Orlando Wrongful Death Lawyer https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com Tina M. Willis, Esq. Wed, 15 May 2019 17:04:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 Wrongful Death Caused By Florida Car Accident? Things You Need To Know https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/car-accident-wrongful-death/ https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/car-accident-wrongful-death/#respond Wed, 15 May 2019 16:55:46 +0000 https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/?p=566 Wrongful Death Car Accidents: What To Know & Do ASAP Have you recently lost a close family member due to death from a car accident, where someone else was to blame?  Florida wrongful death lawsuits, when caused by auto accidents, have many unique legal landmines.  This article will highlight some of the most important. Despite […]

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Wrongful Death Car Accidents: What To Know & Do ASAP

Wrongful Death Caused By Florida Car AccidentHave you recently lost a close family member due to death from a car accident, where someone else was to blame?  Florida wrongful death lawsuits, when caused by auto accidents, have many unique legal landmines.  This article will highlight some of the most important.

Despite what we know is unbearable grief, there are many things you need to do very quickly, to avoid losing possibly a lot of value in any potential legal case.

(If you would like immediate answers to your questions, please do not hesitate to call or text to (407) 383-7290. We answer calls 24/7/365.  Attorneys either take calls immediately, or return calls very quickly.)

Never Speak To Any Insurance Adjusters

First, you should never, ever speak to any insurance adjuster, without talking a wrongful death lawyer first. Particularly in wrongful death cases, where values can be very high with the right insurance policy, insurance adjusters are often very aggressive (and stealthy) in their attempts to get information to destroy, or greatly reduce, the value of any subsequent lawsuit.

This also means you shouldn’t speak with any Uber, Lyft, or other business / corporate representatives.  No matter what they say, they do NOT have your best interests at heart. Their goal is ALWAYS to write the lowest dollar amount check possible.

How Car Accident Wrongful Death Damages Are Calculated

Many people do not realize that wrongful death damages relate, primarily, to two things: (1) evidence of fault in the accident, and (2) the closeness of the relationship(s) between the person who died, and the person, or people, trying to recover.

How Insurance Adjusters Try To Get Information To Lower Case Value

Since wrongful death damages relate to the closeness of the family relationships, in addition to whether the insured driver caused the accident itself, the insurance company will often aggressively seek information to either disprove fault in the accident, or to learn about family strife, of any type. There is no way to explain all of their tricks in this regard.

But they often say things that make them sound very helpful.  For example, they might say that the insurance company accepts liability for the accident.  This sounds good, but is totally meaningless if they haven’t put a dollar figure on their liability.  Or they might express or display sympathy, which, again, doesn’t matter unless they are putting their money where their mouth is.  Meanwhile, once they have you convinced that they want to try to help, they aggressively seek all kinds of information that could greatly reduce, or even eliminate, the value of your wrongful death car accident case. So the best approach is ALWAYS to hire an attorney to speak on your behalf.

Available Insurance Policies Are Often The Highest Possible Value For Any Auto Accident / Wrongful Death Case

The available insurance policies, or sometimes business worth, if any business caused the accident, usually set the upper limit on potential available recovery in wrongful death cases.

So someone tragically killed by a commercial vehicle, business, Uber or Lyft driver, or semi-truck, would likely have a much higher recovery than someone who had an accident with an individual driver. For that reason, we have settled wrongful death cases ranging from 10K (policy limits of an individual with no recoverable assets) to several million.

If you have a case that might be in the higher end of the range, it really is critical that you call us right away, as the insurance company will hire investigators & experts to collect negative evidence, sometimes as early as the same day as the accident.

What Evidence You Might Want To Start Collecting

Since we have to prove the closeness of your relationship with the person who died, you might want to try to start collecting and saving any evidence of your relationship with the person who died, or the joy he or she experienced in life, such as family photos, text or voice messages, videos, letters, or even objects or calendar entries.

What If You Had An Estranged Relationship With The Person Who Died?

If you had an estranged, difficult, or “complicated” relationship with the person who died, as long as you are a qualified survivor under Florida’s wrongful death statute, we can still often help. In those cases, we use a different, tailored strategy, depending on the unique facts of each case.

What Evidence We Need ASAP After Any Car Accident That Led To A Wrongful Death

We wrongful death lawyers need to begin collecting critical evidence as soon as possible after any serious accident. This might include things like black-box recordings, in semi-truck cases, or Uber or Lyft ride receipts, in Uber or Lyft accidents. We also may need to view the vehicles, or the accident scene, or talk to witnesses. Sometimes we need experts to examine the vehicle, to make sure there weren’t any product defects. In other cases, we need to make sure businesses save video recordings, which they aren’t required to save in Florida without notice that we might be filing a lawsuit. Or we might need phone records, which are often deleted very quickly.

All of these things are essential to maximizing case value. And many of these things disappear quickly, or are intentionally destroyed, after serious accidents that caused death. Since you will have the burden to prove your case, we need to get started collecting this evidence, as soon as possible after any auto accident that led to a fatality.

When There Are Multiple Survivors, The First To File Has Major Advantages

If there are multiple people who might file a lawsuit (for example, multiple siblings), filing first allows you to be in control of the case progression, and definitely can be the difference between zero recovery, and a high value recovery, for you. Often the first person to file is in the best position in the lawsuit. Ideally, everyone would agree to pursue the case together. But, if that’s not the case, it is best to be the first person to file in court.

If you are concerned about sensitive family strife issues, after any death, which is common, we can help.  We do everything possible to be sensitive to family dynamics, and grief, when handling any wrongful death lawsuit.  Our goal is to help you do what’s right for you.

Would You Like A Free Consultation?

There are many other factors to consider, in any car accident that caused a wrongful death. We will provide a free & thorough consultation, with our small team of award-winning & highly experienced lawyers. We have three lawyers on our team — all with many years of experience handling catastrophic injury and wrongful death lawsuits.  We will never shuffle your case off to an inexperienced or high volume lawyer.  We have handled many wrongful death cases caused by auto accidents, so are well-qualified to help you make the best choices, starting as soon as you call us.

You can call or text (407) 383-7290, 24/7/365.

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Who Might Be Legally Liable After A Mass Shooting? https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/mass-shooting-legal-liability/ https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/mass-shooting-legal-liability/#respond Thu, 29 Nov 2018 21:55:56 +0000 https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/?p=545 You may have heard that the parents of a young woman killed during a Texas mass shooting have recently filed suit against the parents of the shooter.   As an Orlando serious injury and wrongful death lawyer, the gun manufacturer immunity from liability law (otherwise known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act, […]

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You may have heard that the parents of a young woman killed during a Texas mass shooting have recently filed suit against the parents of the shooter.  

As an Orlando serious injury and wrongful death lawyer, the gun manufacturer immunity from liability law (otherwise known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act, or PLCAA), has always left me frustrated.

My first deep dive into the potential claims of shooting victims against gun manufacturers (or any other potential defendants) came after the Pulse shooting, in Orlando, Florida, when the family of one of the victims called me, hoping I would accept their case.

Should Shooting Victims’ Families Be Permitted To Sue?

For reasons I have truly never understood, some people get seriously offended about lawsuits following tragedies. And they often make terrible comments about the lawyers trying to help the families.  In my strong opinion, those types of criticisms are extremely misguided.

Lawyers who represent victims, like myself, do our level best to help families who often desperately need compensation to get on with their lives financially, after any tragic accident or death.  For example, if a young mother relied on her husband to pay the bills, but was overcome with grief after his death, she may not be able to support herself, or her children, for years to come. She might not be able to get out of bed, so how could she get on with life and pay the bills?

In other cases, at least in my opinion, regardless of financial need, the families of deceased relatives absolutely deserve compensation for their unimaginable pain and suffering.  Since the beginning of my practice, I have always felt a strong sense that I would trade every single penny in any wrongful death case, no question, if I could make the person come back.  Obviously that’s just not possible. But the family still deserves compensation when someone else’s negligence (or intentional act) causes them to lose a beloved family member.

Additionally, if we don’t punish wrongdoers (particularly large corporations), history proves that they often make unsafe decisions for financial gains.  (You can read just a few of the many examples through US history where lawsuits made products safer here and here.)  Lawsuits are the only way regular citizens can make sure large corporations and insurance companies care about safety.  And that check on corporate behavior keeps us all safer.

Unfortunately, most U.S. citizens have no idea that many, many federal and state laws have been passed over time, including gun laws, which have made it very difficult, or in many cases impossible, to sue negligent corporations (basically giving those corporations total or near total immunity). This has been a huge problem facing victims of many different types of accidents for 20+ years.  

As a result of 20-30 years of countless anti-victim laws being passed, there are huge categories of lawsuits that are now in the history books only.  In other words, personal injury & accident lawyers can’t accept many large categories of cases anymore, despite the fact that they had been pursued throughout our history as a country, which helped keep us all safer.  I really believe this is a constitutional / justice issue (as our 7th Amendment right to trial by jury is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution).  Unfortunately, conservative judges and lawmakers don’t agree with me.

Thankfully, as of the date of this article (Nov. 2018), we can still sue on behalf of seriously injured Florida auto accident victims, or the family members of those killed during accidents.  However, some important rights for accident victims have been significantly curtailed over the last many years.  And our basic ability to sue in auto accident cases, or the amount of potential compensation, could drastically change in Florida after the recent 2018 midterm elections guaranteed we will have anti-victim judges for a generation.  We can still also pursue other narrow categories of accident claims (like slip and fall cases, although, at least in Florida, even slip and fall laws have become much less victim friendly over the last 20 years). Despite the fact that we can still help many victims, the laws protecting certain highly profitable industries have made pursuing many previously viable lawsuits totally impossible. The bottom line is that serious injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice lawyers no longer accept many cases that they used to regularly pursue against corporations, or other defendants, when their negligent acts seriously injured or killed people.

Do Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyers Accept Frivolous Cases?

Many people also falsely believe that lawsuits are widespread and often frivolous.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of our federal and state laws have been gutted over the last 20 years, partly because of this rampant and dangerous false belief.  In my strong opinion, the gutting of pro-victim laws has been disastrous for the safety of everyone, because, again, if corporations don’t fear financial repercussions, history has proven, time and time again, that they absolutely will put profits over safety.  There are countless examples throughout our history, including things like Pinto gas tanks, flammable pajamas, asbestos, and many dangerous drugs and medical devices.  But there are thousands less well known examples — often with documentary evidence that proves corporations made cost benefit decisions, rather than putting safety over profits.

When Were Gun Manufacturers Shielded From Legal Liability?

As far as gun safety, back in 2005, George Bush, with a Republican Congress, passed a law that, almost entirely, shielded gun manufacturers from liability.  There are a few very narrow exceptions, where mass shooting victims can still sue. However, in almost every mass shooting case, these exceptions would not apply, meaning victims can’t successfully sue gun manufacturers.  For example, one of the narrow exceptions is negligent gun design, which usually can’t be argued or proven. (Before gun manufacturers were protected by this 2005 federal legislation, there had been many successful lawsuits against gun manufacturers — and it seems like fewer mass shootings — but I digress.)

Were Orlando Pulse Shooting Victims Able To Sue?

In the Orlando Pulse shooting, at least in our opinion, there was no good argument, under current federal law, that the gun manufacturers, or anyone else, could be held liable.

Notwithstanding the long-shot legal situation, some law firms pursued novel theories against Google, Facebook, and Twitter, for allowing hate to spread (you can read the detailed allegations, including what role the lawyers alleged these online giants played in the Pulse shooting, in their federal court complaint, which you can find here). The Pulse victims’ families also sued the police, the City of Orlando, the nightclub owners, and even the security agency that had trained the shooter in firearms during his work as a security guard.  Although we actually considered those legal theories (because we did research and found prior similar cases, filed in other mass shooting cases), we knew those were long-shot legal theories.

Most, if not all, of those Pulse shooting cases have been dismissed (I haven’t been able to officially confirm that status of the case against the nightclub; but the cases against all other defendants were dismissed by the judges, as having no legal merit, long before the cases reached a jury.)  The reason the judges dismissed these cases is because, in its current state, the law simply provides very, very few viable remedies to mass shooting victims (the law is more friendly to some other shooting victims, under a legal theory called negligent security — basically, if we can prove the crime was forseeable at a particular location, with evidence of similar past crimes (usually in high crime areas), then we can sometimes sue businesses if they didn’t have sufficient security).

Put differently, in 99% of the potential cases involving mass shootings (my rough mental math), there is no viable remedy against any defendant.

Sometimes law firms will take high profile cases strictly for publicity, even when they don’t really expect to win.  (That’s not something we would ever do and I have no idea about the motivations of the lawyers for the victims in the Pulse shooting case.)  On a more hopeful note, despite the victim-unfriendly laws, some lawyers continue to try to create new law by way of creative legal theories. (Many people do not realize that the law isn’t black and white, so not always clear. Sometimes there is room for creativity, or breaking new ground with novel theories regarding who was negligent, and why or how they should be liable.)  But most personal injury and wrongful death law firms, who only get paid if cases are successful (and have bills to pay, and operating expenses, themselves), cannot take the high financial and time risk, as a business matter, to accept cases that don’t have proven legal pathways to success.

Texas Mass Shooting Victim’s Family Sued Parents Of Shooter

So I was interested this morning when I read that the family of a Texas mass shooting victim has sued the parents of the deceased shooter.  I put this in the category of law firm trying to create novel legal theories — in other words, whether a judge will allow this case to move forward is a very open question.

The allegations against the parents sound pretty egregious to me (meaning, assuming the allegations are true, the shooter’s parents, in my opinion, should have done much more to help their son, and prevent his access to firearms).  You can read the complaint here.   

The victim’s family has alleged that the shooter’s parents negligently stored the firearms, and failed to get obviously needed mental health care for their son (who was the shooter, who killed 10 people, and injured 13 more, in a Santa Fe, Texas school shooting that happened in May of 2018).

If I had to guess, especially in Texas with their conservative judges, I would say this lawsuit probably will not succeed. But we’ll see.

Another issue is that lawyers have to get paid for their time.  That’s just reality. We are business owners who have to make money or we don’t eat.  So if a particular defendant has no money, we simply cannot risk the hundreds of hours need to handle a case, not to mention the sometimes many thousands of dollars some lawsuits require lawyers to advance on behalf of their clients, usually in the form of expert opinions, to successfully pursue any lawsuit.  That means suing parents who probably have very little money, and questionable insurance coverage, often will not happen.

In the meantime, we absolutely need to push for laws that will hold gun manufacturers responsible for deaths caused by guns.  Anytime any group of corporate manufacturers has no motivation to keep us safe, bad things happen.

To answer the original question posed by the title to this post, usually, no one is liable after a mass shooting.  However, there are extremely narrow exceptions. So it is always worth at least talking with a wrongful death lawyer, after any tragic shooting.  Personally, I’d greatly prefer if we would pass laws that would somehow cause these horrible shootings to stop.

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Fatal Car or Truck Accident: Surprising Facts About Value https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/fatal-car-truck-accident-value/ https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/fatal-car-truck-accident-value/#respond Wed, 22 Feb 2017 18:46:03 +0000 http://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/?p=431 Fatal Car Or Truck Accidents: Top 4 Surprising Facts About Case Values As an Orlando fatal auto accident lawyer, I can never say enough how every single call regarding a death under any circumstances is terrible.  We regularly receive calls regarding fatal car and truck accidents.  My first thought is always whether the person calling […]

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Fatal Car Or Truck Accidents: Top 4 Surprising Facts About Case Values

Fatal Auto Accident Lawsuit Value

As an Orlando fatal auto accident lawyer, I can never say enough how every single call regarding a death under any circumstances is terrible.  We regularly receive calls regarding fatal car and truck accidents.  My first thought is always whether the person calling was close to the person they lost.  When they were, I always start thinking about how life is so unpredictable, so unfair, and how much pain I would be feeling if the same thing happened to me.

But I am a lawyer.  So I have to put on my lawyer hat, which means that I have to give advice about what legal options might at least bring financial relief.  And, at least I figure, financial relief might eventually help with emotional healing — if only because having to survive, pay bills, and get through life can be next to impossible after losing someone you love. Of course, if you lost someone who was close to you, no amount of money will ever really help — and for that I am sorry.

If you have any question about the value of your fatal car or truck accident case, please call or text (407) 383-7290 immediately.  If we can accept your case, an attorney will answer all of your questions about how best to maximize your case value.

After A Fatal Car Or Truck Accident, You Need A Wrongful Death Lawyer As Soon As Possible

If you tragically lost someone you love as a result of a fatal car or truck accident, there are a number of important things to consider.  Ideally, we would talk to you very soon after the accident, so that we can preserve any necessary evidence.  As an example, we might want to buy the vehicle, so that we can prove air bags didn’t properly deploy.  We also might want or need to talk to any witnesses, or the police officers investigating the case.  Our immediate job is to stop you from saying anything to an insurance company or witness that could hurt your case value, and gather evidence.  We can do that job better the sooner we get involved.  (However, even if a long time has passed, we still can get a high value for the case — as long as there is some way of proving who caused the accident.)

First Surprising Fact: Only Certain Relatives Can Recover The Full Case Value

The first thing to consider is WHO can recover for losing someone after a car accident.  A girlfriend or boyfriend cannot.  The rules get somewhat complicated — generally a spouse or children can recover, although the amount of recovery varies depending on their age and connection (closeness) to the person who died.  Close spouses and children under 25 will recover the highest value.  For children over 25, if there is NOT a surviving spouse, they can still recover a high value (subject to insurance limits; see below).  If there IS a surviving spouse, then children over 25 would need to be totally financially dependent, and unable to work, to recover any money.  Very rarely, financially dependent blood relatives can also recover (must be 1o0%  financially dependent, and in true need of support, like a totally disabled person).  You can read more about WHO can recover here.

Second Surprising Fact: Case Value Is (Usually) Totally Dependent On Insurance Coverage

Recently, we have settled one wrongful death case for 20K, another for 75K, another for 100K, and another for 2 million (those were all before any attorneys’ fees or costs were deducted).  What was the difference?  Well, believe it or not, the ONLY meaningful / case value difference was the amount of insurance coverage.  Those were the ALL the policy limits of the defendant drivers, combined with uninsured motorist coverage.  In other words, there was no more money available from any source.  The defendants had no other assets, and all available combined insurance policies were those amounts.  The 2 million dollar case happened to involve a semi-truck, so the policy limits were much higher than an average non-commercial automobile.  Many non-commercial vehicles have insurance coverage ranging from 100K to 300K.  Occasionally a non-commercial vehicle will have 1 million in available coverage.  Commercial vehicles are usually (but not always) 1 million plus. But some non-commercial vehicles have no coverage at all (I still remember one call I received where a woman was, of course, completely devastated after losing her older but still hard-working father to a fatal auto accident in the wee hours of the morning on his way to work, coming around a blind curve.  Unfortunately, we could not help her, because the defendant driver didn’t have a penny of insurance or assets.)  Other  non-commercial vehicles have lower amounts of coverage, like 50K to 100K.

There are also some Florida statutes (laws) that require, or don’t require, various amounts of insurance, depending on the type of vehicle, or type of accident.  For example, because there is a Florida statute protecting lease holders (that’s the car dealership) from liability IF they require 100/300K in bodily injury insurance coverage, the vast majority of leased vehicles have at least that amount of coverage (sometimes more).  (Bodily injury coverage is the amount available to pay for injuries caused to accident victims.  The “100/300” is per person / per accident — meaning the maximum any one person can recover is 100K, and the maximum per accident is 300K.)  There are other Florida and federal statutes requiring higher amounts of insurance coverage for semi-trucks.  Motorcycle riders, and regular automobile drivers, aren’t required to have any bodily injury coverage, but many do.

There are also laws that require drivers to reject uninsured motorist coverage, in writing, whenever the person also purchases bodily injury coverage.  We always request this written rejection anytime there is no UM coverage, but there is BI coverage.

Another wrinkle is that sometimes there can be coverage above the bodily injury coverage, but no one investigates to find that coverage. Or there might be a commercial policy for someone driving their personal vehicle for work.  Of course, we carefully check all of those things.  We have worked with clients who came from other law firms who did NOT check for all possible insurance policies.  (We had one recent auto accident client come to us after working with a newer lawyer at a well-known local law firm, after they told him he could only receive 2K in recovery.  We just settled one of his cases for 1 million  (which was the policy limits), and are still pursuing a product defect case against the auto manufacturer because the air bags did not deploy in a brand new Nissan).

So, bottom line, we always carefully review the facts and law to verify whether there is any possibility of any additional coverage.

Believe it or not, even with lower policy amounts, we have to work hard to get the full amount.  We have had great success getting the full policy limits for many of our wrongful death clients.

Third Surprising Fact: The Closeness Of Your Relationship Matters

Anytime there is a death, the value of the pain and suffering damages is VERY dependent on the closeness of the relationship between the person who died, and the person filing the lawsuit.  If a spouse died, in a normal marriage, usually regular husband and wife arguments will NOT reduce the value of the case.  But, if the person was completely estranged, or separated, then we have a more difficult job.  However, there can still be a very high value, certainly worth pursuing, even for an estranged relationship.  We just have to dig to discover whether there was any attempt at connecting, any personal visits, letters, or phone calls, and over what time period.  We dig very hard to try to uncover the evidence that will help us prove the connection meant something important.  As an example, we settled one case for just over 420K (policy limits 1M), even though the children had only once seen their father in 25 years or so.  We were able to use other forms of communication and connection to prove the value of that case, and formulate a settlement strategy that worked to get the case settled very quickly.  So, the value of the case is HIGHLY dependent on the specific facts of your case, which is why we conduct a detailed intake interview to determine how best we can help.

Fourth Surprising Fact: Insurance Companies Are NOT Your Friend

Unlike the insurance companies who provided great service to my parents and grandparents, today’s insurance companies have only ONE goal, and that’s to pay you the least amount of money possible.  There have been books written about how the entire industry changed for the worse around the mid-1990s. Although adjusters will be nice, they will try to pay much less than they should.  They do this by asking questions designed to get information that lowers your case value.  So, please, do not talk to adjusters.  You need a lawyer by your side before giving any statements.

If you have lost a loved one after a fatal car or truck accident,  please call or text our office for an appointment. We make every effort to speak with new clients as soon as possible, so will meet the same day if at all possible.  Our phone number is (407) 383-7290.  We handle fatal auto accident cases all over Florida and Georgia.

 

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Shooting Death & Premises Liability Lawsuits: Can You Recover? https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/shooting-death/ https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/shooting-death/#respond Wed, 22 Feb 2017 00:39:09 +0000 http://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/?p=417 Shooting Death | Premises Liability Lawsuits As an Florida shooting death lawyer, I regularly receive phone calls from those who have lost loved ones from shooting events.  Over the last year or so, we have received an alarming increase in those calls.  Whether we can help by filing a wrongful death lawsuit, or not, varies greatly […]

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Orlando FL Shooting Death LawsuitsShooting Death | Premises Liability Lawsuits

As an Florida shooting death lawyer, I regularly receive phone calls from those who have lost loved ones from shooting events.  Over the last year or so, we have received an alarming increase in those calls.  Whether we can help by filing a wrongful death lawsuit, or not, varies greatly depending on the particular facts of each case.

(If you are wondering whether you might have a shooting death case, please call or text — 24 hours a day — (407) 383-7290.  A wrongful death lawyer will call you back as soon as possible after receiving any message.)

There are a vast number of ways that someone can lose their life through a shooting.  Perhaps the most memorable shooting call that I have received was from a family member of one of the victims of the Orlando Pulse massacre (whose case, unfortunately, we could not accept, due to limitations in Florida’s Worker’s Compensation statute).  But any shooting death call, and I have received many, is equally tragic.

First Question After A Shooting Death: Who Might Be Able To Sue?

The first question is whether the person calling me can recover for losing their loved one caused by a shooting death.  Only certain people are entitled to recover for the death of a loved one, regardless of the cause.  For shooting death cases, generally the spouse, children under 25, children over 25 (but only if there was no surviving spouse), parents (but only if there were no other survivors), and financially dependent blood relatives IF the dependence was very significant (like total dependence by someone with a complete and total disability).  The rules regarding who may recover after a shooting death are the same for all wrongful death lawsuits (except medical malpractice, which is more restrictive), and you can find those here.

Next Question After A Shooting Death: Is There A Possible Case?

The next question is whether there is any type of lawsuit that can be pursued.  Wrongful death lawsuits require that there be some person, or organization, or company, who was negligent.  That means there has to be someone, with money or insurance to collect, who did something wrong.

Obviously, anytime you have a shooting (unless it was self-defense), you have someone who did something wrong.  You have the shooter.  But, almost always, we can’t sue the person who fired the shot.  Many times, the family and police investigators don’t even know who did the shooting.  Even if they know, the criminal generally has no money, insurance, or assets.  A criminal would have to have substantial assets for us to sue them, because collections and bankruptcy laws make it very easy for most people to get around paying judgments.  Most of the time that means that we are trying to determine whether anyone else might share in the blame.

Usually Not A Good Defendant: Police & Prison Systems

One of the common calls I receive is people who want to sue either the police, or prison officials, for releasing someone with known dangerous tendencies, who then shot their loved ones.  There are statutes that limit recoveries against government agencies.  More importantly, convincing a jury that police or prison officials were negligent in releasing a criminal is an extremely unlikely scenario. So, while technically there might be a case, we would not pursue this type of case.

Possibly A Very Good Defendant: The Property Owner

The most common type of shooting death case that we will accept is based on negligent security, which is a subset of premises liability.  That means that we sue the property owner, for failing to provide adequate security.  Usually these are most promising when they happen on commercial property (like a mall or other business), in a high crime area.

In these cases, the law requires that we show that there was a reason for the property owner to anticipate the shooting (which means there was history of similar crime in the immediate vicinity — meaning within a 1 mile radius), yet the property owner negligently failed to provide adequate security.  We have to carefully investigate these types of cases to be sure that there was sufficient crime, and insufficient security.

You can get a very general idea of the crime rate in the area surrounding your crime by entering the address here, and searching for similar crimes during the approximately three (3) month time-frame immediately before your loved one became a victim.  As an Orlando wrongful death lawyer, I do a quick / preliminary review of the crime rate in the area before I decide whether I can accept a case.  IF I believe there was enough crime to pursue a case, then we would hire a security expert to do a comprehensive analysis of the crime rate, in much more detail than you can find on any website.

If the shooting happened in a low crime area, then we may not be able to pursue a shooting death case.  However, if you lost a loved one due to a shooting, please let us decide whether we think we can prove the case.

If there was high crime, then we also have to prove that there was insufficient security.  The level of security that is required, again, we prove by hiring a security expert to evaluate the security measures in place on the property.

What Is The Value Of A Shooting Death Case?

The value of a shooting death case varies based primarily on these factors:

(1) The amount of insurance coverage of the business where the shooting took place. Very often, companies have 1 or 2 million dollar policies, but not always.  This amount is usually the maximum we can recover.

(2) The closeness of the relationship between the person who died, and the person who calls us.  Wrongful death damages are largely determined by the closeness of the relationship between the decedent (person who died) and survivor (person who called us).  That means, for example, if the relationship was very estranged, such as a child who hadn’t spoken to their parent in 25 years, the damages are usually lower.  However, we have recovered substantial sums for those who have lost a loved one, even when the relationship was estranged.  We can provide more information about this issue during a free consultation, if you give us a call.

(3) The degree of negligence of the security.  If a mall had a high level of security, and they were doing everything within their power to prevent crime, then the value of the case is somewhat lower.  However, we delve deeply into the evidence to evaluate all aspects of security, depose security guards and their employers, consider the frequency and location of security patrols, and consider the adequacy of all other security measures.  Very often, there are problems with even the most seemingly comprehensive security plans.  But, if security was spectacular, that would be a factor in what amount we would advise a client to accept when settling a case (because, if the case goes to trial, we have to prove to a jury that the security was inadequate, and the defense would present all evidence showing they did everything they could in terms of security).

(4)  The level of similar crime in the immediate area.  More crime generally means more security should have been provided.

Overall, if a shooting death happened in a high crime area, on commercial property, then there is a very good chance we could pursue a valuable case.  We can provide more information about the types of verdicts and settlements you might expect, depending on the particular facts of your case, if you give us a call.

If you have lost a loved one due to a shooting death, please call or text (407) 383-7290, 24 hours a day.  Someone will respond as soon as we receive your message (often immediately or within a very short time-frame).  Please explain that you need information about a possible shooting death case.  We can be most helpful if someone who is entitled to bring the lawsuit calls us.  You can read more about who can sue here.

 

 

 

 

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Probate Versus Wrongful Death Lawsuit: What Is The Difference? https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/probate-versus-wrongful-death/ https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/probate-versus-wrongful-death/#respond Tue, 21 Feb 2017 23:13:54 +0000 http://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/?p=407 Wrongful Death Versus Probate: Differences As an Orlando death attorney, one common question from my clients is whether they also need a probate attorney.  Many do not understand the difference between a wrongful death lawsuit, on the one hand, and a probate action, on the other. Let me briefly explain. What Is A Wrongful Death […]

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Wrongful Death Versus Probate: Differences

Wrongful Death Versus Probate

As an Orlando death attorney, one common question from my clients is whether they also need a probate attorney.  Many do not understand the difference between a wrongful death lawsuit, on the one hand, and a probate action, on the other.

Let me briefly explain.

What Is A Wrongful Death Case?

A wrongful death lawsuit is typically filed by survivors of the person who died.  These cases can be based on a number of negligent actions of others, such as a shooting death (which leads to a possible negligent security claim against the property owner where the shooting took place), auto accident death (obviously caused by negligent drivers, and typically limited to the amount of all available insurance policies), medical malpractice (when a medical provider’s negligence caused death), swimming pool drowning death (often a premises liability case), products liability cases (where a defective product caused death), and similar cases.  There are many different scenarios that might lead to a valid claim for survivors under Florida’s wrongful death statute.

If there are grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit, then, on behalf of survivors, a wrongful death lawyer would be pursuing a lawsuit to prove that someone else was negligent, and that caused the death of their loved one.

What Is A Probate Case?

In contrast, a probate lawyer only deals with Florida’s probate laws. Those are the laws that apply whenever anyone dies, and they determine how the person’s estate is distributed. For example, there are many laws governing the requirements for wills and trusts (such as the requirement that there be two witnesses to every will, for example).  There are also laws called “intestacy statutes,” which govern the distribution of an estate whenever there is no will, or trust.  The intestacy statutes determine which survivors get what portion of a decedent’s estate.

But, the important point to understand is that probate applies ANYTIME ANYONE dies, with or without a will.  Basically probate laws determine the distribution of an estate, even when death was caused naturally.  By contrast, a wrongful death lawyer is needed when someone’s negligence caused death, for example, if a negligent driver caused the death of another in an auto accident.

If Someone Dies, Do You Need A Wrongful Death Lawyer, Or A Probate Lawyer?

IF you believe that negligence might have caused the death of your loved one, then you need a wrongful death lawyer.  When negligence caused death, a wrongful death lawyer always needs a probate lawyer, and vice versa.  Anytime we accept a new wrongful death case, we hire a probate lawyer for our client (unless our client already has their own probate lawyer).  We then work hand-in-hand with the probate lawyer, to ensure that the probate part of the case is handled properly (which involves approval of any distributions by the probate judge).

But understand: the probate lawyer is not involved in pursuing the monetary damages available as a result of the negligence of a wrongdoer who caused death.  Wrongful death lawyers have that job.

Wrongful Death From Auto Accident: An Example

Let me give you a simple example.

One of my clients called me after tragically losing a loved one after an auto accident.  My job was to fully investigate the cause of the auto accident, prove that the defendant driver caused the accident, and recover any available insurance proceeds or defendant assets.  Once I fully recover the damages for the auto accident (which usually is capped at the amount of insurance proceeds), then I send the check to the probate lawyer, who distributes the proceeds to the estate, in accordance with Florida’s probate laws.

Should All Wrongful Death Survivors Have The Same Lawyer?

Incidentally, if there are multiple survivors, the best scenario includes all survivors having the same wrongful death lawyer (as long as they have no conflict, which usually means they can agree how to divide the recovery before hiring the wrongful death lawyer).  This is important because usually the probate lawyer will want to know how the parties want to divide the estate proceeds.  This is also important because, unless all survivors agree, there can be a long and expensive battle between the survivors regarding who deserves what amount of money.

Who Hires The Wrongful Death Lawyer?

Ideally, everyone who is a “survivor” under Florida’s wrongful death statute should hire the wrongful death lawyer.  For example, if a husband lost his wife, but she had children from a previous marriage, ideally the father, on behalf of the children, would hire the same lawyer, assuming there is no conflict of interest between the three people, which generally means assuming the three people can agree how to divide the proceeds of any lawsuit verdict or settlement.

If everyone cannot agree on the same wrongful death lawyer, the case can get messy to the point where no one gets good or any representation (that varies a LOT depending on the facts of the case, and the relationships involved).

Anyway, the person who actually files the lawsuit is the “personal representative” of the estate (usually the spouse, if there is one, or closest relative, or person appointed by will).  The personal representative can be appointed by will, or, if there is no will, a judge can appoint a personal representative.  That person actually pursues the wrongful death damages on behalf of ALL survivors.

In the example above, let’s say the former spouse becomes the personal representative.  He would pursue the lawsuit for ALL of the people entitled to recover, and the proceeds would be divided between all of the survivors, based on their agreement.  (If children are among the survivors, and the recovery exceeds a certain monetary threshold (currently greater than $15,000), then a guardian ad litem is appointed to review the fairness of the award to the child, and judges carefully review the guardian ad litem report.)

If YOU believe that you might have a wrongful death case, but aren’t sure whether you are the proper survivor to pursue the case, please give me a call.  I will ask you about the facts of your situation, and tell you who can pursue what damages.

Who Is A Survivor Under Florida’s Wrongful Death Statute?

This varies depending on the cause of death.

In general, medical malpractice cases have a very limited group of survivors; other types of death cases include slightly more relatives who are entitled to recover.  You can read more about which survivors can recover what damages here.  Generally, for medical malpractice, only spouses and children under 25 can recover (or, if a child died, parents can recover for children under 25).

There is a very narrow exception to this rule — specifically, if a blood relative was totally (100%) dependent on someone who died, then they might be able to pursue a case.  (This is further limited in medical malpractice cases — where only the parents can recover for the death of a child over 25, and, as a practical matter, medical malpractice lawyers will ONLY pursue these claims in the extremely limited situations where the parents were totally (100%) dependent on their child for financial support, and all life services (like 100% care-giving).  So this “support and services” exception only applies to an exceptionally small percentage of cases.

For most medical malpractice wrongful death lawyers, as a practical matter, this “total dependence” means total — as in the person was incapable of working and supporting themselves, like an elderly parent with downs syndrome.  (Note the wrongful death statute technically allows recovery when there is partial dependence, but other aspects of the medical malpractice cases make those cases cost-prohibitive to pursue.)

For wrongful death cases OTHER THAN medical malpractice (like auto accidents, or shooting death / negligent security cases), there is a broader class of survivors, but still limited.  In those situations, a parent can pursue recovery for the loss of a child, and vice versa.

Do All Survivors Need Probate Lawyers?

Again, if negligence was possibly a factor in the death, then all survivors need a wrongful death lawyer, who then hires the probate lawyer.  In most cases, the probate lawyer plays a very small role in the case.  While the wrongful death lawyer must pursue the lawsuit to prove the negligence (like prove the negligent security), the probate lawyer only has to have the division of the proceeds approved by the probate judge, in accordance with the will, or Florida’s intestacy statute. Those are very different jobs, but the probate and wrongful death lawyers do work hand-in-hand.

If you lost a loved one in a way that you feel was caused by the negligence of another person, please call me today for your free consultation.  There are never any costs or fees, until we recover money for you.

You can reach Orlando wrongful death lawyer Tina Willis, usually pretty quickly, by calling or texting (407) 383-7290.

 

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How Fatal Car Accident Cases Might Differ From Probate https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/fatal-car-accident-versus-probate/ https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/fatal-car-accident-versus-probate/#respond Tue, 29 Mar 2016 17:03:31 +0000 http://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/?p=387 Fatal Orlando Car Accident Cases Versus Probate: When I Can’t Help As an Orlando wrongful death attorney, I frequently receive calls from those who have just lost a loved one in a fatal auto accident.  These are obviously among the most tragic calls I receive. Call Or Text 24 Hour Orlando Wrongful Death Attorney Hotline […]

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Fatal Orlando Car Accident Cases Versus Probate: When I Can’t Help

As an Orlando wrongful death attorney, I frequently receive calls from those who have just lost a loved one in a fatal auto accident.  These are obviously among the most tragic calls I receive.

Call Or Text 24 Hour Orlando Wrongful Death Attorney Hotline – (407) 383-7290

Today I received a phone call that is pretty typical of my semi-regular calls. A woman called about her father, who had passed away in a fatal car accident. She wanted advice on when to file various documents, and the deadlines involved.

I had spoken with her a few weeks ago, and unfortunately realized that I was unable to accept her wrongful death case based on a fatal auto accident.  I really hate when that happens because very often unfair laws are the culprit, and a wrongful death loss is obviously the worst possible situation for the grieving family member.  In those cases, I spend as much time as needed to make sure there is nothing that I can do to help, which I did with this woman.  Sometimes that takes me 5 minutes, sometimes several days.  I spent a couple of hours evaluating her case, including asking lots of questions, and performing a good bit of legal research, before determining that unfortunately I could not help her.

Florida Wrongful Death & Fatal Car Accident Survivors Might Have A Probate Claim

fatal car accidents versus probate

Whenever I cannot accept a fatal car, truck or motorcycle accident case, there still might be a probate claim to pursue.  For example, the person might be entitled to recovery under a will.  If there is no will, then Florida has something called an intestacy statute, which outlines which survivors are entitled to receive money from the deceased person’s estate.  This estate may, or may not, include recovery from the estate’s wrongful death case.

To make matters even more confusing, sometimes only an estate has a wrongful death claim.  However, sometimes individual survivors, like a spouse, minor children, or parents, also have their own individual wrongful death claim.  So the estate and the individuals may have separate claims.  And even more confusing is the fact that only the personal representative of an estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit, which would represent the interests of both the estate, and the individual survivors.

In any event, with this particular woman, I referred her to an estate attorney. She called that lawyer, and he had been helping her.

So she called me back to ask about various deadlines related to that probate action.

Unfortunately, when I am unable to accept a wrongful death case, for liability and practical reasons, I am unable to give legal advice.

The Work Orlando Fatal Car Accident Lawyers Must Do To Give Advice

Lawyers must review all evidence, documents and often speak with witnesses and perform legal research to give accurate answers. Even when we have done all of those things, we often do not have a clear answer.

The law is filled with unclear issues. Just think about this — a jury consisting of unknown people hears the evidence in any case. That process might take several days, weeks, or even longer. They then make a decision based on unclear standards like “reasonable person” (in civil cases) or “beyond a reasonable doubt” (in criminal cases). Those are very basic examples.  Jury instructions and decisions can get much more complicated — yet the instructions are always similarly unclear.  Indeed, one of the things lawyers fight to make happen is to get the jury instructions that they want.

So we simply can’t give advice or answers in many cases. We can only give educated guidance.

As for deadlines, often those are more clear. But not always.  Which particular deadlines might apply varies, depending on the type of case, and issues involved. And knowing the type of cases, and issues involved, again requires detailed analysis of many factors.  I certainly cannot trust a non-lawyer who calls me thinking she needs to file one document or another, to know, for sure, that is the document she needs to file, and then tell her that deadline.

This woman, I think, wanted deadlines associated with a probate issue. I am not a probate lawyer.  But I couldn’t even know exactly what she needed, without learning all facts of her case.  That includes whether she really even needs to file whatever she wants to file.

Besides, when it comes to probate, I don’t even know many of the deadlines.  That’s why Orlando wrongful death lawyers always hire probate lawyers whenever we open any estate for a wrongful death action.  So really I could have just told her I had no idea.  But that’s not the point.

Orlando Wrongful Death & Fatal Car Accident Lawyers Know Very Little Until They Review All Evidence

I can’t know those things without reviewing all facts, and evidence, and then making a decision. If I am unable to accept the case, then I can’t perform the many hours of research and factual analysis to give an accurate answer. And I sure can’t give an “off-the-cuff” answer, for liability reasons.

I do wish that I could help more people by quickly answering their questions. When I can help easily, by suggesting another lawyer or obvious & quick solution, then I do. But wrongful death lawyers usually cannot give quick answers to just about any question.

If you are wondering whether you might have a valid claim to a fatal auto accident or wrongful death case, then please give me a call.  I will evaluate whether I can help you, or give you the name of a probate attorney to evaluate those issues, if I cannot.

Call Or Text 24 Hour Orlando Wrongful Death Attorney Hotline – (407) 383-7290

Related Posts

Who Can Sue For Fatal Auto Accidents?

What Happens During A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

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Must An Autopsy Be Performed To Maintain A Wrongful Death Lawsuit? https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/must-an-autopsy-be-performed-to-maintain-a-wrongful-death-lawsuit/ https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/must-an-autopsy-be-performed-to-maintain-a-wrongful-death-lawsuit/#respond Wed, 04 Sep 2013 15:05:23 +0000 http://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/?p=296 As a Florida fatal accident lawyer, I receive lots of questions about what should happen immediately after any fatal accident.  Many people who have recently suffered the death of a spouse or other family member wonder whether they must insist on having an autopsy performed to maintain an action for wrongful death.  The answer is […]

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As a Florida fatal accident lawyer, I receive lots of questions about what should happen immediately after any fatal accident.  Many people who have recently suffered the death of a spouse or other family member wonder whether they must insist on having an autopsy performed to maintain an action for wrongful death.  The answer is that most of the time an autopsy is absolutely critical to proving a wrongful death case, although not technically (legally) required.  In other words, Florida’s wrongful death statute does not require an autopsy, but proving the cause of death can be next to impossible without autopsy results.  (In some rare cases, the cause of death may be known and provable without an autopsy, such as when extensive tests (for example radiology or blood tests) or medical procedures (such as surgeries) were performed immediately before the person died.)

What Is An Autopsy?

An autopsy is a thorough medical examination by a physician (M.D.) called a forensic pathologist (physicians trained in the study of diseases and abnormalities).  They carefully examine the body, both internally and externally, in their attempt to determine the cause of death.  These examinations may include various forms of testing (not just visual examination) along with microscopic examination of certain tissues and organs.

Why Is An Autopsy Usually Necessary To Prove Wrongful Death In Court?

When an attorney evaluates a wrongful death claim, they must first determine the cause of death.  The person might have been under the care of a physician who performed numerous, obvious medical errors.  However, those violations of the standard of care would be totally irrelevant in a wrongful death lawsuit if they did not cause the person to die.  As an example, let’s say that a physician failed to detect an illness that would have been fatal if left untreated, but could have been treated if detected (like diagnosing treatable cancer too late or failing to detect toxic levels of some poisonous substance).  And let’s further say that we can prove those things (perhaps through medical test results performed when the person was alive).  But then let’s say the person died suddenly, earlier than expected based on the typical progression of a known illness, such as cancer.  How can we know that the person did not die from a sudden aneurism, and not whatever illness or other condition the physician failed to diagnose?  In other words, if the physician committed numerous deviations from the standard of care that did not cause death, then even known violations of the standard of care are totally meaningless.  (Please note that an autopsy is not always required to prove wrongful death, such as where a person is diagnosed with cancer too late, despite having presented with known symptoms at an earlier time (and having a cancer treatable in the early stages, like melanoma) and then has clear progression through the illness leading to death.)

How Can An Autopsy Help A Wrongful Death Case?

An autopsy provides almost certain evidence of the cause of death and the findings from an autopsy are much more definitive regarding the cause of death than a death certificate.  If you have ever read any death certificates, you might know that one of the most common causes of death written death certificates is “cardiopulmonary arrest.” In other words, the death certificate tells us that the person’s heart stopped beating, which, of course, we already know.  So death certificates are most often completely useless in determining the cause of death.

On the other hand, during an autopsy, a physician thoroughly examines every part of the body, including microscopic examination of areas of the body that give excellent clues regarding the cause of death, such as a blocked coronary artery, or an aneurism.  Once we know exactly what caused the death, by way of the pathology and/or toxicology reports produced after an autopsy, we can combine that information with the factual circumstances surrounding the death (such as the clinical history revealed in medical records) to very accurately determine the cause of death in the overwhelming majority of all cases.

What Is The Next Question After A Wrongful Death Attorney Learns The Cause Of Death?

After we know the cause of death, the next questions are: (1) whether the death was preventable (although most deaths are preventable in hindsight); and (2) critically, whether the negligence of another person or entity, or a deviation from the standard of care by any medical provider, caused the death.   These questions are impossible to answer in many cases unless we first know the cause of death.

If I Get An Autopsy, Can I File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Here’s some unfortunate news.  If you choose to have an autopsy performed on your loved one, you may ultimately learn that you do not have a case for wrongful death.  In other words, you may learn that your loved one died from natural causes.  But autopsy results may still give you much needed emotional closure when you strongly suspect that someone else caused the death of your loved one. You will either confirm your suspicions (in which case you can seek justice and potentially help prevent others from suffering the same fate) or you will gain the peace of knowing that no one hastened your loved one’s death.  In cases where the autopsy shows that someone died of natural causes, or any cause not related to the negligence of another person or entity, a wrongful death lawsuit cannot be sustained.

What If You Object To An Optional Autopsy On Religious, Emotional, Or Moral Grounds?

Having an autopsy performed may be an intensely emotional decision for many people.  Others may object on religious or moral grounds.  Of course, these objections are totally understandable.  To make matters worse, loved ones often must make this sometimes difficult decision very shortly after death (for example, if the decedent is going to be cremated), when they are going through the most intense phase of grieving, and typically in shock.  Unfortunately, if you suspect that the negligence of a medical provider (or other person or entity) caused the death of your loved one, very often wrongful death attorneys simply must have autopsy reports or they cannot even investigate much less accept your potential wrongful death case.  Additionally, a wrongful death can have serious financial repercussions for the entire family.  So, if at all possible, try to think about the long-term financial benefit that a successful wrongful death lawsuit might bring to your family.

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Orlando Wrongful Death Attorney On Admissibility Of Spousal Intent To Divorce, Remarriage, Or Intent To Remarry https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/orlando-wrongful-death-attorney-evidence-admissibility-divorce-remarriage/ https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/orlando-wrongful-death-attorney-evidence-admissibility-divorce-remarriage/#respond Wed, 03 Apr 2013 12:55:07 +0000 http://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/?p=284 If you are a surviving spouse and you could speak to an Orlando wrongful death attorney, and depending entirely on the circumstances in your former marriage, some of the questions that you might be asking relate to the state of your former marriage or your relationships after your deceased spouse passed away.  As an Orlando […]

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If you are a surviving spouse and you could speak to an Orlando wrongful death attorney, and depending entirely on the circumstances in your former marriage, some of the questions that you might be asking relate to the state of your former marriage or your relationships after your deceased spouse passed away.  As an Orlando wrongful death attorney, I wanted to try to answer some of those questions.  Because wrongful death damages calculations relate partly to the strength of the relationship that you had with your deceased spouse, certain evidence regarding your relationship may or may not be admissible (and there may or may not be ways of preventing it’s admissibility, depending on the unique facts of your case).  Please also know that, as I write this, I want to be as sensitive as possible to the horrific feelings being experienced by most surviving spouses after the death of their spouse.  You should know that my goal is only to communicate aspects of Florida wrongful death law that could apply to a surviving spouse, although much of the information below applies to very specific situations, so may have no applicability to your potential case.

Can The Defense Admit Evidence Of Your Deceased Spouse’s Intent To Remarry?

Maybe.  At least one Florida court has ruled that a witness could testify that the decedent (deceased spouse) told her, before he died, that he was planning to divorce his wife and marry her.  The reasoning was that this evidence related to the pain and suffering experienced by the survivor, the degree of loss of companionship and protection, and even economic losses.  You should also know that the defense is entitled to explore these issues in a process called “discovery,” which is a lengthy pre-trial phase when attorneys from both sides can ask questions, talk to witnesses, depose witnesses and parties, and request and review any relevant documents.  Since admitting evidence of marital problems could potentially be abused as a defense litigation tactic, your attorney can attempt to thwart impermissible discovery techniques, impeach (discredit) the testifying witness, or present rebuttal evidence regarding the strength of your marriage or otherwise discounting the witness’ testimony.  Your Orlando wrongful death attorney can also try to exclude the evidence by motion for various reasons, including potentially “unfair prejudice,” although this last option is not always an easy sell to a judge, who has virtually unfettered discretion regarding whether to admit or deny “unfairly prejudicial” evidence.  But you need someone who will uncover every stone in their attempt to prevent this type of potentially damaging evidence from harming your case as much as possible within the rules of law.  Creative arguments and strategies, along with hyper-careful preparation and planning, and close communication with YOU, are the best counter to any defense.  I employ all of those methods with passion and vigor in my case preparation.

Can The Defense Admit Evidence Of Remarriage?

Under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, evidence of a surviving spouse’s remarriage is admissible in a wrongful death action.  How the jury can use that evidence is less clear because the statutory provision is old and there is not a lot of interpretive law.  One case has held that this evidence, although admissible, is only relevant to the damages suffered by the estate, not damages suffered by the surviving spouse (learn the difference between the estate and surviving spouse here).  That being said, if you have remarried since your spouse passed away, then you definitely need someone who will carefully craft requested limiting jury instructions, which the judge may or may not grant.  But you still absolutely need to have a thorough and diligent advocate attempt, by way of written motion and oral argument, to get the judge to instruct the jury that this evidence is not relevant to the surviving spouse’s damages, and so they should not consider it for that purpose (juries are sometimes instructed to ignore evidence for certain purpose; we call these “limiting instructions.”)

Can The Defense Admit Evidence Of Intention To Remarry?

This is another maybe.  There are arguments going both ways regarding whether a judge should or should not admit evidence regarding a surviving spouse’s intention to remarry.  I believe the better view is that this evidence should not be admitted, partly because the statute says that evidence of remarriage is admissible, but mentions nothing about evidence of an intent to remarry.  That being said, again, judge’s have a lot of discretion and can also make bad decisions sometimes (that’s why we have appeals, and appeals of appeals, but even then sometimes the law is unpredictable).

What Should You Do?

The best approach if you are facing any of the above situations is to hire an Orlando wrongful death attorney who will make thorough and persuasive arguments to the judge about why this type of evidence should either be excluded or limited, and then make every effort to strongly counter this evidence during any jury presentation, or other strategic moves, assuming your case gets that far (many if not most cases settle before trial, but still pre-trial judicial decisions regarding whether this type of evidence will be admissible can impact settlement offers because defense attorneys may either feel better or worse about the case that they think they can present to a jury if they do not settle).

If You Would Like To Speak With Me Today At No Cost Or Obligation (And No Pressure) About Whether You Might Have A Viable Wrongful Death Claim, Please Give Me A Call.  I Can Often Return Calls The Same Day.  (407) 383-7290.

 

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Wrongful Death Lawsuit Rights Of Surviving Spouses https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/wrongful-death-lawsuit-rights-surviving-spouse/ https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/wrongful-death-lawsuit-rights-surviving-spouse/#respond Mon, 01 Apr 2013 11:30:38 +0000 http://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/?p=272 As I have discussed previously, Florida’s wrongful death statute has significant limits, exclusions and detailed exceptions regarding who can sue for wrongful death.  This blog post is focused specifically on the rights of surviving spouses to sue on behalf of their deceased spouse in a wrongful death lawsuit. General Rule Regarding The Rights Of Surviving […]

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As I have discussed previously, Florida’s wrongful death statute has significant limits, exclusions and detailed exceptions regarding who can sue for wrongful death.  This blog post is focused specifically on the rights of surviving spouses to sue on behalf of their deceased spouse in a wrongful death lawsuit.

General Rule Regarding The Rights Of Surviving Spouses In Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Whenever someone’s spouse is killed and the action otherwise meets the criteria for a wrongful death lawsuit, the surviving spouse is defined as a survivor under Florida’s wrongful death statute, which entitles them to enhanced damages over those recoverable by the decedent’s estate (that is, beneficiaries under a will or Florida’s intestacy statute, which applies when there is no will or the will is partially or wholly invalid for some reason).  For the surviving spouse to qualify as a “spouse” under the act, the marriage must be legally valid, and legal validity is determined by the law of the state where the parties were married.  However, importantly, the damages may be reduced if their were problems in the marriage, as indicated by admissible evidence.  A diligent Orlando wrongful death attorney may also take numerous measures to prevent certain prejudicial evidence from being admitted, although there are never any guarantees when a court is ruling on the admissibility of prejudicial evidence, because the court has a lot of discretion in that regard.  The client and attorney may also work together to uncover facts (other evidence) to rebut any prejudicial evidence, which is one of many similar reasons why having a close, highly personalized relationship with your wrongful death attorney is critically important.

What About Common Law Marriages?  Is There Any Such Thing?

Florida stopped recognizing common law marriages on January 1, 1968.  So common law marriages entered before that date are still recognized and would qualify the spouse as a survivor entitled to recovery under Florida’s wrongful death act.  But any marriages entered in Florida after that date would need to comply with Florida’s existing law regarding how marriages are entered.  Most of the time, for regular marriages, this is simply a non-issue (most spouses are spouses), other than those who wonder about potential common law marriages (which cannot have been created in Florida after January 1, 1968).  In terms of common law marriages entered in other states, their binding validity would depend on the law of that other state at the time that the marriage was entered.

Evidence of Divorce, Intention to Divorce, Remarriage, and Intention to Remarry All Either Admissible Or Potentially Admissible Evidence

I will save more extensive discussion for another blog post, but you should be aware generally that a dissolution of marriage (divorce) ends the rights of the surviving spouse to recover under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act.  To recover under the act, the surviving spouse must have been legally married to the deceased spouse at the time of his or her death.  Additionally, evidence of intention to obtain a divorce may be admissible.  Evidence of remarriage is admissible for certain purposes and evidence of intention to remarry may be admissible.  This type of evidence may be limited or excluded with proper motions in certain limited situations, and, if you potentially may be subject to these types of arguments by the defense, then you need an Orlando wrongful death attorney who will utilize every legal argument possible to minimize or limit the impact of this type of potentially damaging evidence (the rules on this and most issues are complex and could lead to any number of extensive and unique written and oral arguments presented to the court, depending on the facts).

If You Would Like To Speak With A Wrongful Death Attorney About Your Rights As A Surviving Spouse, Please Do Not Hesitate To Call Me Anytime At (407) 383-7290.  There is No Cost or Obligation For The Phone Call.  Also, You Never Pay Any Fees Unless And Until We Recover.

 

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Orlando Swimming Pool Accident Attorney https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/orlando-swimming-pool-accident-attorney/ https://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/orlando-swimming-pool-accident-attorney/#respond Sun, 31 Mar 2013 23:31:28 +0000 http://wrongfuldeathattorneyorlando.com/?p=261 Orlando Swimming Pool Accident Attorney Today I read the terrible news that a 4 year old child playing in a pool on a Disney fantasy cruise ship was removed from the water, near drowning and airlifted to the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children this past Saturday.  The family had just boarded for a 7 day […]

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Orlando Swimming Pool Accident Attorney

Today I read the terrible news that a 4 year old child playing in a pool on a Disney fantasy cruise ship was removed from the water, near drowning and airlifted to the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children this past Saturday.  The family had just boarded for a 7 day cruise to the Western Caribbean.  He was transported by ambulance to the Cape Canaveral Hospital then later transported by ambulance to Orlando.  Of course, both parents nearly collapsed when they discovered him.  News reports say that Disney did not have a lifeguard on duty and had other drowning accidents in the recent past.

Unfortunately, drowning and swimming pool accidents are too common in Florida.  We have hot weather and inviting pools, which draw children into what is supposed to be fun play in the water.  But tragedies like this one can result if proper supervision and pool construction are not provided.

Available To Provide Strong Advocacy To The Families Of Drowning Victims in Orlando and Throughout Florida

There are few more deadly, terrible and traumatic accidents than those that involve swimming pools and water.  Unfortunately, swimming pool and water accidents are far more common in Florida than just about anywhere else in the nation.  Drowning accidents come about in private pools, hotels, motels, cruise ships, theme parks, parks, water parks, and other locations when adequate supervision is not provided, or when poorly constructed drains, gates, or other negligently constructed hazards put a swimmer or child at serious risk when they enter an area that should have been restricted or better guarded.  Even when the drowning victim survives, very often their lives are never the same, because underwater accidents many times cause brain damage or traumatic brain injuries because of the lack of oxygen that the victim experienced during the accident.  Very often these swimming pool accidents are the result of some other party’s negligence.  In those situations, you may want to consult with an Orlando swimming pool accident attorney address the legal matters of the claim or lawsuit.

Orlando Swimming Pool Accident Attorney Who Will Help Drowning Victims Take Legal Action

If you want needed compensation after a tragic drowning accident, we can provide highly personalized, rigorous and careful advocacy against the individual or entity that failed in their duty to maintain, supervise or construct the swimming area.  Sadly, many of these heartbreaking cases involve young children, since they are often just learning to swim, and parents and families suffer unthinkable grief and anger when they have lost their child or had their child suffer permanent, devastating injuries.  Although nothing can ever erase the devastating impact of what has happened, an Orlando swimming pool accident attorney can help you receive compensation, which may help with needed lifelong care, or at least help you eventually move forward with the financial aspects of your life in spite of paralyzing grief.

We can assist the families or the injured individual in the legal process in all types of drowning cases, including near pool accidents, drowning, beach accidents, near drowning, cruise ship accidents, child drowning accidents, water park or hotel drowning, theme park drowning, apartment pool drowning.  We can also assist with any cases involving broken or defective pool gates, improper drain guards, pool operator negligence, swimming pool drain accidents, pool operator negligence, negligent life guards, boating accidents, summer camps drowning, entrapment (in drains), and hot tub or spa cases.  You will need an Orlando swimming pool accident attorney who will fight sometimes large corporations with the utmost determination and “never give up” attitude.  We can also help you assess whether you are entitled to sue for wrongful death and help you understand the potential damages, and assess how much your case might be worth.

Personal Injury Cases in Florida: Personalized And Determined Representation

Tina prepares each case very carefully and is fully committed to seeking the highest financial recovery for her clients.  Tragic accidents caused by someone else demand justice.  We help families seek justice by filing civil actions and then prosecuting them with relentless determination and highly personal interactions with you–attorneys and clients must work closely together as a team and we fulfill that goal.

Consult with an Orlando Swimming Pool Accident Attorney

When the summer begins and the sun gets hotter, so do many children and families, which leads them to what is supposed to be a fun Orlando experience: swimming in our pools, lakes, and oceans.  However, given the dangers of swimming pools, particularly for young children, your neighbor’s backyard might actually be a dangerous area.  During the long and hot summer days, many of us enjoy private and public swimming pools without thinking much about the real and obvious dangers in swimming areas.  We can help you recover compensation after a swimming pool accident on someone else’s property, such as a public or neighbor’s pool, where a negligent act or breach of duty may have happened.  If your child was injured on another person’s property, you might be able to prove that the other party was negligent and receive compensation with the help of an Orlando swimming pool accident attorney.

If you have lost a child due to a swimming pool accident, please call our offices today. We can help families just like yours get back on track after a terrible accident has tragically altered their life.  We deeply regret and understand that no amount of compensation will ever make any of this right, but we strive to ensure that you receive justice and the negligent party is held responsible.  To learn more about how we handle cases (and all firms are different in this regard), please call an Orlando swimming pool accident attorney at our office today.

We are available to represent serious injury and wrongful death victims throughout Orlando and the rest of Florida and Georgia.

You Can Speak With An Orlando Swimming Pool Accident Attorney About Whether Your Case Might Have Merit At No Charge And No Obligations By Calling (407) 383-7290 Anytime

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