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When someone dies in an accident or because of a crime, their family could sometimes bring a wrongful death claim. These claims hold people, companies, and governments accountable when their negligent or intentional acts lead to someone’s death.

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil claim, meaning the only remedy is money. The wrongdoer will not go to jail as a result. However, the funds could help a family establish a secure future and allow the deceased person’s loved ones to pursue their dreams.

If your family member died, and you believe someone else is to blame, contact a Pace wrongful death lawyer as soon as you can. A compassionate personal injury attorney could review your case, explain your legal options, and help you seek justice for your loss.

A Wrongful Death Claim Is Different Than a Criminal Prosecution

A wrongful death claim could arise in any circumstances where someone’s conduct or failure to act led to death. In many cases, but not all, the behavior that led to the wrongful death was against the law. Examples include a drunk driving accident or arson fire that led to fatalities.

Prosecutors might charge the perpetrators with the crime, and if they prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the perpetrators might face prison or other penalties. However, the family receives nothing even if the prosecution is successful.

The deceased person’s family could file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court regardless of whether a prosecutor brings a criminal case. A Pace wrongful death attorney representing the family only needs to prove the defendant is responsible for the death by a preponderance of the evidence, which means it is more likely than not. If the family wins the wrongful death claim, they receive monetary compensation from the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company.

How to Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

When someone dies, the property and debts they leave behind are called their estate. Someone must administer the estate, which means to collect the deceased person’s property, sell it if necessary, pay the deceased person’s debts, and distribute the rest to the heirs. The person who takes on these tasks is the estate’s personal representative, and they are appointed by a Probate Judge.

The personal representative must be the plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit. The personal representative could be a family member, friend, or someone who is a stranger to the family. However, if the claim is successful, any proceeds—called damages—are distributed to the deceased person’s family members and the estate.

The personal representative must file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the death. However, a lawyer must have evidence proving another party is responsible for the death, and it is best to examine physical evidence and interview involved parties soon after an incident. The sooner a personal representative or family member engages a qualified Pace attorney to pursue a wrongful death action, the stronger the case could be.

Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

A wrongful death lawsuit could result in a pre-trial settlement, or it might go to trial, and a jury might issue a verdict. Any money resulting from a settlement or verdict is called damages. Florida Statutes § 768.21 describes the damages a family could receive from a wrongful death lawsuit. The rules are complex, but a knowledgeable legal professional could help a family understand how the damages will be distributed.

Family Members

A surviving spouse and other family members who received financial support from the deceased person are entitled to damages equaling the present value of the money they would have received from them if they had lived. The expected life expectancy of the deceased person and recipient affects this calculation. Members of the deceased person’s household can collect the value of the services they provided, like home maintenance, transportation, or caregiving.

A surviving spouse can collect compensation for loss of companionship and mental anguish. The children of the deceased person could seek damages for the loss of their parent’s guidance and companionship. A parent could seek damages for the loss of their child’s love and affection.


The deceased person’s estate could claim the money the deceased person would have earned over their expected lifespan, minus the amount they contributed to support their family members. The personal representative would use this money to pay the deceased person’s debts. Any amount remaining would go to the family members.

Seek Compensation After a Wrongful Death with a Pace Attorney

A loved one’s unexpected death is a devastating event, especially when its cause was another person’s negligent or intentional misconduct. A wrongful death lawsuit can be a way to hold a wrongdoer financially accountable.

Do not wait too long before exploring the possibility of legal action. Contact a Pace wrongful death lawyer today.