When you are trying to cope with the grief and massive losses after losing a family member in an accident, it is comforting to know that you may be able to recover monetary damages under Florida’s wrongful death statute. The law is intended to compensate the victim’s loved ones for the losses they suffer, since they are indirect victims of such a tragedy. Of course, you probably realize that you must meet certain legal requirements to establish your rights. Under the circumstances, you probably wonder how you can provide essential evidence when the decedent is not around to offer it.
Fortunately, the relevant laws provide for such a situation. While you should entrust your case to a Miami wrongful death lawyer, you should understand the importance of proof-related issues.
Basic Elements of a Wrongful Death Case
Many fatal accidents occur through someone else’s careless or reckless acts, which is termed “negligence” in the practice of law. To recover monetary damages, you must establish four essential elements:
- The responsible party owed a duty of care to the victim;
- That person or entity breached this duty through unreasonably risky conduct;
- The breach of duty was a direct cause of the accident in which the victim was killed; and,
- You suffered losses because of the death of your family member.
The most common examples of negligence in wrongful death claims are motor vehicle crashes, accidents on dangerous property, negligent security, unsafe products, medical malpractice, defective products, and many others.
Sources of Proof When the Decedent Cannot Provide it
As you might expect, there are challenges in establishing the above elements because the key witness – the victim – is no longer alive to provide details. Medical records are available as proof of injuries and cause of death; income and paycheck information can establish lost wages. However, there may be little evidence regarding how the accident happened. For this reason, wrongful death attorneys rely on other evidence to establish fault, such as:
- Pictures and video of the scene of the accident;
- Accident and police reports;
- Video footage from surveillance cameras onsite or in close proximity to the incident;
- The observations of eyewitnesses; and,
- The decedent’s medical records.
In addition, lawyers work closely with experts in various specialty areas for support in a wrongful death case. Accident reconstruction experts often play an important role in proving fault, because of their extensive backgrounds in physics and related sciences. These specialists also have access and training in use of software that can present a 3D recreation of how an accident likely happened.
Contact a Miami Wrongful Death Attorney to Discuss Your Claim
This overview should be helpful, but you can count on our team at Gerson & Schwartz, PA to handle the details with proving your right to compensation in a wrongful death claim. If you would like to learn more about your legal options through an insurance claim or litigation, please contact our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL. We can schedule a free consultation to review your circumstances and assess the best strategy for moving forward.