Tampa Bay Wrongful Death Lawyer
A recent research study concluded that medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States, just after cancer and heart disease. Many deaths caused by medical negligence go unreported; if a patient dies of a heart attack following a surgical error or administration of the wrong medicine, the cause of death will be listed as cardiac arrest, simply because official forms don’t have a category of Medical Mistake for the coroner to check. Uncovering a wrongful death caused by medical malpractice or other negligence is not always easy, but the skilled and knowledgeable Tampa Bay wrongful death lawyers at Masterson, Hoag & Smith have decades of experience helping family members in St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay hold responsible parties accountable for the loss of a loved one, whether due to medical malpractice, an auto accident, or some other form of negligence.
Facts about Florida Wrongful Death Law
A claim for wrongful death in Florida mush be filed by the person appointed as the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. Damages are recoverable on behalf of the estate and statutorily defined “survivors.” Certain family members who qualify as “survivors” under the Florida Wrongful Death Act can recover damages for their losses.
“Survivor” family members and the estate of the deceased can recover for the full range of damages caused by the wrongful death of the deceased, including:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of earnings from the time of injury until death
- Loss of future earnings
- Value of lost support and household services
- Loss of spousal companionship and protection
- Loss of parental companionship, instruction and guidance
- Mental pain and suffering
Wrongful Death Caused by Medical Malpractice
In 2017, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the state’s limitations on noneconomic (pain and suffering) damages in the case of wrongful death from medical malpractice was unconstitutional. As in any other wrongful death case, juries hear the facts, including the acts of malpractice involved and details about the life of the individual who was lost, in deciding on an appropriate monetary amount. At Masterson, Hoag & Smith, we take the time to build the best case detailing the full range of damages that are appropriate in the case.
It can often be difficult to prove that a death was caused by medical malpractice. A person may already have been gravely ill with a serious health condition or in need of a complicated surgery, so that proving it was malpractice which caused the death can be challenging. This process requires reviewing hospital records, the details of autopsy reports and statements of doctors and nurses with knowledge of what happened. Obtaining an expert opinion that medical negligence occurred and caused or contributed to the death is essential. As experienced medical malpractice attorneys, our team is skilled and capable of investigating and evaluating the quality of care provided. This will enable a compelling case to prove the responsibility of the doctor and/or hospital.
The general timeframe for bringing a wrongful death claims is 2 years from the date of the death. In cases of medical malpractice, the two years is calculated from the date of the malpractice or the date when the malpractice was actually discovered or should have been discovered, up to four years from the date of the malpractice. Whether this four-year period applies in the case of a wrongful death caused by medical error depends on the facts of the case and requires a complex analysis by knowledgeable and experienced attorneys. The Statute of Limitations should be viewed as running at the earliest possible date because failure to timely file an action will bar a claim. If timely filed, a petition to extend the Statute of Limitations can be filed to extend the time limitation by 90 days.
Experienced Tampa Bay Wrongful Death Lawyers Providing Compassionate, Dedicated Representation in Wrongful Death Claims
If you believe that the death of a loved one may have been caused by medical malpractice, or if you lost a family member due to the negligence of another in a car accident or other tragedy, contact Masterson, Hoag & Smith in St. Petersburg for a no-cost review of your case.