We asked a wrongful death attorney in Florida to be honest with us about
how to know if you actually have a wrongful death case worth pursuing.
This is what he said:
The Hardest Part
It's perfectly normal, when a loved one has dies, to feel as though
someone can be blamed and that, as survivors, the party to blame somehow
'owes' you something for causing the death. The feeling is perfectly
valid – and it's often correct – but it's not always
easy to prove in a legal sense, which means that many families that are
seeking justice will never get what they're looking for. Above and
beyond the burden of proof, there are also a significant number of occasions
in which the person who passed away was actually at fault for their own
death, which can be very hard for a family to accept.
Either way, in almost every incidence of allegedly wrongful death, the
first question to have to answer is the toughest: do you actually have
a case? If you don't, no lawyer will represent you (and, suffice to
say, if you try to represent yourself, the lawyer for the defense will
utterly destroy you in open court.)
How To Tell If You Have A Case
The primary attribute of 'having a case' is your ability to prove
that someone else's actions or inactions directly led to your loved
one's death. The 'someone' can be a person who was negligent,
like a road construction worker failing to put up warning signs of a displaced
manhole cover, or a company who didn't perform their due diligence
and was thus liable for the death, like a car company whose vehicles get
their accelerators stuck down.
Without any way to prove that someone else was at fault, you don't
have any legal ground to claim that they owe you anything for the death
– a wrongful death without a culpable party is just an accident,
and accidents do actually happen. Here are the questions you can ask to
determine if someone was being negligent:
- Did someone knowingly do something that directly led to the death? If so,
were they aware of the potential risk involved?
- Did someone familiar with a given procedure do something non-standard or
outside of normal practice during the procedure, and thus cause the death?
If so, was their deviation sanctioned by your family member before the
- Did the death occur because of poor training, faulty equipment, or unsafe
conditions at work? If so, was the condition known beforehand by the management?
- Did the death occur because someone who could have prevented it did nothing?
If so, did they know that they could have prevented the death?
Having the answers to these questions (in legally admissible form) is the
heart and soul of all wrongful death suits. If you have them, you'll
find that any wrongful death lawyer in Florida wants to talk to you about
your case. If you don't, you'll have to find one willing to investigate
and hope he finds the proof you need.