"Whether it's a whiplash, serious injury or wrongful death case, we pride ourselves on representing you with the personal service and aggressive representation that you expect and deserve!" -Attorney Ron Sholes
Wrongful Death Attorneys
Strength, Compassion, and Personal Service to Effectively Handle Wrongful Death
The untimely loss of a loved one is a tragic event. This unfortunate tragedy is compounded when the loss is due to the negligence or recklessness of another individual or entity and simply shouldn't have happened. When dealing with such a wide range of emotions, it can be difficult to consider the legal ramifications of your loss. Time is often of the essence, as evidence preservation is even more critical in cases involving serious injury or death. At the Law Offices of Ron Sholes, P.A., we have a team of licensed investigators who work hand-in-hand with Ron and our seasoned attorneys on each and every serious injury and wrongful death case. This is much different than most other firms, where you simply do not have direct access and contact to the law firm’s owner—or possibly even your assigned lawyer. Simply put, we do things differently, and we take pride in providing aggressive representation with the personal service you expect and deserve. Please reach out to our team and speak directly to one of our experienced wrongful death attorneys in Florida or Georgia.
How the Law Offices of Ron Sholes, P.A. Can Help
At the Law Offices of Ron Sholes, P.A., we handle wrongful death claims due to simple negligence, reckless driving, criminal behavior such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), medical malpractice, workplace hazards, toxic and dangerous consumer products, and unmarked public hazards throughout Florida, Georgia, and the Southeastern U.S. Our attorneys are licensed in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and North Carolina. We represent the surviving families of persons who wrongfully died of injuries suffered under a wide range of circumstances, from auto accidents and truck accidents, to negligent security and product liability. We understand that the wrongful death of a loved can leave family members distraught with both sorrow and anger, and that's why we handle these claims with care. Although we aggressively fight for our client's rights in serious injury and wrongful death cases, we also understand the importance of compassion and service—personal service to the client and family who have suffered this extreme loss. We also know that while no amount of money can ever replace your loved one, it is important to hold the negligent party responsible for their actions by pursuing compensation for your loss.
Our firm can help guide you and your family through the legal intricacies of Florida wrongful death litigation while we investigate and present your claim and support your family through a difficult process of transition.
If you need advice and representation in a wrongful death case in Florida or Georgia, contact the Law Offices of Ron Sholes, P.A. for a free, no-hassle consultation, in one of our offices or at your home, to discuss the claims and your options.
Wrongful Death Laws: What You Need to Know
If someone you love has suffered a wrongful death, state law may provide you with the option of filing a wrongful death lawsuit to recover monetary damages. Our familiarity with Florida and Georgia wrongful death laws can protect you from inadvertent mistakes that might jeopardize your right to compensation. At the same time, our experience with the proof of liability and damages against negligent defendants can help maximize the overall value of your claim. Depending on where a wrongful death occurs, a wrongful death lawsuit may entitle spouses, children, parents, and other loved ones to financial compensation for emotional suffering, the deceased person's economic value, and other damages.
What Is “Wrongful Death?”
In Florida, Georgia, and other states, “wrongful death” is defined by law. In Florida, state law (Fla. Stat. § 768.19) defines wrongful death as the death of an individual caused by any “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty” by another person or party. Georgia’s wrongful death statute (Ga. Code § 51-4-1) states that a death is considered wrongful if it “results from a crime, from criminal or other negligence, or from property which has been defectively manufactured, whether or not as the result of negligence.”
Essentially, if the person who died (typically referred to as the “decedent”) would have been entitled to bring a personal injury claim or product liability claim had he or she lived, his or her death is likely considered “wrongful” under state law.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
State laws also detail who may file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Florida, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The personal representative, sometimes referred to as the “executor” of the estate, is typically someone who is either named by the decedent in a last will and testament or, if the decedent passed away without creating a last will and testament, someone appointed by the court to serve as the personal representative. While the personal representative must be the one to bring the wrongful death action in Florida, they do so on behalf of certain eligible family members, such as the decedent’s surviving spouse and children.
In Georgia, a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by certain eligible family members. The order of who may bring the action is also designated by law.
In Georgia, the following family members are entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit (in order):
- The decedent’s surviving spouse
- The decedent’s surviving children
- The decedent’s surviving parents
- The administrator or executor of the decedent’s estate
So, if there is no surviving spouse, the decedent’s surviving children would be next in line to file a claim. If there are no spouse or children, the decedent’s surviving parent(s) may file a wrongful death lawsuit. If there is no surviving spouse, child, or parent of the decedent, the administrator or executor of the estate may bring the wrongful death action on behalf of the estate and/or the decedent’s next of kin.
In Georgia, no other family member—such as a grandparent or sibling—may file a wrongful death claim.
What Damages Are Available in Wrongful Death Cases?
The purpose of filing a wrongful death lawsuit is twofold: first, the family can seek justice on behalf of their loved one who has passed away by holding the at-fault party accountable. Second, and in a more practical sense, eligible surviving family members may recover financial compensation for certain losses associated with the death of their loved one. These losses, which may be economic or non-economic in nature, are referred to as “damages.”
In Florida, eligible individuals can recover the following damages in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Medical expenses paid directly by the individual related to the decedent’s treatment and care for his or her final injury or illness
- Funeral and/or burial expenses paid directly by the individual
- Mental pain, suffering, and anguish experienced by the individual
- The value of lost services and support provided by the decedent to the individual
- Loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection
- Loss of parental guidance, companionship, and instruction, when the decedent was the individual’s parent
Additionally, the estate may recover the following damages in a Florida wrongful death case:
- Medical and/or funeral costs paid by the estate
- The value of income, wages, benefits, and other earnings lost between the date of the decedent’s final injury or illness and his or her death
- The reasonable value of income, earnings, and related benefits the decedent would have earned or contributed to the estate had he or she lived
Surviving family members of those wrongfully killed in Georgia may seek similar—but slightly different—damages under state law.
In Georgia, eligible surviving family members may seek the following types of wrongful death damages:
Damages meant to compensate the plaintiff for the “full value of
the life of the decedent,” such as:
- Lost income, wages, and other benefits the decedent would have earned had he or she lived
- The value of services and support provided by the decedent
- The value of services, advice, care, counsel, and companionship provided by the decedent
Damages intended to compensate the plaintiff for specific financial losses
sustained due to the decedent’s death, such as:
- Medical bills and related costs associated with the decedent’s final treatment and care
- Funeral and/or burial expenses
- Reasonable and necessary costs related to the decedent’s injury or illness
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Both Florida and Georgia have statutes of limitations, or filing deadlines, on wrongful death lawsuits. In Florida, most wrongful death cases are subject to a two-year statute of limitations, beginning on the date of death. However, if the decedent’s death was the result of homicide, manslaughter, or murder, there is no statute of limitations, regardless of whether criminal charges have been made or whether anyone is convicted of a crime related to the decedent’s passing.
The statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits in Georgia is also two years from the date of the decedent’s death. However, if the person died as a result of a crime, such as murder or manslaughter, the statute of limitations is “tolled,” or temporarily stopped, until the criminal case against the defendant is completed, up to six years. Once the criminal case has concluded, regardless of the outcome, eligible surviving family members have two years from this date to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Additionally, the wrongful death statute of limitations may be tolled up to five years in cases where the decedent’s estate has not been probated.