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Wrongful Death in a Police Shooting

Wrongful Death

What’s worse than losing your loved one, other than knowing it was due from the willful act or negligence of another party? What if your loved one was shot by police and you believe the shooting was unwarranted? Besides the obvious pain and grief of losing a loved one, losing them in an unanticipated wrongful death incident can be unbearable.

The nature of a shooting is usually public knowledge and has other direct impact on the lives of the survivors. There are always economic considerations attached to this terrible family tragedy, as well. When a bread winner dies, the further impact on the rest of the family can be devastating. Even for non-bread winners, there are expenses involved in dealing with the aftermath of any death, and a police shooting carries additional ramifications. In order to get compensation for your loss, you might need to consider filing a wrongful death suit.

What is a Wrongful Death Suit?

If you believe your loved one was wrongfully shot by the police, there are two avenues that could be taken when such an act comes into question. If it is determined that the shooting was a willful act based on anything other than necessity of the situation according to policy and circumstances, a criminal consideration for the police shooting may be pursued by authorities.

For dissatisfied loved ones of the deceased, the avenue to follow involves legal action. In Florida, the Wrongful Death Act refers to section 786.16 of the Florida negligence statute. In order to successfully execute any wrongful death claim, negligence of the defendant, which could be the shooter, other officers and the department or others, must be proven. The statute’s intent is to make sure the losses experienced by the survivors of the deceased are transferred to the person or entity at fault for the death.

In these suits, survivors may be awarded various forms of compensation. The point is to compensate for actual loss suffered by survivors due to the death of the family member based on the relationship between the survivors and the deceased, as well as the probable life expectancy had the deceased lived. Types of damages that could be awarded:

  • Missed probable income or wages of the deceased
  • Replacement of value of expected services to survivors
  • Spousal loss of companionship
  • Minor’s loss of parental companionship
  • Mental pain and suffering
  • Medical and/or funeral expenses

This might be challenging since when filing negligence against the police in a shooting, the use of excessive force needs to be proven. If the court determines that the officers had reason to believe they were in imminent danger of the deceased at the time of the shooting, there will be no damages awarded for wrongful death.

Survivors – Who Can File a Claim?

The same Florida statute states that survivors of the deceased are eligible to file a wrongful death claim. The statute defines those survivors as:

  • Family members of the deceased i.e.- Spouse, children under 25 years old, parent
  • Other blood relatives and adoptive siblings who were partly or entirely dependent on the deceased for services or support, including a child born out of wedlock for a mother, and for the child of a father born out of wedlock, as long as the father has been recognized legally as responsible for that child’s support.

It’s difficult to stand up to a government entity such as a police department on your own. You need experienced and compassionate representation from attorneys who can help you know your rights and stick with you until the end. If you feel your loved one was the victim of a wrongful death involving a police shooting, call Tison Law Group for your free consultation right away.


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