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Standard of Proof in Wrongful Death Claims in Tampa

June 19, 2015

Standard of proof refers to the level of evidence that the accuser must provide to support his or her claim against the accused. The standard of proof for civil cases is less stringent than criminal cases. A wrongful death claim must be filed in civil court, and the courts often use the preponderance of the evidence standard.


Reasonable Doubt


Beyond a reasonable doubt is a standard of proof that is often used in criminal cases but very rarely used in civil cases. In criminal cases, the plaintiff must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused is guilty. This burden of proof might make it difficult to win a case in which someone’s negligence caused another person’s death. However, a claimant can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit in Tampa, and get a totally different result.


 Preponderance Vs. Clear and Convincing Evidence


To win a civil case the plaintiff must prove that it’s more likely than not, that the defendant’s actions caused the injury. Clear and convincing evidence is less stringent than reasonable doubt, but more lenient than preponderance of evidence.


Juror Instructions


When instructing jurors during civil cases, Florida courts instruct jurors to decide if the greater weight of the evidence that the claimant provides supports the claims brought against the defendant.  If it does, then they can find for the claimant. Otherwise, they must decide in favor of the defendant.


Who Can File A Claim


In Florida, a personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death claim.  The personal representative is often named in a will, but if the decedent did not leave a will, the courts will appoint a personal representative for the decedent’s estate. The representative can file the wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent’s children, spouse, parents and any relative who was dependent on the deceased person.


Time Limit


In most civil cases, the state of Florida recognizes a delayed discovery, which allows a claimant to file a claim when he or she discovers the injury.  So, the count down to the statute of limitations doesn’t begin until after this discovery.  However, Florida courts often don’t apply this rule to wrongful death claims. Thus, if the decedent’s representative decides to pursue a wrongful death claim in Tampa, he or she must file the claim within two years of the date of death. 


wrongful death lawsuit Tampa

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