Wrongful Death Attorney
Each year, millions of Americans are killed or severely injured in automobile collisions. Many of the injured eventually die from their injuries. When death results from a motor vehicle collision through the fault of the other driver, it is usually termed a “wrongful death.”
Reduced speed limits, better seat belts, contoured seats, and air bags have done a lot to reduce injuries and death, yet people still die as passengers in vehicles as a result of the other driver’s carelessness.
Selecting a Personal Representative
When a wrongful death occurs, an estate has to be opened and a personal representative appointed. A person dies one of two ways, either with a will or without a will. If the person dies with a will, the will names and determines whom the personal representative will be. If the person dies without a will, he or she is deemed “intestate” and a personal representative will be selected by all the heirs or by hearing in front of a probate judge. Florida Statute §733.301 provides the preference under which persons are selected. The surviving spouse or, if none, the nearest relative usually is selected. The majority of heirs can nominate a person. Florida Statute provides who is not qualified. Felons, minors, or persons physically or mentally unable to perform the duties are not qualified.
Wrongful Death Damages
Once appointed, the personal representative (formerly known as the executor) brings the wrongful death claims for all survivors. If you have read this far, you can now determine that you need a skilled attorney in matters of wills and probate just to get to this point. Attorney Jerry B. Wells has been involved with the selection and appointment of personal representatives thousands of times throughout the years. If you are in this position, you need someone who is skilled in fighting to get his client appointed as the personal representative.
The personal representative brings the wrongful death claim for all surviving members of the decedent’s family.
In order to file a wrongful death claim, you need an attorney experienced in this type of litigation. Jerry B. Wells has been handling personal injury and wrongful death cases for decades and has the necessary experience to maximize a client’s recovery. The potential damages for wrongful death are set out in Florida Statute §768.21.
The claim is divided into two basic parts. The first is the individual survivor part. For example, each survivor may recover for lost support and services and for future loss of support and services. Life expectancy of the deceased and the survivors may be considered.
The surviving spouse may recover for the loss of his/her spouse’s companionship, protection, and for the mental suffering. Minor children and all children if the surviving spouse is deceased, may recover for lost parental companionship, instruction, guidance, and mental pain and suffering.
The Estate’s Damages
The personal representative may recover loss of earnings for the estate if the deceased was earning money at the time of his/her death. Loss of prospective net accumulations can be recovered for an estate.
Settlement or Trial of Wrongful Death Cases
Most good cases are settled before going to trial. A good case for the plaintiff consists mainly of 3 elements:
- Clear liability: This basically means the fault for the accident obviously rests with your opponent.
- The plaintiff is the personal representative of the deceased.
- Coverage: This means that the at-fault driver has sufficient insurance to adequately compensate you for your injuries and the death that has occurred.
When all these factors can be illustrated to the at-fault driver’s insurance company, a wrongful death lawyer can then obtain a very favorable settlement for clients. In the event a favorable settlement cannot be obtained, Mr. Wells can and will try the case. Attorney fees for these cases are almost always handled on a contingency-fee basis.
Wrongful death cases are a natural part of Mr. Wells’ practice. Heavy involvement in the administration of and litigation in estates makes wrongful death a continued component of Mr. Wells’ litigation practice.
One final note: Regular injury cases covered by auto accidents generally have a 4-year statute of limitations. In Florida, there is a shorter 2-year statute of limitations to file your wrongful death action.
Contact Us Today
If a wrongful death has occurred, give us a call. Jerry B. Wells, Attorney and Counselor at Law, in Daytona Beach will give your case the justice it needs and get you the compensation you deserve.