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What makes a death 'wrongful'?

Car crashes can happen in the blink of an eye and oftentimes, there is nothing a person can do to stop one or react in time to get out of harm's way. Sadly, in many cases, these accidents result in fatalities that leave a victim's friends and family shocked and devastated.

In these horrible situations, loved ones can be left with far more questions than answers and they don't know what happened, who was to blame or how they will be able to cope with the sudden and tragic loss. Of course everyone can feel like these deaths would be considered 'wrongful' and that they should have the right to take action and hold the appropriate party responsible. However, in the legal sense, wrongful means something very specific.

Florida wrongful death laws state that a wrongful death is one that has been caused by the wrongdoing, negligence or breach of contract by another person. Simply put, it is the result of someone else's failure to do or not do something expected of a reasonable person.

For example, let's consider a situation in which two cars are driving down I-275 during a severe storm. The roads are treacherous and both cars are driving very slowly when one driver loses control, swerves off the road, crashes and is killed.

If it is determined that the fatal accident was caused by the weather conditions, there would not necessarily be grounds for a wrongful death claim. If, however, the driver lost control trying to avoid the other car because the other car had broken tail lights and had slowed down suddenly, the other driver may be held accountable for not having working brake lights. Alternatively, if the crash happened because the other driver was drunk or driving recklessly, then there may also be grounds for a wrongful death.

Essentially, we want readers to understand that wrongful death, in the legal context, is not the same as unfair or untimely death. It is the concept that someone else had a duty to do or not do something and failed to comply with this duty. Working with an attorney can help you more clearly understand wrongful death laws as they relate to your specific situation. 

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