A Sarasota County or Manatee County wrongful death claim starts with the death of a person that is caused by the fault of another person or from some type of strict liability, such as the liability for defective products. Wrongful death lawsuits can be simple or complex, so it is often difficult to forecast how long it will take to resolve such a lawsuit.
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Filing a Sarasota or Bradenton Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Your Sarasota County or Manatee County wrongful death lawyer may attempt to settle the claim by demanding money damages from the at-fault party or parties. If the case does not settle, the next step is to file a court document known as a “complaint” with the court to begin a wrongful death lawsuit. The person filing a wrongful death lawsuit is referred to as the “plaintiff.” The person sued is called the “defendant.” The complaint lists the facts showing why the plaintiff is suing the defendant, the law that supports the plaintiff’s claims and what the plaintiff is demanding by way of money damages. A third party called a “process server” delivers the complaint to the defendant (or all defendants if there is more than one). The defendant is given twenty (20) days to reply to the complaint. This reply is called an “answer.” The answer sets forth the defendant’s defenses to the plaintiff’s claims and may even request the court to dismiss the case.
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The plaintiff and defendant have an opportunity, right after the case if filed, to obtain information from each other about the wrongful death claim. This stage of the lawsuit is called “discovery.” Discovery consists of written questions called “interrogatories,” a deposition (or formal interview) under oath taken by a court reporter, and/or requests for documents and things.
Wrongful Death Pre-trial Motions
Prior to trial, attorneys for either side may make legal arguments about the case to the court, called “motions.” These arguments may concern details about the complaint or answer, disputes over obtaining evidence, or an argument called “summary judgement” that one party is entitled as a matter of law to win the case without a trial.
Wrongful Death Settlement
As a case gets closer to trial, the judge will make a ruling, called an “order” in writing that requires both sides and their attorneys meet with a mediator for a Sarasota or Bradenton wrongful death settlement conference where the mediator tries to help the parties reach a settlement. This is usually good for both sides in that it avoids many of the costs of litigation including a long and costly court battle.
In Sarasota or Bradenton Florida, wrongful death settlements (or verdicts for that matter) are arrived at by consideration of the following:
(1) Each survivor may recover the value of lost support and services.
(2) The spouse may also recover for loss of the decedent’s companionship and for mental pain.
(3) Minor children (all children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse), may also recover for lost parental companionship and for mental pain.
(4) Each parent of a deceased minor child may also recover for mental pain. Each parent of an adult child may also recover for mental pain and suffering if there are no other survivors.
(5) Medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent’s injury or death may be recovered by a survivor who has paid them.
(6) The decedent’s personal representative may recover for the decedent’s estate the following: Loss of earnings of the deceased. Loss of the prospective net accumulations of an estate, which might reasonably have been expected, may also be recovered:
Wrongful Death Trial
If a case cannot be settled, it will be set for trial before a judge or jury. During the trial, parties present evidence, including witnesses, and make legal and evidentiary arguments. At the end of the trial, the judge or jury will enter a verdict for the plaintiff or defendant. If the verdict is for the plaintiff, the judge or jury will also decide on an award of money damages.
Wrongful Death Appeal
The parties can appeal (have the case looked at again by a higher court) if there was a significant legal mistake in the trial.
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