Any time a person passes away, loved ones can be devastated. Survivors can struggle with considerable grief and anxiety and nothing about the situation can feel “right.” In this context, every death can seem wrongful. However, in the legal context, there are very strict rules about the elements of a wrongful death claim.
If you have recently lost a loved one, you should understand that you very well may have grounds to pursue a wrongful death claim. However, first you should know a little bit about what needs to be proven in these cases.
Perhaps the most important aspect of a wrongful death claim is evidence of the negligent or dangerous action that caused a person’s death. This means that in order for a death to be considered “wrongful,” it must have been caused by a wrongful act.
According to Florida statues, wrongful acts can include negligence, recklessness, breach of contract or any other act involving misconduct.
To illustrate this point, let’s consider a fatal car accident. If a person is killed after another driver runs a red light, there may be grounds for a wrongful death claim against the reckless driver. If a person is killed in a crash because his or her brakes malfunctioned due to a product defect, survivors may have a claim against a negligent manufacturer.
However, if a fatal accident was caused by weather or in spite of everyone’s best efforts to prevent the crash, there may be no wrongful act and therefore no one to hold responsible for the resulting damages.
In theory this may all make sense; in reality, the distinction between wrongful acts and non-wrongful acts is not so easy to make, especially for survivors who are already struggling to cope with a loss. If you have recently lost someone in a fatal accident, you would be wise to discuss the situation with an attorney who knows what to look for in terms of negligence or misconduct and what is necessary to build a wrongful death claim.