Over 25 years of experience in personal injury law

Since 1992 Vince Bruner has devoted his practice solely to work as a Plaintiff's personal injury lawyer, dedicated to assisting people injured in accidents.

Wrongful Death Lawyer in Destin, Florida

If your loved one died as a result of someone else’s negligent or intentional actions, you can file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party to recover compensation. A Destin wrongful death lawyer can assist you in filing your claim, gathering evidence, and seeking the maximum compensation Florida law allows.

Did someone else’s actions cause your loved one’s death? Contact The Bruner Law Firm for a free consultation about your case. One of our compassionate wrongful death attorneys will review your case, explain your legal options, and answer any questions you have.

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death

Personal injury and wrongful death claims are very similar in Florida. Both stem from someone’s actions causing injury to another person. And those actions can either be negligent, such as in a car accident, or intentional, such as in an assault.

In fact, according to Florida law, a wrongful death claim is effectively just a personal injury claim brought after the injured person dies. It seeks compensation for most of the same damages. The primary difference is the party bringing the claim. In personal injury, it’s the injured person, and in wrongful death, it’s the deceased’s estate.

What if the injured person dies of their injuries after starting a personal injury claim? The personal injury case is no longer standing in this case, and the estate can bring a wrongful death claim instead. Florida law states that there cannot be both a personal injury and wrongful death claim active for the victim of the same negligent or intentional action.

Step-by-Step Guide to Wrongful Death Claims

There are eight significant steps to a wrongful death claim, from consulting with an attorney to collecting your compensation post-trial or settlement.

Step 1: Attorney Consultation

Once a wrongful death occurs, your first step should be to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney. They’ll be able to assist you throughout the remaining seven steps of the process and work to increase your chance of receiving fair compensation.

Step 2: Case Investigation

Your attorney will investigate your case and gather evidence that supports your version of events. Evidence gathering could include collecting medical records, medical bills, eyewitness statements, expert witness testimony, and incident footage.

Step 3: Calculating Compensation

After the investigation, your attorney will begin calculating a fair amount of compensation based on the losses you and your family suffered.

Some of this compensation is relatively easy to calculate, such as medical expenses incurred before your loved one’s death. Other compensation, however, such as for the loss of companionship of a deceased spouse, can be harder to quantify.

Step 4: Filing Your Claim

Now that you have evidence supporting your case and know how much compensation you seek, your attorney can help the estate’s personal representative file the claim.

Step 5: Discovery

Before a case can go to trial, it goes through the discovery phase. Discovery is when both sides exchange evidence and have the opportunity to collect statements from the other side. Discovery’s purpose is to ensure no surprises pop up in court.

Step 6: Settlement Negotiations

At any point after filing your claim, you can enter into settlement negotiations with the opposing party. Trials can be expensive and time-consuming for everyone involved, so most cases end in a settlement.

If the at-fault party makes a settlement offer, the estate’s personal representative can accept or decline it, often with input from family members and the attorney. If both sides can’t agree to a settlement, the case will proceed to trial.

Step 7: Trial

At trial, your attorney will present the evidence they collected in support of your wrongful death claim. Their goal is to convince the jury that the at-fault party is not only responsible for your loved one’s death but that you deserve compensation for all the damages you’re seeking.

Once the jury decides, the judge presiding over your case will issue a verdict, marking the end. After this point, however, there may still be appeals about the verdict or amount of compensation awarded.

Step 8: Collecting Your Compensation

The last step is to collect your compensation. Collecting it could be easier said than done depending on where the compensation is coming from.

If the at-fault party’s insurance covers the total amount, for example, it may be relatively easy to collect. If your awarded compensation exceeds their insurance policy limits, however, it may be challenging to collect the remaining money. An attorney can assist by petitioning the court to enforce the entire judgment.

Recovering Compensation for Wrongful Death

Who can recover compensation in a wrongful death claim? The following family members of the deceased have the highest priority in terms of receiving compensation:

  • The deceased’s spouse and minor children
  • The deceased’s adult children
  • The deceased’s parents

Other family members, such as the deceased’s siblings, may also have a compensation claim. They come after the primary family members listed above, however. The same is true for additional dependents whom the deceased financially supported.

The damages you can seek compensation for also partially depend on your relationship with the deceased. Spouses can seek compensation for the loss of companionship, for example, and minor children can seek compensation for the loss of parental guidance.

Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyers Serving Destin, Florida

A wrongful death claim is a way for the surviving family members of someone who died as a result of another person’s actions to receive compensation for their loss. It’s similar to a personal injury claim, but the estate brings it on behalf of the surviving family.

If your loved one died due to someone else’s negligence, contact the Destin, Florida, wrongful death attorneys of The Bruner Law Firm online or at (850) 243-2222 for a free consultation. We’ll evaluate your case and help you understand your legal rights.

Frequently Asked Questions

We have answered some of the questions we get from our new clients here for your information.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a claim filed by the estate of someone who died as a result of injuries caused by another party’s negligent or intentional actions. It seeks to recover compensation for the deceased’s family members.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?

The personal representative (executor) of the deceased’s estate is the only person who can file a wrongful death claim. They do so on behalf of the deceased’s family members, including their surviving spouse, children, or parents.

What Types of Compensation Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful death claims offer various types of compensation to surviving family members, including:

  • Medical costs your loved one incurred due to the injury that led to their death, including costs of surgeries, treatments, and prescription medication
  • The future support and services your loved one would have provided, such as the housework they typically performed
  • The future wages your loved one would have contributed to your family
  • The future benefits your loved one would have provided to your family, including healthcare and retirement benefits
  • The loss of companionship, parental guidance, and parental instruction
  • The mental pain and suffering experienced due to the loss of your loved one. Parents of an adult child who died can only seek this compensation if there are no other survivors
  • Funeral and burial costs

How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Destin, Florida?

The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years after the death of your loved one. Failure to file your claim within this time limit could result in the courts tossing it. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can make sure your claim gets filed correctly and on time.

How Can a Wrongful Death Lawyer Help Me With My Case?

A wrongful death lawyer can critically help you with your case, including gathering evidence supporting your claim and representing you in negotiations and court.

Experienced wrongful death attorneys are familiar with collecting various kinds of evidence, including security camera footage that may have captured the incident. They also have connections with expert witnesses, including financial and medical professionals, who can testify on your behalf.

When it’s time for negotiations or trial, having a knowledgeable attorney on your side can make the difference. In negotiations, your attorney can make sure the opposing counsel doesn’t take advantage of you with a lowball offer. And at trial, your attorney can display all their knowledge and experience before the jury.

What Do I Need to Prove a Wrongful Death Occurred?

There are four components you will need to demonstrate to prove that you have a valid wrongful death claim:

  • The defendant was responsible for acting reasonably, such as by not drinking and driving.
  • The defendant failed to act reasonably, such as by driving under the influence.
  • The defendant’s actions caused your loved one’s death, such as by causing a fatal car accident.
  • You and your family suffered losses as a result of your loved one’s death, such as the loss of their income to help support your family.
Written by Vincent Michael Last Updated : July 8, 2024

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