Losing a loved one is a shocking event. There are so many questions that people might have, including whether the death could have been prevented. Other questions revolve around whether the defendant can be held accountable in civil court.
Each wrongful death case is different, and there is no one “typical” case. Florida Statute § 768.19 requires that we show a death stemmed from negligence, wrongful act, default, or breach of contract or warranty in order to maintain a civil suit. Below, we highlight some of the ways that we can show a death was wrongful.
The Defendant Was Negligent
Many wrongful death cases stem from negligence. Put simply, a defendant was negligent when he owed your loved one a duty of care but failed to act carefully. Consequently, your loved one died because of the defendant’s carelessness.
Negligence actions turn on what a hypothetical “reasonable person” would act. For example, a reasonable person would not drive distracted or while intoxicated. In this way, “reasonable” is not typical or average. After all, the average driver might send text messages while driving!
Another key question with negligence is whether the defendant owed your loved one a duty of care. Often, physical proximity imparts a duty, such as on the road, where motorists must drive carefully so as not to injure those around them.
A Product Was Defective
Some clients die because a dangerous product fails to work as expected. For example, a kitchen appliance could catch on fire or explode. Furniture could collapse due to inadequate design or manufacture, injuring people.
There are several ways to prove a product was defective. For one, it might fail to work as consumers expect. A baby’s highchair should not tip over, and clothes or bedding should not catch on fire. In other cases, the product is defective because it failed to conform to certain government regulations.
The Defendant Failed to Follow the Prevailing Standard of Care
In the medical malpractice context, we will need to show that a medical professional failed to use the level of skill, care, and treatment which a reasonably prudent health professional would have provided in similar circumstances. This is very context-specific. We also need expert medical testimony, since jurors would not know what a prudent health care provider would act.
The Defendant Committed a Crime
In many cases, the defendant’s conduct is wrongful if he or she broke the law. This is true in a wrongful death case based on a violent attack, such as assault, aggravated assault, manslaughter, or homicide.