Need a Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney?
If a friend or a loved one has died as a result of the negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct of someone else, you may be asking:
- Can I make the wrongdoer take responsibility for causing the wrongful death?
- Can I make the wrongdoer pay money damages for the suffering they have caused?
- Will I have the financial resources to support myself or my children?
- Can a Tampa wrongful death lawyer help me?
If the wrongful death occurred in Tampa or any other Florida city, we can help. At Distasio Law Firm, we are here to answer all of your questions. But more importantly, we have the experience, dedication, determination, and discipline that it takes to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. We know there are many wrongful death lawyers in Tampa that can make that claim. What sets us apart from the others is our passion to make a difference in our clients lives and make our community a safer place to live.
The Distasio Law Firm Difference
How do you know if you have hired the best Tampa wrongful death lawyer? The simplest way to know is to find a lawyer that has all the below characteristics.
- Knowledge and Experience Handling Wrongful Death Cases
Your lawyer should not only know Florida law. That lawyer should also have years of experience handling wrongful death cases. Scott Distasio has been handling wrongful death cases in Florida for over 28 years. His years of experience investigating, negotiating, settling, filing lawsuits, taking depositions, and going to trial will absolutely make a difference in your case.
- Independent Verification of the Lawyers Ability
All attorneys claim they know what they are doing. Their marketing materials may also be persuasive. But you will only know the truth about that lawyer if the lawyer is rated by respected independent non-biased rating systems. Scott Distasio has an “AV rating by Martindale-Hubbell law Directory. This is the highest rating an attorney can receive for both ability and ethics. Scott Distasio is also Board Certified by the Florida Bar in Trial law. To achieve this accomplishment a lawyer must have tried a minimum number of cases to a jury and pass a competency exam. Less than 1% of all Florida lawyers are Board Certified.
- Willingness and Ability to Go to Trial
Not all Florida wrongful death cases go to trial. The truth is most cases settle. But if your case does need to go to trial it’s important to hire a law firm that has the experience, resources, and ability to try your case. Scott Distasio is a board-certified civil trial lawyer. This gives him the right to call himself an expert trial lawyer.
What is a Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death occurs when a person, corporation, or other type of organization wrongfully causes someone’s death. Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought in many different types of situations. Common types of cases involve Motor vehicle accidents; nursing home abuse and neglect; medical malpractice; and slip and falls. No matter where the death occurred, the important thing is that the wrongdoer’s actions must have led to more than just a fatal accident. Instead, the conduct must be either negligent, reckless, or intentional. If the conduct is negligent, the survivors are entitled to money damages to make up for loss of support and services, and for loss of companionship and mental pain and suffering. In addition, the persons estate is entitled to money damages for net accumulations, funeral expenses, and medical expenses. If the conduct is reckless or intentional, a jury can also provide for punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer and deter future conduct.
What Wrongful Death Damages Are Available in Florida?
The damages that are recoverable in a wrongful death case are different in every state in the country. In Florida, wrongful death damages are controlled by statutes called the Florida Wrongful Death Act. You can find these statutes in Chapter 768.16 through 768.26 of the Florida Statutes. This act covers every city in Florida, including Tampa. Many damages you would think are recoverable are not. For example, the lost wages of the person that died are not recoverable. Instead, the persons estate is entitled to something called net accumulations. In its simplest terms, net accumulations are the amount of money a person would normally have left over from their income during their lifetime as savings after paying all of their bills. In addition, the persons survivors are entitled to money for the financial support and services the decedent would have contributed over their lifetime if they had lived. The pain and suffering of the person that died is also not recoverable in most circumstances. Instead, the persons survivors are entitled to money damages for their loss of companionship and mental pain and suffering.
The key question in any wrongful death case in Florida is, “Who are the survivors”? This depends somewhat on the type of case. Generally, survivors include minor children (defined as children under 25) and the spouse if any. In cases that do not involve medical malpractice, if there are no minor children and no spouse then adult children are entitled to damages for loss of companionship and mental pain and suffering. In cases where there are no children of any age and there is no spouse, then the parents of the decedent are entitled to damages for their loss.
Unfortunately, in medical malpractice wrongful death cases, the Florida legislature has succumbed to the healthcare industry lobby. As a result, people you and I would assume are survivors in some circumstances are not entitled to any recovery. Basically, the damages in a medical malpractice case that involves minor children and or a spouse are the same as any other wrongful death case. However, in a medical malpractice case involving death, if there are no minor children and no spouse, the adult children and or parents of the decedent are not entitled to a recovery. In practical terms this means the Florida legislature has decided that medical malpractice cases involving death of unmarried people with no children and unmarried people with adult children have very little value.
How Much is a Wrongful Death Accident Case Worth?
No attorney can tell you during an initial consultation what a wrongful death accident case is worth because there are simply too many variables that are unknown until a lot of work has been done. Even after a case has been thoroughly worked up, case values are really just educated guesses. The true value of any wrongful death accident case is the last dollar offered by the defense or if that is rejected, whatever a jury awards. But there are many factors an experienced wrongful death accident attorney will consider in recommending a case value. The first thing to consider is whether the other side has insurance and if so, the amount of the insurance. The truth is, in many wrongful death cases, the value is limited by the amount of insurance available. This is especially true in car accident wrongful death cases. For those cases with little or no insurance, the next thing to consider is whether the wrongdoer has the assets to pay a jury verdict. When the wrongdoer is a person or a small company, the answer is often no. The reason this is important is that a person or corporation that does not have the assets to pay a jury verdict will simply declare bankruptcy and wipe out the recovery.
Assuming the wrongdoer has plenty of insurance or financial resources, the most important consideration in valuing a wrongful death accident case is the relationship of the decedent and the survivors. This is because the largest portion of most wrongful death verdicts is for the loss of companionship and mental pain and suffering of the survivors. When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. If the decedent and the survivors had a very poor relationship, a jury will award little if any money. If the decedent and the survivors had a very close loving relationship, a jury will award a substantial amount of money for their loss.
How Long After a Wrongful Death Do I Have to Bring a Claim?
Every type of personal injury case must be brought within a certain time or it is barred forever. The last day you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit is called a statute of limitations. In Florida, the wrongful death statute of limitations depends on the type of case. Most case are controlled by Florida statute 95.11(4). Under that statute the lawsuit must be brought within two years of the date of death. If you do not bring a lawsuit within that time you can never do so.
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice, nursing home, and assisted living facility cases is a little better. In those types of cases, you must bring the lawsuit within two years of when you knew or should have know of the wrongful conduct that caused the death but no more than four years from the date of the event.
Looking for a Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney? Call 813-259-0022 Today!
Finding the Best Tampa Wrongful Death Lawyer
When a fatal accident happens, you need a personal injury lawyer with the experience, dedication, determination, and discipline necessary to make the wrongdoer take responsibility for their actions. At Distasio Law Firm we have been helping families hold wrongdoers accountable in wrongful death cases for over 28 years. If your friend or loved one has suffered a wrongful death, we know we can help. Sure, we will aggressively pursue the case. But many lawyers can do that. What sets us apart from other personal injury law firms is our passion to help our clients and make our community a safer place. At Distasio Law Firm, we know the emotional trauma you have experienced.