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How and When Can You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Schools and Agencies?

Wrongful DeathAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 2004 to 2013 there were 340,039 fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes in the United States. Of these, 4%, (or 1,214 crashes) were classified as “school transportation-related”, which means that they involved a school bus or other vehicle serving as a school bus to transport children to and from school or related activities, such as field trips or sports events.

The NHTSA reported that, on average, about 134 fatalities occur in school vehicle-related crashes every year in the US. Such crashes give rise to wrongful death lawsuits against schools and agencies.

Liability in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Involving a School or Agency

Whether it is for parents, family members, or caregivers, the death of a child always brings emotionally distressful times. In many cases, an allegation arises that the death was caused by the negligence or misconduct of a person though to be responsible for the child’s safety.

In wrongful death lawsuits against schools and agencies, it is important to sift out the emotions and focus on facts alone to determine the merit of an allegation like this. Some of the questions you need to ask include:

  • Did the school or agency have a duty to ensure the protection of the child?
  • Did they follow standards of care?
  • Did they breach those standards?
  • Was the child’s death actually caused by the breach of those standards?

When the child is in a daycare program, school or camp, it is the duty of the school or agency to make sure that the child is protected by providing appropriate supervision. When there is an allegation that there was a breach of this duty on the part of the school or agency and it resulted in the death of a child, a wrongful death claim may ensue.

For a school or agency to be found liable for a child’s wrongful death, that entity must have had a duty of care and breached that duty, resulting directly in the death of the child. It must, in turn, be shown that the death resulted in injury or loss to another, such as surviving family members like parents and siblings.

Essential Elements in a Wrongful Death Cause of Action

There are certain elements that need to be present in order to file a successful wrongful death cause of action, such as the following:

  • A human being’s death
  • Death caused by negligence or intent to cause harm by another person
  • Survival of family members who suffer monetary losses due to the death (though a family does not face a monetary loss when they lose a child, they do face the loss of a family member which is tragic)
  • The appointment of a personal representative for the estate of the decedent

In the context of schools and other agencies, any number of situations can give rise to wrongful death claims. Such examples include:

  • A bus accident
  • A child drowning in a swimming pool or falling from a cliff during a field trip
  • A fold-up lunch table weighing 300 pounds falling onto a child from a cafeteria wall
  • A school security guard shooting and killing a student on school property
  • Excessive discipline
  • Administering the wrong medication

Unfortunately, these are only a few examples of the countless circumstances that could result in the death of a child.

Conditions for Liability

A school or agency may be held liable for a child’s wrongful death in the same way that it might be held liable for a child’s injury. They have the same conditions, but death is the ultimate result, and damages are focused on surviving family members rather than the injured party.

Whether they are the plaintiff or defendant attorney, there are a number of questions that lawyers need to consider when determining the merit of filing a wrongful death lawsuit or defending against one:

  • Was it the school or agency’s duty to protect the decedent in that particular situation?
  • What reasonable standard of care should have been applied under the circumstances, and was that standard applied by the school or agency?
  • If this standard was breached, was it a significant factor in causing the death?
  • Could the proximate cause of injury or death have been prevented by any intervening variables?
  • Did the deceased child contribute to their own death through self-negligence?

Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

In a typical lawsuit for wrongful death, an attorney will seek to recover damages for the surviving family of the victim, including the following:

  • Immediate expenses that are associated with the death, i.e. medical, hospital, medication and funeral costs
  • Loss of potential for future earnings
  • Loss of consortium
  • Injury or destruction of the relationship between the parents and the child
  • Emotional distress

The actual amount of compensation that can be recovered in such lawsuits depends largely on the facts of each individual case. In cases of wrongful death of a child, non-economic damages, such as loss of the child’s love, affection, comfort and companionship, are the most significant damages.

Getting Legal Help for Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Wrongful death claims or lawsuits are emotional and, as a result, many factors need to be considered to recover damages. Some of these can be difficult to prove, which is why you need to have a legal professional to handle cases involving the wrongful death of a child caused by a school or agency’s negligence. Such lawsuits can be complex and you can expect the school or agency to fight back with their own team of lawyers.

If you have lost a child due to the negligence of a school or agency, you should immediately seek the legal expertise of a wrongful death attorney. At Fetterman & Associates, PA, we have a team of skilled and committed attorneys who have the expertise to handle such cases and make sure that the negligent party is held liable for their actions and pay the compensation you are entitled to by law. Call us at 561-845-2510 today for a free case evaluation.

Additional Reading

Top 10 Things You Want To Know About Medical Malpractice Cases

3 Shockingly Common Types of Medical Malpractice

Damages in a Wrongful Death Case

In a personal injury lawsuit, medical expenses are generally recoverable, assuming the other party is at fault. However, medical expenses may not have been a significant expense if your loved one passed away at the scene of an accident.

Instead of a personal injury suit, if you lost a loved one, you may be able to assert a wrongful death claim on behalf of your family member’s estate and the surviving family members. But, what kinds of damages are available in a wrongful death case?

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What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a legal option if a loved one was killed due to the negligence of another person. Only certain family members can assert this type of claim. However, the family representative is required to list every family member who may have a claim on the petition. The suit must be filed within four years of the date of death in most situations.

Wrongful death claims developed in a time when one person was often the only breadwinner in a family. If that person passed away, then a family would no longer be able to support themselves.

The wife and children would then assert a wrongful death claim to compensate them for the funds that the breadwinner would have earned. Today, this type of claim applies to virtually everyone and the damages that a family could receive have been expanded.

Wrongful Death Damages in Florida

Florida has a specific wrongful death statute that explains what damages are available in a wrongful death claim.

  • Family can recover lost support and services from injury to death
  • Family can also recover loss of future support and services
  • Spouse may recover for loss of companionship and protection (sometimes referred to as “loss of consortium”)
  • Spouses and children may recover for mental pain and suffering
  • Minor children can recover for loss of parental companionship if there is no surviving spouse
  • Parents of a deceased minor child can recover for mental pain and suffering and parents of an adult child can also recover if there are no other survivors
  • Medical and funeral expenses related to the injury (reimbursed to whoever paid them, even if it was the estate)
  • The estate can recover loss of earnings (less support of survivors and subject to the victim’s creditors)

The victim’s family or estate may also be able to recover for any pain and suffering that the victim would have felt between the time of injury and the time of death.

How a Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help

If you attempt to “go it alone” in a wrongful death case, you may not get all of the damages that you and your loved ones are entitled to simply because you did not know they were available.

An experienced wrongful death attorney, like those at Fetterman & Associates, PA can help. Get the law team on your side by starting with a free case evaluation. Call 561-845-2510 to get started.

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Boca Raton Woman Hit a Cyclist While on a “Cocktail” of Drugs : Bicycle Accident Attorneys

An early morning disaster could have been avoided, it seems. A fatal truck on bike accident was caused by complete disregard for responsibility and the safety of others.

A 65-year-old man was taking his daily ride to McDonald’s when he was struck by a Ford F-150 and killed by a young driver impaired by prescription medications. The event was violent to watch, according to witnesses, who reported that the cyclist was tossed over the hood of the truck on impact.

The accident left the bike itself destroyed with a twisted frame and parts strewn about everywhere. The forces involved were enough to damage the front of the truck, break a headlamp, and dent the hood and front grill.

Criminal Charges Filed for Accident

Cyclist Hit By A Woman in Boca RatonAccording to the Sun Sentinel, the woman, 24-year-old Boca Raton resident Bianca Fichtel, has been arrested and is facing serious charges including manslaughter while driving under the influence.

Witnesses say the truck swerved into the bike lane killing George Morreale. Bystanders came to his aid until paramedics arrived on the scene, but efforts were in vain. According to those who knew Morreale, he made that routine ride on his blue Schwinn bike to have breakfast almost every morning.

Another woman said she was almost struck when the Ford quickly swerved back out of the bike lane and sped away from the accident scene. She then followed the truck as it eventually circled back.

Fichtel originally claimed that Morreale had steered his bike in front of the truck. However, several witnesses to the incident refuted these claims as lies. A passenger in the truck was not able to corroborate Fichtel’s version of events as he says he was texting at the time and just assumed the vehicle hit a curb.

The “Cocktail” of Drugs

Investigators quickly noticed numerous pill bottles littering the cab of the Ford. Being caught red handed, Fichtel rattled off a laundry list of prescription medications she had taken before the crash. Her confession came only minutes after being confronted by police. Soon after, Fichtel demanded the assistance of a lawyer before answering any more questions.

Reports filed by investigators described her as both unsteady on her feet, and according to police, impaired. A toxicology report concluded that at least nine different medications were present in Fichtel’s system at the time. Some of the pills were very strong according to experts including Clonazepam and Oxycodone.

When asked why they returned to the scene, Fichtel’s passenger answered that she was “pretty sure she didn’t hit a curb.” At present, Fichtel has been arrested and arranged and is being held on $25,000 bail.

Personal Injury and Bicycle Accident  Attorneys In Florida

Our firm offers unparalleled expertise to Florida residents when it comes to dealing with car crashes and personal injury and their aftermath, please contact Fetterman and Associates and our team of experienced personal injury attorneys immediately at 561-880-4610 for a free legal consultation.

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How to Fight for Survival Rights in Wrongful Death

Have you or someone you know experienced a wrongful death in your family? Wrongful deaths can be due to a number of different accidents such as malpractice, vehicle accidents, or even accidents that occur on a premises, just to name a few. Wrongful deaths, however painful, can also mean rights to surviving family members. Contact the law office of Fetterman & Associates today to find out how your family may be entitled to rights following a wrongful death.

How to Fight for Survival Rights in Wrongful Death

Survivors that have been impacted by a wrongful death of a family member or friend no doubt experience great pain, grief, and most survivors’ worst nightmares, especially since most wrongful death incidents are often unexpected. All in all, if you have lost a family member in an accident that has occurred in the state of Florida, then you may have the legal rights to ensure accountability for your unexpected and devastating loss.

Under Florida state law, survival action is a legal response from surviving family members associated with a victim who is deceased due to the negligence of another party. Survivors can seek the legal advice and assistance of a personal injury attorney in order to continue the deceased victim’s claims. A survival action is a lawsuit that the deceased person could have been entitled to should he or she still be alive.

For example, if a victim was harmed in a motor vehicle accident on behalf of another party who was perhaps under the influence, and the victim suffered severe injuries, but survived, then he or she would have the right to sue the other party. In the cases where an individual dies from the accident, then that right is passed along to a surviving family member to fight on behalf of the now deceased victim. Fetterman& Associates team of legal professionals specialize in the area of personal injuries that result in wrongful death.

A living relative or family member of the deceased victim has a legal right to sue for the loss and damages due to the wrongful death. Losses may include the loss of life of a loved one, the loss of support and companionship, and even financial loss and other damages associated with wrongful death. It is important to note, however, that the state of Florida limits the number of losses claimed per suit, so be sure to consult with a personal injury or wrongful death attorney for guidance in this area.

All in all, the professional legal team of Fetterman& Associates has a great deal of experience in the realm of personal injury and wrongful death. Contact a professional legal team member for a free, no-obligation consultation on personal injury and wrongful death, and to see how legal representation can assist with survival rights related to wrongful death.

West Palm Beach Wrongful Death Attorney

If you are unsure of how or if you qualify for survival rights or if you have the right to sue or take legal action against a third party who was deemed negligent and, therefore, responsible for wrongful death, be sure to visit our website for more information on personal injury and wrongful death. Be sure to also check out how our West Palm Beach Wrongful Death Attorney can help represent you, as well as our clients’ testimonials on how their cases were managed and handled, and the overall outcomes.

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Should AEG be held liable for Michael Jackson’s death?

Music legend Michael Jackson died on June 25th, 2009 from a heart attack attributed to a combination of drugs prescribed by his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray. Jackson at the time was in the rehearsal stage for an upcoming comeback tour sponsored by entertainment giant AEG.

Michael Jackson’s death?

Dr. Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 and sentenced to four years in prison. In a trial that began April 29th, 2013, Jackson’s mother and three children are suing AEG for more than a billion dollars in a wrongful death lawsuit claiming AEG negligently hired and negligently supervised Dr. Murray.

The Arguments for AEG Liability

The plaintiffs may argue that AEG pushed Jackson to conform to a schedule that he was not physically fit for and likewise pressured Dr. Murray to do whatever it took to get Jackson on stage, without due regard for his health and well-being. They will argue that AEG was guilty of negligent hiring in selecting Dr. Murray, who apparently was deeply in debt and therefore may have had ethical dilemmas regarding the care and treatment of his patient. The plaintiffs may also claim that AEG is liable for negligent supervision. Emails which have surfaced suggest that the show’s director was concerned about Jackson’s health and health care when Dr. Murray kept Jackson away from a rehearsal. The director made his concern known to an AEG executive, who responded by warning the director not to become an amateur physician. The executive said he had immense respect for Dr. Murray, and that he “is extremely successful (we checked everyone out) and does not need this gig, so he totally unbiased and ethical.”

Defense will say Murray was hired by Jackson, not AEG

The defense is likely to counter that Murray was not employed by AEG but instead was hired by Jackson himself as his personal physician. Although Dr. Murray’s $150,000 (per month!) salary was to be paid by AEG, the defense characterizes this arrangement as an advance payment to Jackson. Rather than focusing on Murray’s debt, the defense wants to shine the spotlight on Jackson’s own financial troubles, suggesting that Jackson was aggressively pursuing the comeback tour and pushing himself beyond his limits, in opposition to the plaintiff’s picture of AEG aggressively pursuing Jackson and pushing him to perform. At Fetterman & Associates, our attorneys recognize the importance of identifying all the parties who may be legally responsible for causing a personal injury or wrongful death. We understand the various legal theories which may be applicable in any particular situation and what it takes to prepare and present a persuasive case to judge or jury. In Palm Beach and Port St. Lucie, contact Fetterman & Associates for a free consultation with an experienced and successful personal injury lawyer.

Also Read :

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Jackson Family Sues AEG in Michael Jackson Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The wrongful death lawsuit against Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) in the death of pop superstar Michael Jackson began April 29th, with opening statements from the lawyers for the plaintiffs and defense.

Michael Jackson Wrongful death Lawsuit

The suit is being brought by Michael’s mother, Katherine, and his three children, Prince, Paris and Blanket. Michael’s mother and two of his children are among the around 100 witnesses expected to testify in the trial, along with a list of celebrities including Diana Ross, Quincy Jones, Spike Lee, Prince, Lou Ferrigno, and Michael’s former wife Lisa Marie Presley.

Other witnesses necessary to the trial will include medical experts on both sides who will testify as to the cause of death and whether medical negligence contributed to the death.

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor’s treatment falls below the acceptable standard of care for the patient. Conrad Murray, the doctor attending to Michael Jackson who apparently administered a fatal dose of the anesthetic Propofol as a sleep aid, was earlier convicted in a criminal trial of involuntary manslaughter and is currently serving out a sentence.

Financial experts will also be needed to testify as to the proper amount of damages. Since Michael would have supported his children and family for years to come, his future earning potential had he lived is an important element to determine.

The plaintiffs will argue he would have earned well over a billion dollars, although the defense will surely argue this figure should be much less in the event they are held liable for the wrongful death.

The trial is expected to last about four months, which is a long time for a civil trial but is understandable in light of the amount of money involved and the complex issues at play.

It remains to be seen whether the plaintiffs will be successful in holding AEG liable for negligently hiring and negligently supervising Dr. Murray, and thereby bearing some legal responsibility for Jackson’s death.

Florida Personal Injury Attorneys

Fetterman & Associates pursues wrongful death claims against those responsible for causing the death of another through medication errors or other forms of negligence or misconduct.

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent or wrongful conduct of another, our Florida personal injury attorneys may be able to help. Call us today at our North Palm Beach or Port St. Lucie location for a free consultation.

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