Many wrongful death cases involve accidents in which a person’s negligence leads directly to the death of the victim. Think of a motorist who doesn’t look in his mirrors when changing lanes and strikes a motorcyclist. The motorist did not purposely strike the victim, but their carelessness caused the death, nonetheless.
However, some deaths are intentional. Can your family bring a lawsuit for compensation if a loved one was murdered? The answer is “yes,” but there can be complicating factors.
Our state’s wrongful death law can be found at Fla. Stat. §768.19. It states that a wrongful death can be maintained when a person dies due to another person’s default, negligence, or otherwise “wrongful conduct.”
Homicide involves the unlawful killing of another person, and it definitely qualifies as a “wrongful” act. This means that if your loved one was killed in cold blood, you can sue the person who did it. You can also sue if the defendant committed a lesser offense, such as manslaughter.
Criminal Prosecutions & Wrongful Death
The state has responsibility for enforcing the criminal laws. If the prosecutor decides to charge your loved one’s killer with a crime, they will bring an indictment. A defendant can be sentenced to jail or probation if convicted.
Wrongful death cases are civil, not criminal, and the estate’s personal representative has the responsibility for filing them. Even if the defendant’s actions are criminal, the civil action can continue at the same time. Nevertheless, there might be strategic reasons to wait for the criminal case to play out before going forward with the civil case. Talk to an attorney to better understand your options.
Although a criminal defendant can be sued, there are certain problems that arise. For one, the defendant might not have any resources. In a civil suit, the plaintiffs who prevail can only receive money damages in compensation. And, unfortunately, many criminal defendants have few resources. This makes receiving compensation difficult.
However, there might be other parties to blame. For example, your loved one could have been killed in a hotel or parking that lacked adequate security. If so, the business could be partially to blame and might need to pay compensation.
In your grief, it is difficult to analyze legal fault, so meet with a Miami wrongful death attorney at Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein today. We can determine what people or entities share fault for the death and seek an appropriate legal remedy. Call us, 305-371-2692, to find out more.