Sarasota Wrongful Death Lawyers

When a family learns that a cherished loved one or relative has been killed due to another party’s wrongfulness or negligence, they may be devastated. It is not uncommon for surviving family members to deal with not only the emotional trauma of their loss but also the considerable financial losses that followed. Fortunately, they may be able to take legal action against those responsible and demand that the liable party be brought to justice with help from our highly skilled Sarasota wrongful death lawyers at Luhrsen Goldberg. 

Our Sarasota personal injury attorneys work tirelessly to help surviving family members recover the compensation they are entitled to. While money will not bring back the surviving family member’s loved one, it is one of the best opportunities for families to take action and do everything possible to ensure those responsible are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Call our office to request a free consultation today and discuss the way wrongful death cases unfold, who could be sued for damages, and the intricacies of wrongful death claims.

What is a Wrongful Death Case?

Any time one party is responsible for causing the death of another, one of the ways liable parties can be held accountable is by having a wrongful death action brought against them. Wrongful death claims are similar to personal injury lawsuits. They are civil claims brought forward seeking damages from an individual or entity found liable for causing the decedent’s death.

Our wrongful death attorneys at Luhrsen Goldberg have spent decades advocating for the rights of surviving family members across Sarasota and surrounding communities. When families want to fight for justice but criminal charges are pending or do not apply, wrongful death actions are an opportunity for them to take charge of their situations. Holding the liable party accountable is crucial to not only recovering compensation for the decedent’s and surviving family member’s damages but also to potentially prevent similar wrongful deaths from occurring in the future.

Wrongful Death Actions Differ From Criminal Charges

Many individuals accused of liability in a wrongful death claim will also face criminal charges. The decedent’s surviving family members are often surprised to learn that they can get justice for their loved one in multiple ways and that the case against the accused was strong enough to warrant both criminal and civil action. However, it is important to note the distinct differences between wrongful death and criminal cases, including:

  • The burden of proof - In criminal court, the burden of proof must be met beyond a reasonable doubt. The state’s prosecutor must meet this burden of proof for the jury to return a guilty verdict. However, the same is not true in civil court. Here, the wrongful death lawyer merely needs to show that the defendant is most likely responsible for the victim’s death based on the evidence obtained.
  • Who files the claim or charges - When criminal charges are filed, they are done so by the state’s prosecuting attorney. In a wrongful death claim, a dedicated personal injury and wrongful death attorney does so on behalf of the surviving family or those with the authority to file the wrongful death claim.
  • The consequences of a verdict in favor of the state or plaintiff - If a defendant is convicted of a criminal offense at trial, they will face criminal penalties based on state sentencing guidelines and, in some cases, the judge’s discretion. However, in civil court, when a family files a wrongful death claim, if the defendant is found liable, they can be ordered to compensate the decedent’s surviving family members and heirs based on compensatory damages.

Criminal charges and wrongful death actions can run concurrently. However, accessing certain types of evidence may prove challenging if they are currently in use by the state’s prosecutor’s office. Our injury attorneys are prepared to conduct an extensive investigation and build the strongest case possible, no matter what the circumstances of your case are. With Luhrsen Goldberg, surviving families have a chance to grieve and mourn their loss while a powerful team of legal advocates fights for their rights and justice for their loved ones.

Wrongful Death Claims Take Many Forms

Wrongful death cases are some of the most difficult types of personal injury claims to handle. Surviving family members are devastated, confused, and wondering how they are going to live their lives without the deceased. It is our goal to help them get through these emotionally taxing times. Our clients have lost loved ones in a number of different types of cases.

The type of accident or incident that caused the decedent’s death is crucial, as it will help us to identify the liable party and ensure that anyone who shares blame for the decedent’s passing is held to account. These are some of the most common causes of fatal injuries, and the parties often sued for damages via wrongful death claims.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents can include nearly any type of collision involving pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and other vehicles on the roadways. This includes commercial trucks, SUVs, sedans, tractor-trailers, and even electric scooters and rideshares. Unfortunately, Sarasota sees its fair share of car accidents and fatalities.

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2022, there were more than 3,550 fatal car accidents across the state. In the vast majority of these collisions, dangerous and negligent driving practices, such as drunk driving, distracted driving, and speeding, caused these deaths. However, it is not only negligent drivers who cause fatal car accidents.

Defective motor vehicle parts that malfunction often result in fatalities, leading to vehicle recalls. When the Florida Department of Transportation or the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles fails to make necessary safety repairs to the roads, install crosswalks, bicycle lanes, traffic lights, or street lamps, they may create inherently dangerous road conditions, often leading to catastrophic injury or wrongful death. Our team conducts extensive investigations into our client’s fatal car accident claims to ensure we have accurately identified the liable party and access the evidence we need to prove their liability based on a preponderance of the evidence.

Premises Liabilities

Premises liability incidents can occur anywhere. They include any type of accident that occurs on public or private property. Property owners are almost always found to share liability for victim’s injuries and wrongful death when they fail to ensure the premises are safe for invited guests and patrons. The property owner’s duty of care under Florida law does not apply to those who may be trespassing or committing a criminal offense. Some of the most common types of premises liability wrongful death cases our clients have reported include:

  • Dog bites and animal attacks
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Pool drownings
  • Trampoline accidents
  • Negligent security
  • Failure to ensure proper maintenance
  • Ladder and stair accidents

Defective Products

In any type of accident where a product purchased by a consumer is defective or malfunctioning, ultimately resulting in fatal injuries, the decedent’s surviving family members may have the right to move forward with a wrongful death claim. There are three primary types of defective product cases:

  • Failure to warn - The product that caused the decedent’s death lacked sufficient warnings of the risks associated with the product when used as intended.
  • Design defects - There is a design flaw in the product that makes it inherently dangerous.
  • Manufacturing defects - One specific product has malfunctioned or was defective, but this defect does not affect the entire line of the specific product in question.

Some of the most common types of products known for causing fatal injuries include:

  • Firearms
  • Children’s toys and baby equipment
  • Lawnmowers and other heavy machinery
  • Medical devices and pharmaceuticals
  • Power tools
  • Automobiles
  • Toxic chemicals and substances at work

Medical Malpractice and Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Patients should be able to trust in their healthcare providers. Unfortunately, even medical professionals make mistakes not only in practice but in judgment. When a healthcare provider makes a fatal mistake or error that causes their patient’s death, they may be sued for medical malpractice. Wrongful death is one of the most common types of medical malpractice cases our clients have been involved in. In fact, according to John T. James, Ph.D., across the U.S., medical malpractice is responsible for as many as 400,000 deaths each year. Examples of medical malpractice could include:

  • Birth injuries
  • Anesthesia mistakes
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Surgical errors
  • Maternal birth injuries
  • Failure to treat or provide follow-up care

Nursing home neglect and abuse are also considered medical malpractice in some cases, as these healthcare providers have failed to uphold their duty of care, which ultimately can lead to patient deaths. This is true whether the patient is a victim of physical, emotional, financial, psychological, or sexual abuse. Many healthcare providers have medical malpractice insurance coverage designed to protect them in the event of a medical mistake. However, we frequently find that insurance companies are unwilling to compensate surviving family members fairly. This often requires our wrongful death attorneys to take further legal action by filing a medical malpractice-based wrongful death lawsuit.

Intentional Harm or Malice

It may also be appropriate to pursue a wrongful death claim in instances of intentional harm or malice. For example, suppose a loved one was in a domestic violence relationship, attempted to leave, and their partner killed them. In that case, the surviving family may have grounds for a wrongful death claim against them. It does not matter whether the liable party intended to cause death or did so accidentally. If their negligence or wrongful actions directly or indirectly caused the decedent’s death, they could be held accountable through a wrongful death action.

Florida Has Comprehensive Wrongful Death Laws

Florida has thorough wrongful death laws in place designed to ensure at-fault parties need to answer for their negligent actions or misconduct. Some of the most notable laws to take note of include the following:

Only Specific Parties Have the Authority to File a Wrongful Death Action

According to Fla. Stat. § 768.20, only the decedent’s personal representative has the right to file a wrongful death claim. This could be anyone the decedent named to act in their interests if they became incapacitated or passed away. Often, this is the decedent’s surviving children or spouse, though it could be a friend, sibling, cousin, or other third party.

Time is Limited to Pursue a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The decedent’s personal representative will need to take action on the wrongful death claim quickly if it is going to be successful. The Florida wrongful death statute, under Fla. Stat. § 95.11(4)(d), only allows up to two years to pass from the decedent’s death before the statute of limitations expires. However, the law also expressly states under Fla. Stat. § 95.11(10) that there is an exception if the decedent was killed through manslaughter or murder. If this is the case, the personal representative will not be burdened by any statute of limitations requirement.

Surviving Families Can Recover Economic and Non-Economic Damages

While the personal representative files the claim, damages are typically awarded to the decedent’s estate and surviving family members. Such economic and non-economic damages could include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • The decedent’s medical bills
  • The decedent’s funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of the decedent’s financial contributions
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of companionship, support, and protection
  • At trial, your attorney will fight for maximum compensation for your damages.

Connect With Sarasota’s Leading Wrongful Death Law Firm For Help Today

The wrongful death claims process is often overwhelming for the decedent’s surviving family members. On top of learning how to go on without a treasured loved one, they also need to figure out how to make ends meet without the deceased’s financial contributions and get through their days while in mourning. With help from a dedicated and compassionate wrongful death attorney, these families can take action without having to feel the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Luhrsen Goldberg does what needs to be done to make liable parties pay. Our team will do everything in our power to support the state’s criminal case and present the strongest case possible before the judge at trial. Connect with our law office today to learn more about the grounds for a wrongful death claim, when it makes sense to sue, and potentially recoverable damages. Reach us through our quick contact form or by phone as soon as today to request a free, no-obligation consultation.