Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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Under Florida law, it is possible to seek a wrongful death claim if negligence or recklessness has led to a fatality. These types of legal claims usually result from car accident cases, medical malpractice cases in Homestead and Florida, or other situations where a liable party has contributed to a fatality.

Not everyone can file a wrongful death claim, however. In most cases, the plaintiff is a spouse or family member responsible for final medical expenses and other costs related to the fatality. In most cases, the plaintiff is an immediate family member who will also suffer damages because of the fatality, often because they have lost a family member who was making financial contributions to the household. Siblings, parents, children, and spouses are most often the plaintiffs who file wrongful death claims. However, if you think you may have a claim, it is important to speak with a personal injury attorney to find out whether you qualify.

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Liable parties who can be sued in a wrongful death claim include anyone whose negligence, wrongful act, or recklessness contributed to the death. Liable parties can include:

•A doctor or medical professional who was negligent
•Another individual
•A company or corporation
•A manufacturer of a defective
Depending on the specifics of a case, there may be multiple liable parties. This may be able to help plaintiffs secure fair, full compensation for their injuries and for a range of damages, including:

•Final medical bills
•Loss of companionship
•Loss of financial support and other services
•Pain and suffering
•Memorial or funeral expenses
Under the Florida Wrongful Death Act (Section 768.21), a survivor “may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to her or his death, with interest, and future loss of support and services from the date of death.” A personal injury attorney in Homestead or Florida can help a grieving family determine whether they have a claim and can seek out the cause of a fatality. This can help a family decide whether to file a wrongful death claim in Homestead and can help determine what can be done. In many cases, they can also help evaluate how much a claim may be worth.

Of course, many families who are grieving after losing a family member are not thinking about legal matters due to the immense grief and trauma of the situation. However, it is important to consider financial and legal matters as well. If the person who has passed away had children, especially, seeking fair compensation can help those children have the financial resources needed for schooling and other important areas. Pursuing compensation is a way of pursuing justice and holding those liable accountable for negligence and recklessness. It is also a way to secure financial support for a family so that a family can focus on healing.

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A death in the family is always a tragic and painful event, but when that death is caused by someone’s recklessness or negligence, it can be even more difficult to accept the loss. In these cases, Florida law does protect the bereaved family and does offer legal remedies to allow the family to recover financial resources.

Miami accidental death or wrongful death cases are often caused by Miami car accidents, Miami misdiagnoses, and other accidents. In some cases, Miami wrongful death suits are filed in conjunction with medical malpractice or other lawsuits. When a death is preventable or is caused by negligence or recklessness, legal action may be taken by the survivors. Any settlement or court win in these cases can help the family secure financial resources that can be used to pay for final medical costs, lost income, funeral expenses, and other costs associated with the accident.

Miami accidental death lawsuits usually require a highly skilled Miami personal injury attorney. This is because the plaintiff must prove that a death has been caused by a negligence or recklessness and must be able to prove that the death has had a financial impact on a family. A good attorney will usually work with private investigators, expert witnesses, and other professionals to get the facts about an accident. For example, if a death may have occurred due to Miami nursing home abuse or negligence, an attorney will investigate the facility in question to find out whether there are any policies or staff members that may be responsible for the events that have occurred. In addition, a Miami personal injury attorney will help a grieving family evaluate the medical costs, memorial costs, and other costs associated with the death. In many cases, attorneys can pursue damages for lost income and for pain and suffering, as well.

Some families are reluctant to contact a Miami personal injury attorney after losing someone, but this decision can have a serious impact on a family’s future. Of course, the pain and suffering of a family will not be lessened by legal action, but in many cases the assistance of an experienced Miami personal injury attorney can help ensure that a family does not suffer severe financial as well as emotional distress. The unfortunate truth is that losing a loved one can have a devastating impact on a family’s finances. If the lost loved one was an income earner, a household may have far less money and may lose access to some employment-based benefits as well. If the deceased has children, those children need to be provided for. In addition, there are often medical costs and memorial costs to consider. In many cases, family members may lose work and therefore income due to their grief or may need counseling or other forms of help in order to cope with the loss. Pursuing legal action can help a family secure the financial resources to pay for all these needs.

There is another reason to speak with a Miami attorney if you think you may have a case. In many cases, changes only come about because those who are responsible are held accountable for their actions. When a family is courageous enough to take legal action, the ensuing look at what has caused a death can bring about changes that prevent a similar incident from occurring again. For example, if a family pursue a legal action after a Miami truck accident, the truck carrier found liable for the fatalities in that case may make important safety changes as a result of the legal action, possibly sparing other families from loss.

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Accidental death or wrongful death suits occur when someone kills someone else through negligence or a willful act. For example, if a fatality occurs in a drunk driving accident, the family of the victim may pursue a wrongful death suit against the drunk driver. Statues govern the areas of law associated with accidental death suits. Every state has some form of accidental death legislation. These statutes were originally created to help orphans and widows who were left financially ruined after an accidental death. The statutes also aim to prevent preventable accidents and willful acts that lead to personal injury and fatalities.

Unfortunately, decisions about accidental death suits must often be made after a big loss, usually when families feel least able to confront such large legal matters. Hiring a qualified Florida personal injury attorney in such a situation is important. A caring attorney can advise you of your rights and options and can guide you through the process if you decide to seek action.

It is important to realize that accidental death lawsuits are completely separate from criminal proceedings. Even if someone has been acquitted in a criminal court of law, a victim’s family may still seek a civil action. Do not assume that you do not have an accidental death suit unless you have spoken to a qualified Florida personal injury attorney.

Accidental death cases may arise from intentional or unintended actions. If someone causes a head injury that eventually results in death, that can result in an accidental death lawsuit. If someone inadvertently causes a car accident that leads to a fatality, this can also lead to an accidental death lawsuit. However, an accidental death lawsuit can not be filed in cases where an unborn child is killed. If someone causes an accident which results in a woman losing her unborn child, a wrongful death suit cannot occur. However, if the woman gives birth to the child and the child later dies, then an accidental death lawsuit may result.

There are many guidelines as to who can file an accidental death lawsuit. Generally, a victim’s children, surviving wife or husband or next of kin can seek a wrongful death action. In some cases, children may sue only if they are not adults. In some cases, as well, parents can only sue if their children are unmarried and still financially dependant. Much depends on the specific jurisdiction in which a case is filed.

There is a family immunity, which prevents some family members from suing other family members for wrongful death. For example, a minor child cannot usually sue a parent for a wrongful death. This rule ensures that insurance companies do not have to pay multiple family members for the same accident.

In addition to family immunity, accidental death cases may be affected by sovereign immunity, which allows governments to be protected against lawsuits. Most states have waived this right in most cases, so that people may sue governments for negligence. However, sovereign immunity remains in the sense that there is a strict statute of limitations. This means that if a government has caused a death, in most cases the family has only a short period of time to file a claim.

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The first lawsuit stemming from the recent outbreak of the H1N1 virus (commonly called the swine flu) has been filed. The wrongful death claim has been filed by Steven Trunnell, the husband of Judy Trunnell. Judy Trunnell was the first American to die from the virus and her husband is suing Smithfield Foods. That US company owns the pig farm in Mexico where the recent outbreak is thought to have originated.

Trunnell underwent a caesarean section a few days before her death and delivered a baby girl. A few days later, May 5, she was admitted to hospital and she never recovered from the flu symptoms which lead to coma and death.

One issue in the suit may be whether Trunnell had health problems before her death. Her husband claims that she enjoyed “excellent” health while health officials have reported that Trunnell suffered from “chronic” health problems, which played a role in her death. The CDC eventually amended its claims to assert that Trunnell had mild asthma and psoriasis. Trunnell’s husband claims his wife did not have asthma, but was prescribed an inhaler once for a cold. Trunnell’s husband initially contacted an attorney because he was concerned about the inaccuracies reported by health authorities to the media about his wife.

Steven Trunnell has filed a petition in Cameron County’s state district court. The petition requests permission to gather more information about Smithfield Foods to determine whether a wrongful death claim is legitimate. Steven Trunnell and his attorney allege that overcrowding and poor conditions at the Veracruz, Mexico pig farm owned by Smithfield Foods created a breeding ground for the virus. Smithfield Foods, a $12 billion company, has stated that their pig farm does not have a negative impact on the health of the surrounding communities. Some health officials have questioned whether the H1N1 virus originated at the Veracruz, Mexico pig farm.

Steven Trunnell’s case may be one of many, especially if his petition is granted and his attorneys are allowed to question Smithfield Foods employees and other relevant parties to gather information and evidence. So far, there have been three deaths in the US, but the HINI virus has wreaked havoc with tour operators, travel businesses and even small businesses who have had employees travel to Mexico.

In fact, many businesses are worried about the legal impact of the H1N1 virus. Many worry that if a sick employee infects others in the workplace, the employer will be held at least partially responsible. Many employers are concerned about creating a safe workplace and are supplying disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizers. Other employers are wondering how to discourage sick employees from coming in to work and are wondering about sick time policies and the H1N1 virus. Since the virus originates in Mexico, some employers are also worried about discrimination lawsuits if they ask employees from Mexico who have recently visited their native country to stay home. It is also possible that the virus will create some headaches with workers compensation when some ill employees file claims.

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A wrongful death lawsuit generally stems from a situation in which a family member has been killed by negligence or wrongful conduct. In many cases, wrongful death suits stem from medical malpractice cases, nursing home and elder abuse cases, and from some types of accidents. The decision to pursue legal action is usually very difficult for families and usually these lawsuits occur at a very emotional and challenging time, when a family is still grieving. For these reasons, it is essential to hire the right Florida attorney for your case.

It is important to seek out an attorney with extensive experience and proven success in wrongful death cases. These cases tend to be quite difficult, since families must essentially prove that negligence led to the death and that no reasonable actions were taken to prevent the death. These cases can be time-consuming and can involve intricate details, so a qualified attorney is a must.

When hiring an attorney for your wrongful death suit, keep in mind that investigation will play a large role in the case. Your attorney’s first strategy will be to find out as much about the death as possible. Therefore, you may want to ask what investigative resources your attorney has. Does your attorney work with private investigators? If so, how qualified are they? Does your attorney have a strategy for investigating the case?

Be prepared to offer your help and to share as much information as you have about the death. Keep in mind, too, that many qualified wrongful death attorneys will need good access to medical experts and other experts to conduct their investigation and to have expert witnesses on the stand. You may want to ask your attorney about the medical and other professionals he or she knows who can help with the case.

Many wrongful death suits are settled out of court, before a trial is actually needed. Therefore, your attorney may need better negotiating skills than courtroom skills. Also, keep in mind that your attorney will need to take depositions for your case. Depositions are statements made under oath. Usually, people associated with the wrongful death case will need to give their depositions for the case. You may want to ask your attorney who will be taking care of depositions and how qualified this person is.

Although most wrongful death suits are settled before trial, it is a good idea to select an attorney with trial experience. In the event that your case is one of the few that does go to court, you will want a legal professional who can win court cases. Beyond these basic considerations, you will also want to look for an attorney who listens to your concerns and is compassionate. Someone who communicates well with you is also important, as you will want to be kept aware of the status of your case.

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When students in mental distress at universities harm themselves or others, who is liable? What can and should universities do about students in mental distress? These questions have been in the spotlight ever since the shootings at Virginia Tech earlier this year, but the problem has been around much longer than that.

Since the Virginia Tech killer Seung-Hui Cho had a well-documented and reported history of mental disturbance – a history that many now claim was dismissed by authorities – many are questioning whether the university could have done more to prevent the tragedy that eventually occurred at the school. Some have argued that universities tend to either ignore threats or overreact to them.

Some schools have faced wrongful death lawsuits filed by parents who have lost a child because of another student’s disturbed mental state. In response, some of these colleges and universities have implemented policies that automatically suspend those who seek psychiatric help. Some of the students suspended in this manner have successfully sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act or have sought action with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The balance between school liability, student safety, and human rights seems particularly sticky in these situations.

Although the Virginia Tech situation is utmost on everyone’s minds, it is far from the only case involving wrongful death suits and other sticky legal cases on college campuses. Another high-profile case involved Elizabeth Shin, a student at MIT. In April 2000, the woman set herself on fire in her dorm and succumbed to her burn injuries. It was the student’s second suicide attempt and reports indicated that Shin had told a dorm supervisor and two students about her suicide intentions. Her parents filed a $27-million wrongful death lawsuit in 2002, arguing that the school and various faculty were liable as they knew about Shin’s intentions but did not take adequate steps to prevent the tragedy.

According to the Jed Foundation, about 1,100 college students commit suicide each year. A survey of college counselling center directors in 2006 revealed that 92% of college counselling center directors feel that there has been an increase in the number of seriously mentally ill students. Some experts argue that the high stress of college life coupled with less outpatient treatment than might be available to students at home can lead to serious problems. Additionally, some disorders, such as bipolar disorder, tend to first appear in the late teens and early twenties, when students are often in college.

Some experts question how universities respond to students who are ill. George Washington University sophomore Jordan Nott was the subject of many headlines in 2004. In November of that year, Nott went to the university hospital after becoming frightened by his own thoughts. The university barred him from returning to his dorm room and forced him to withdraw from the school. Nott was told that if he did not withdraw from the school he could be subject to suspension, expulsion, and criminal charges. Nott filed a lawsuit against the university, which received widespread criticisms of its actions. Bluffton University, Woodbury University, DeSales University and several other schools have been reprimanded by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights for their treatment of students with a mental disability. Some experts argue that schools that have such tough policies discourage students from seeking help, which can actually encourage more tragedy.

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Attorneys in Florida can only launch wrongful death suits on behalf of clients when cases follow the guidelines set out in the Florida Wrongful Death Act. The act only allows specific people to seek damages for a wrongful death. These persons include:
*A surviving spouse. A spouse may seek damages for loss of companionship, for pain and suffering and for lost services and economic support. This means that any income the deceased could have made in a lifetime and any household services or tasks the loved one would have completed are taken into consideration when determining wrongful death suits. If a spouse paid funeral or memorial service costs, the spouse may be able to sue for these costs to be covered as well.

*A dependent or partly dependent blood relatives. If the person who has passed on supported or helped to support grandchildren, parents, siblings, children, or even adopted children, those persons can launch a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation for the support lost.

*Surviving children of the person who has passed on. Any surviving children under the age of 25 can recover damages for lost support but also for lost parental guidance, loss of companionship and for suffering.

*The estate of the person who has passed on. It is possible for an estate to seek “lost net accumulations of the estate” damages, which are damages against any assets which the loved one may have acquired during their lifetime. When an estate files a wrongful death suit, it is important to hire qualified Florida attorneys, as these cases require expert testimony to prove what sort of assets a person could have reasonably earned over a remaining work-life expectancy. If a wrongful death was caused by medical malpractice, the estate can also usually seek damages to cover medial bills attributed directly to the medical negligence.

Some groups point out that the Florida Wrongful Death Act may not fully protect the elderly and young, unmarried adults. Cases of nursing home and elder abuse are rife, but if an elderly loved one passes away due to the negligence of a nursing home or elder care facility, the estate may not be able to bring a lawsuit under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, if the children of the elderly person are over 25 years of age and if the person has no surviving spouse. At most, a family devastated by their loss might be able to sue for medical costs and funeral expenses. Similarly, independent adults who are unmarried and have no children may also fall prey to medical malpractice, but their devastated families may not be able to face those responsible in court.

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Recently, Lois Forsberg Moscatello filed a wrongful death suit against Magen Carmony and the Polk County School Board. The case stems from the fact that Moscatello’s mother, Hilda, was a nursing home patient who died after a slip and fall accident in her bathroom while supervised by a Polk County student. The lawsuit alleges that while in at the Highlands Lake Center Nursing Home, the plaintiff’s mother was being supervised by a health science education student from the Traviss Career Center in Lakeland. The student allowed the patient to use the bathroom with no supervision and this led to a fall that apparently later led to the patient’s death. The lawsuit claims that the student should have known or should have been instructed that leaving the patient alone in the bathroom was dangerous.

The lawsuit alleges that the Polk County School Board did not properly train the student, did not provide enough staff help for the student, and did not tell the nursing home that the student may not have had the right training for the tasks she was required to perform in the home. The lawsuit alleges that all these factors signify negligence on the part of the school board.

The case has already polarized the community. The Polk County School Board claims that its students are much needed in professions and receive the training and help they need to do their jobs safely and well. Obviously, the Moscatello family, bereft of a family member, feel differently.

No matter how one feels about the tragedy, the fact is that tragedies such as this do occur. Slip and fall accidents and wrongful death suits are presented before the courts every day and make up a significant part of many attorneys’ case loads. According to the Florida AgSafe Network Web site, there are a number of things that can be done to prevent such tragedies. For example, safety features such as no-slip surfaces can be applied to floors, bathtubs, and other areas in a home. Proper supervision of the elderly or ill can, of course, help prevent many accidents. All surfaces and potential slip hazards should be examined regularly and steps should be taken to keep all surfaces slip-resistant.