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Obtained Over $1 Billion in Settlements & Trial Verdicts
Representing the Families of Wrongful Death Victims in South Florida
While death is a normal part of life, it should not be the result of human negligence. When death occurs because of the fault, error, or the intentional act of another party, the event is tragic, and survivors of the deceased deserve to be compensated for the unexpected and preventable loss of life.
At the law offices of Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP, our Miami wrongful death attorneys have helped the surviving family members of those who have died because of the wrongful or neglectful acts of another seek compensation for losses. We know that you have questions about what to do and how to move forward after your loved one dies – let us help you seek answers.
Why Choose Us
Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP is a full service law firm with a clear philosophy: Victims and families deserve the highest quality of legal representation. We are on the side of the people who need legal help the most—not large corporations or big insurance companies. Here are four reasons why grieving families rely on our Miami wrongful death attorneys:
- Highly Qualified and Experienced: Our Miami, FL wrongful death lawyers are highly qualified and have extensive experience handling a wide range of wrongful death claims, including motor vehicle collisions, medical malpractice claims, and defective product cases. Every partner at our law firm has been elected to key leadership positions within the legal community. We have consistently been recognized by our peers as top attorneys.
- Proactive and Aggressive Legal Advocacy: We take a proactive, detailed-focused approach to every wrongful death case. Our attorneys are always ready to hit the ground running in every case that we take on—thoroughly investigating the accident, securing important evidence, and developing a comprehensive strategy to hold the at-fault party and insurance companies liable.
- Caring, Compassionate, and Attentive: We truly care about our clients. There is nothing more heartbreaking or emotionally devastating than dealing with the aftermath of a fatal accident. You need to be able to focus on doing what is right for yourself and your family. Our compassionate, attentive wrongful death lawyers are here to handle your legal needs.
- A History of Results: Our law firm has a proven record of successful results in catastrophic injury claims and wrongful death cases. Across all of our practice areas, we have secured more than $1 billion in settlements and trial verdicts for our clients. Our Miami wrongful death lawyers know that you and your family need justice, accountability, closure, and the maximum available financial compensation.
How We Will Help You
For grieving families, there is nothing more challenging than losing a loved one in an accident that could and should have been prevented with the proper safety precautions. At Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP, we are focused on helping clients navigate every aspect of the legal process. When you reach out to our Miami law office, you will have an opportunity to consult with a Florida wrongful death attorney who can:
- Hear your story, answer questions, and explain your options during a free consultation;
- Investigate the accident—carefully assembling the evidence needed to prove liability;
- Handle all of the claims paperwork;
- Represent your in any settlement negotiations with defendant or insurance companies; and
- If necessary, take the claim to court to get justice and full compensation.
Wrongful death claims are complicated. With so much at stake, you and your family deserve personalized legal representation from a Miami wrongful death lawyer who will put time and resources into the case. Not only are our South Florida wrongful death attorneys prepared to review your claim in a free, confidential initial consultation, we handle these cases on contingency. There are never any upfront costs or out-of-pocket fees for you or your family.
What is Wrongful Death?
If you have a loved one who was recently involved in a situation that resulted in them dying in Florida, you may be wondering if their death was a wrongful one. If their death was one that could have been prevented, you will need to “file an estate claim in probate court so you can sue on their behalf,” states The Balance. The law limits the amount of time you have to file a this type of claim, so you should examine your situation carefully and proceed in a timely manner. But because of Florida’s wrongful death act, you are able to file a claim and hopefully receive a fair settlement.
Only certain family members are allowed to file a wrongful death estate claim. Some states have laws that allow siblings, extended family and grandparents to do so. However, many states do not, making children and surviving spouses the only parties who are eligible to exercise this right.
Deaths that are unintentional or that are caused by negligence can occur in many ways. For example, your loved one could have been the victim of a medical malpractice where a medical error occurred or they could have been involved in a fatal car accident during a police chase. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your relative’s demise, your claim must meet certain criteria.
That criteria includes your family member’s death must have caused some type of loss or damage to the remaining family members. Damages can include pain and suffering, your loved one’s lost wages, burial expenses and medical bills. You must also be able to show proof that your loved relative’s death was not a consequence of their own making. In other words, their actions or lack of action must not have been a contributing factor to their death. Their death must also be the result of someone else’s negligence.
Wrongful death suits are considered civil lawsuits that must be substantiated with proof which makes them quite challenging to prove. However, the right guidance can improve your chances of success and help your family with their financial burden.
Types of Wrongful Death Cases Our Law Firm Handles
A death is “wrongful” when it occurs as the result of the negligence – defined as the failure to act with a reasonable degree of care – or the wrongful act of another party. There are many causes of wrongful death reported in Miami and throughout South Florida every year, including, but not limited to:
- Car accidents;
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Bicycle accidents;
- Pedestrian crashes;
- Medical malpractice;
- Injuries from defective products;
- Slip and fall accidents;
- Premises liability accidents; and
- Large truck and commercial vehicle crashes.
Proving Liability for a Miami Wrongful Death Case
If you believe that your family member would not have died but for the wrongful act of another party, you must prove negligence to hold the party liable and recover compensation for losses. You must prove the following:
1. The Defendant Owed the Victim a Duty of Care
The first thing that you must prove is that the defendant (the person you are filing a lawsuit against) owed the deceased a duty of care. A duty of care is almost always implied, such as in the case of a car accident resulting in death; all drivers have a duty of care to others on the road to operate their vehicles in a safe and reasonable manner. Duty of care can be more difficult to determine in cases of premises liability, specifically those involving trespassers.
2. The Duty of Care Was Breached
The second thing that you must prove is that the defendant breached the duty of care owed to your loved one. This is known as acting negligently. For example, speeding is an act of negligence, because it is unreasonable and puts others in danger, and because it is illegal. Failing to adhere to the medical standard of care by prescribing a patient a dangerous medication is also negligent. Another example of negligence is manufacturing a product that is hazardous for consumer use.
3. The Breach was the Cause of Death
Another important element of a wrongful death suit is proving that the breach of the duty of care was the cause of death of your loved one. If you cannot prove causation, you will not have a case.
4. Damages Have Been Suffered
Finally, you must prove that the accident resulted in damages. While death is an obvious loss, other damages that family members may suffer include funeral and burial expenses, lost wages and earnings, loss of guidance and companionship, medical expenses prior to death, and more. Damages are often both instantaneous and felt long-term.
5. How Much is a Wrongful Death Claim Worth in Miami?
The damages awarded in wrongful death cases vary greatly, as many factors determine the full amount of damages available in any specific case. However, the average amount of damages in wrongful death lawsuits in Florida is between $500,000 and $1 million. Of course, damage amounts can be higher or lower than this, and will largely depend on the limits of any insurance policy involved, and the financial worth of the deceased.
6. Damages Available in Wrongful Death Claims
Any wrongful death damages awarded in a case are meant to compensate surviving loved ones for their losses. Under Florida law, individuals have a right to pursue the following damages:
- Medical expenses
- Mental pain and suffering
- Loss of services and support
- Funeral expenses
- Losses incurred by the estate
In some cases, loved ones may be able to collect all of the above types of damages while in others, only one or two may be available.
Different Ways to Prove a Death Was Wrongful
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.
Surviving Family Members Deserve Full Compensation for Their Losses
A wrongful death in Florida must be brought forth by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. However, all potential beneficiaries – which refers to those who are blood relatives who are partially or wholly dependent on the deceased – can be named in the wrongful death claim, and may seek damages. There is nothing that can fully compensate you when you suffer the death of a loved one; wrongful death is a catastrophic occurrence that will change your life. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party, however, can help you to recover compensation for some of the losses you have suffered.
Who may file a wrongful death case in Florida?
Florida law allows two types of claimants to sue for wrongful death.
- The first type includes the decedent’s spouse, children, parents and dependent blood or adoptive relatives. They are collectively referred to as “survivors.”
- The second category is the “estate,” which is the legal collective designation for the decedent’s property that is left behind.
The estate’s beneficiaries include those who get a portion of the estate under the terms of a will or of Florida’s intestacy statutes, in the absence of a will. The estate can sue through a personal representative, who files a claim on behalf of the beneficiaries.
When Can A Family Member File A Wrongful Death Claim?
You can file a wrongful death claim if your family member’s death was caused by another person either deliberately or as a result of negligence.
- A motor vehicle accident that was caused in whole or in part by another person;
- A death in a hospital or nursing home that was caused by malpractice, a prescription drug error or fall;
- A death that occurred on someone else’s property due to an unsafe property condition; and
- Death from an assault at a hotel or resort that was caused by negligent security.
What Damages Can Family Members Recover For Wrongful Death?
The death of a family member is devastating both emotionally and financially. If the death was caused by the negligence of another party, Florida law allows family members to seek compensation for the losses they have experienced. In Florida, spouses, minor children, parents and other family members may seek compensation for loss of services and support, loss of companionship and other damages resulting from the death. The deceased person’s estate can also recover compensation for financial losses.
The following summarizes damages family members can seek for wrongful death in Florida:
- All family members can recover compensation for lost support and services from the date of the death and in the future.
- Spouses can also recover for loss of companionship and protection, and for emotional pain and suffering.
- Minor children can also recover compensation for loss of companionship, instruction and guidance, and for emotional pain and suffering.
- Parents of a deceased minor can also recover compensation for emotional pain and suffering.
- The survivor who paid for medical and funeral expenses can recover compensation for those expenses.
- The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can recover compensation for loss of future earnings, less amounts paid to survivors for loss of support.
Damages available to the estate
The estate may recover damages for medical and funeral expenses due to the injury, lost earnings and net accumulations. Recovery for lost earnings may be available in a case where the decedent did not die immediately after the accident but did lose earnings due to injuries. Net accumulations refer to the sum of what the decedent would have left behind had he or she lived out a natural lifespan. Projecting net accumulations can involve complex calculations and projections based on the decedent’s earning potential, investments, prior earnings, expenses, financial habits and many other factors.
Additional damages available to survivors
Survivors may recover additional forms of damage for mental pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of guidance (if a parent died), loss of support and services. Support and services generally consist of practical tasks the decedent used to perform, which the survivors will now have to pay someone to do. On the other hand, loss of companionship may be difficult to quantify and will often depend on individual circumstances, such as the specific relationship between the decedent and the survivors.
In some cases, damages may be unavailable or limited. For example, Florida places a cap on non-economic damages in wrongful death cases of medical malpractice, although courts have carved out exceptions under specific circumstances. Evaluating damages in a Florida wrongful death case can offer complex challenges. An experienced attorney can assess your case and provide the information and support you need to proceed.
For specific information, seek prompt assistance from a Florida lawyer who focuses on wrongful death law. Family members have a limited time to file their claim. Our experienced wrongful death attorney can help you.
How Are Damages Determined in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The loss of a loved one is a traumatic event. Family members congregate to remember and grieve the dead, and it sometimes feels impossible to carry on. However, if your loved one died because of someone else’s carelessness or wrongful act, you might be able to receive compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Florida’s wrongful death law allows certain family members to receive “damages,” which are a sum of money for certain economic and non-economic losses you have suffered. Though this money can never replace a loved one, it can provide peace of mind and some measure of financial security.
You Can Receive Compensation for Economic Losses
A loved one might have provided an economic benefit that is now gone since he or she died. Generally, you can receive compensation for these economic losses. Florida’s wrongful death law allows survivors to receive damages for income the deceased would have earned had he or she lived.
Calculating this amount can be tricky. However, a jury will look at many factors, such as the age, skill, and education your loved one had at the time of death. A deceased who was college educated and making $80,000 a year at age 35 would have earned more over a lifetime than someone who had a high school diploma and was making $30,000 at age 55.
Other economic losses include lost benefits, like health insurance or pension or retirement benefits that were lost when the deceased died. Survivors can also recover money for lost services. For example, the deceased might have cooked, cleaned, and done laundry, and you can receive damages to hire someone else to do this now.
You Might Receive Money for Non-Economic Losses
A loved one’s death does more than negatively affect your wallet. You probably also have suffered losses that are harder to measure in monetary terms. Nevertheless, these emotional and intangible losses are very real. Many of our clients have received damages for the following:
- Loss of guidance, protection, and companionship; and
- Pain and suffering.
Not all survivors qualify for these types of damages, so you need to closely analyze your individual circumstances. An experienced attorney can also estimate how much you could possibly receive.
Wrongful Death Cases Are Challenging
Florida’s wrongful death statute has allowed grieving family members to get compensation when their loved ones have died due to someone else’s wrongful acts. Without this statute, many family members would be unable to support themselves financially. They also would be denied a measure of justice of seeing the person responsible be held liable in court.
Wrongful death lawsuits are civil cases, like car accidents and dog bite claims. However, they are quite challenging compared to other personal injury cases. You will want an attorney in your corner who has deep experience in this area of law so that you can bring a successful claim.
Finding Evidence of Wrongful Death is Difficult
If you were injured in an accident but lived, then you could tell an attorney what happened and testify in a lawsuit against the person who hurt you. With wrongful death cases, the victim unfortunately is no longer with us. That doesn’t mean it is impossible to prevail in a wrongful death suit. However, it does mean that it is more challenging to find evidence.
At our firm, we can interview anyone who might have witnessed the incident that claimed your loved one’s death. We can also use medical records as evidence to help establish how the accident unfolded.
Other helpful evidence might include physical evidence, surveillance video, and the testimony of the defendant. It takes time and legal knowledge to find this evidence, which is why hiring an experienced attorney is essential.
Timing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit is Complicated
Some wrongful death cases are also criminal cases. It is often helpful to wait until the criminal case has concluded before bringing your civil case, since you might be able to force the defendant to testify. Understanding how a wrongful death cases interacts with a possible criminal case is necessary for gaining an advantage.
Valuing a Loved One’s Death Requires Experience
In a wrongful death claim, family members can receive compensation for things like the loss of services or support you received, along with the loss of companionship and guidance. These losses are very hard for a lay person to assign a dollar value to, but an experienced Miami wrongful death attorney will be able to decide how much compensation to seek.
Resources for Grieving Victims
If you have recently lost a loved one, taking legal action may be the last thing on your mind right now. You are likely more concerned with adjusting to the toll the loss is taking on you and your family and trying to cope with your grief.
However, at a certain point, exploring your legal options can prove to be more helpful than you may realize. If you are struggling with the loss of a loved one, there are a few reasons why you may want to consider taking legal action even though it may seem overwhelming at first.
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit in the wake of a fatal accident can help people get the answers that often go unanswered in the absence of legal action. For instance, negligent parties may ignore requests for details or provide some type of blanket-statement in an effort to put the issue to rest as quickly as possible. A legal claim can prompt parties to disclose previously unknown or concealed information.
Additionally, while money cannot repair the devastation of a loss or undo a fatal accident, it can compensate survivors for damages, both economic and non-economic. People can be awarded money to cover relevant expenses and to acknowledge the many ways their lives have been affected by a loss which can provide some much-needed financial relief.
A wrongful death claim can also send a powerful message that negligent or reckless parties will be held accountable for their actions or inaction. This can instill a sense of justice and relief that the tragic incident is not ignored.
We understand that assessing your legal options and pursuing compensation may not be priorities for you in the wake of a devastating loss. However, we can help you explore your options for a resolution when the time comes. Here are some resources you may be interested in.
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– Allan P.
Have had and currently have many cases shared with this firm as a plaintiffs’ attorney and find them to have the highest legal and ethical competence in their field of practice.