Wrongful Death Causes: The Causes, Who Can File and the Burden of Proof

by | Jul 31, 2019 | Law Services

When one person is injured and then dies as a result of the carelessness and negligence of somebody else, Florida law allows the decedent’s personal representative to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Usually that individual is a close relative of the decedent, and he or she is appointed by the court. Once appointed, the personal representative represents the probate estate of the decedent along with certain family members who survived him or her.

Types of Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death cases are civil cases. Although they might be heard at the same time as a criminal case revolving around the same facts, they’re heard in separate courtrooms with separate judges and juries. Here are some of the types of accidents that might give rise to wrongful death cases:

  • Automobile, truck and motorcycle crashes
  • Accidents involving bicyclists and pedestrians
  • Construction and industrial accidents
  • Accidents that result from dangerous conditions on property owned or occupied by somebody else
  • Accidents caused by dangerously defective products
  • Medical malpractice

The Burden of Proof
A person might be found not guilty in a criminal prosecution but guilty in a wrongful death case. That’s because these cases have two separate burdens of proof. In the criminal case, the defendant must be proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, he or she need only be proved guilty by a preponderance of the evidence. According to our West Palm Beach wrongful death lawyer, what that means is that the plaintiff’s version of events is more likely true than not true.

Don’t Help the Opposition
That lower burden of proof in civil cases isn’t determinative, though. In a wrongful death case, an insurance company knows that it’s looking at significant financial exposure. It’s going to do anything that it can to shove off some or all of the fault for the accident onto a decedent, or it might otherwise attempt to devalue the estate’s or family members’ damages. That insurer is going to start building its defense right away, so don’t cooperate with it.

Start building a wrongful death case by contacting a West Palm Beach wrongful death lawyer at Janssen Siracusa & Keegan PLLC at as soon as possible after your family member’s death.

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