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.