can also pursue restitution for medical and/or funeral expenses due to their child’s death.

In addition to compensatory damages, a Florida court has the ability to impose punitive damages against the at-fault party. Punitive damages are basically punishment damages. They go above and beyond restitution and are meant to send a signal that the at-fault party’s behavior will not be tolerated.  

Contact a Miami Wrongful Death Lawyer Today

Losing a loved one is heartbreaking, especially when the loss is totally unexpected, like in a car wreck. In these difficult moments, you need a legal advocate who will help take the burden off your shoulders. The law firm of Gerson & Schwartz is here to help. Our team of experienced Miami wrongful death attorneys know the law and will fight to advocate for the memory of your lost loved one.

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