We are a firm of Miami personal injury and wrongful death attorneys helping people who have lost loved ones in auto accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, or due to medical malpractice.
Wrongful Death Claims Attorneys in Miami, Florida
A wrongful death claim is a suit that arises from the death of an individual that was caused by the conduct of another. A wrongful death law suit is different from other types of personal injury claims because the actual victim (the "decedent") is not bringing suit, rather it is the family members or the decedent's estate. As such, a wrongful death claim is brought to recover damages for the injuries that the surviving family and/or estate have suffered due to the death of the victim. We understand that no amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one. However, we help our clients achieve financial security so they can focus on recovering from their loss.
Damages for Wrongful Death
Once the plaintiff has established the defendant's liability in a wrongful death suit, the plaintiff must prove the type and amount of damages to which he or she is entitled. Joshua J. Hertz has dedicated its practice to helping injured people receive the compensation they deserve. The amount and type of damages available in a wrongful death case vary based upon the particular matter's circumstances. Some types of damages and methods for calculating damages are described below. If a loved one has been wrongfully injured or killed, call us now to discuss the damages that may be recoverable in your case.
Amount of Damages
Generally, the jury determines the amount of damages in a wrongful death suit. The amount of damages awarded is a fact-specific determination and can vary dramatically from case to case. The jury may consider the decedent's age, life expectancy, occupation, health condition, spending habits, level of activity, interests, death and surrounding circumstances along with other factors in determining an appropriate damage award.
Full Value of the Life of the Decedent
Florida wrongful death law seeks to redress entitled parties with an amount that represents the "full value of the life of the decedent," the monetary value of the deceased's life established by the evidence with no deductions for any of the deceased's necessary or personal expenses had he or she lived. The full value of the life of the decedent may include items with proven monetary value like lost potential lifetime earnings, income, or services, reduced to present cash value, or lost intangibles like a parent's society, advice, and counsel as determined by the jury. The full value of the life of the decedent is a figure that the jury is asked to decide using their "enlightened conscience." As discussed above, the jury may consider both economic and noneconomic factors in determining the full value of the life of the decedent.
When calculating the economic component of the full value of the decedent's life, the jury is often instructed to equate this sum to the amount's present value. The present value calculation accounts for future losses in today's monetary terms and allows wrongful death awards to be paid in a lump sum.
In order to calculate present value, the future economic loss is typically first calculated using a life expectancy table. This table is only a guide and the jury may consider the life habits and health of the decedent in estimating life expectancy. In other words, the jury may conclude that the decedent's life expectancy was longer or shorter than suggested by table guidelines. After a probable life expectancy is derived, the number of years that the decedent would have lived is multiplied by the annual income that would have been received. Once this future loss is calculated, it is discounted using a mathematical formula. The purpose for discounting this sum is to arrive at the present value of the lost dollars that would have been received by the decedent over a period of time.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages may be available where it is demonstrated that the decedent suffered before death occurred. Whether, how much, and how long the plaintiff suffered are issues for the jury to decide. The fact-intensive issue of whether a decedent was conscious and suffered pain or anxiety before their death is frequently disputed. Performing a thorough investigation, collecting and presenting evidence, and delivering a persuasive argument to the court are critical tasks for an experienced trial attorney whenever pain and suffering damages are at stake.
Medical and Funeral Expenses
Damages based upon the decedent's funeral expenses, medical costs, and "other necessary expenses resulting from the [decedent's] injury and death" may also be recoverable in a wrongful death suit. To be eligible to recover these types of awards, the parties seeking recovery must somehow bear the burden of paying associated funeral expenses or medical costs incidental to the injury that caused the decedent's death. Where funeral or medical expenses apply, a damage award may be supplemented with any appropriate interest payment.
Punitive damages, or exemplary damages, are awarded in torts cases to punish or deter a defendant. Punitive damages may be awarded only where the plaintiff establishes that the defendant's actions showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or a high degree of carelessness. Generally, to justify a claim for punitive damages, aggravating circumstances must exist in the act or the intention of the wrongdoer.