Let a Florida Prison Death Lawyer Provide Your Family with Answers and Compensation
Lauer and Currie has obtained substantial verdicts and settlements in cases involving the wrongful death of inmates in jail or prison. These deaths are normally caused by the failure to treat alcohol and/or drug withdrawal, denial of medical care, starvation, dehydration, infection, and other acts of indifference to a serious medical condition. Our six most recent Federal civil rights cases have resulted in settlements ranging from $950,000 to $3,000,000. Typically, the Defendants in our wrongful death cases are the officials in charge of a local jail or State Prison and the private correctional healthcare company operating within the facility. In the past fifteen years, we have recovered tens of millions of dollars for our clients and our work has resulted in substantial reforms to the medical care that inmates receive in jails and prisons. We understand the grief the families feel, and we encourage you to schedule a consultation with a Florida prison death lawyer to help you with your claim.
Prison Deaths in Florida a Cause for Concern
According to the Florida Department of Corrections, during the fiscal year 2019-2020, there were more than 100 prisoner deaths:
- 40 accidental prisoner deaths
- 13 prisoner deaths by homicide
- 24 prisoner deaths by suicide
- 38 deaths yet to be classified as the medical examiner has not yet released their conclusion
Types and Causes of Unnatural Deaths While Incarcerated
Two types of death can occur while incarcerated. As determined by the coroner, the official cause of death usually determines whether a death is considered natural or unnatural. Natural death is defined as any death that does not happen due to homicide, suicide, or an accident. Unnatural death occurs as a result of homicide, suicide, or accident.
Examples of Unnatural Death
- Homicide: A prisoner may die due to harm caused by another prisoner or a correctional officer. Death resulting from a chokehold, for example, would fall into this category.
- Suicide: Suicide occurs when a prisoner brings about their own death. A common method used is strangulation.
- Accident: An accidental death is one that could have been prevented. Examples include death caused by substance abuse withdrawal or other types of medical negligence.
A Law Firm Dedicated to Inmate Wrongful Death Claims
Whenever a person dies in prison or police custody, the family members deserve a thorough and unbiased investigation by an independent party to find out what really happened. Although law enforcement may conduct their own investigations, in our 15 years of experience, these investigations are often one-sided, designed to cover up wrongdoing and rarely expose the truth. These intentionally deceptive investigations are even more common if your family member died due to the medical care provided by a private company working within the jail. Frequently companies providing correctional health care negotiate a flat fee to be paid by the State or the County in exchange for providing healthcare services to inmates. The obvious consequence of this type of fee arrangement is that any reduction in the cost of providing healthcare services will increase the company profits.
At Lauer and Currie, P.A. every year we file several wrongful death cases where an inmate has died because they were not transported to an outside hospital for necessary care. Through our work we’ve learned that most times when an inmate needs to be transferred to a hospital it is the correctional healthcare company who will be responsible for the hospital bill. These providers are not sending inmates to the hospital because it will substantially decrease their profits. The private inmate healthcare companies always choose their shareholders’ wallets over the inmates’ constitutional right to adequate medical care.
We have learned through experience that the inmates who usually are the most often neglected are the ones most in need of care. Frequently, this means our Florida prison wrongful death lawyers represent the loved ones of inmates with mental illness and substance abuse disorders. We have seen hundreds of these inmates put into solitary cells and ignored until they died. It is our job to get compensation for the loved ones left behind and do what we can to correct this system for future inmates.
Our Florida Prison Death Lawyer Breaks Down Your Lawsuit
At Lauer & Currie, P.A., we assist the families of inmates who have suffered unconstitutional harm at the hands of their jailers. As Florida inmate wrongful death lawyers we have a strong history of obtaining substantial settlements and verdicts for our clients, and are able to consistently deliver exceptional results.
Surviving family members or the estate of a prisoner who died while incarcerated may be able to sue for wrongful death. The family member determined by the probate court to be the estate’s representative will assist the wrongful death attorney in preparing their case. Other family members may still have input on how the case proceeds or whether or not the case should settle if a settlement offer is made.
Our attorneys will determine who the proper defendant(s) should be in the case. In addition to the governmental entity in charge of managing the institution where the death occurred, a private company contracted with the government who is also responsible. These lawsuits are founded upon a violation of state and federal constitutional rights. The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution prevents “cruel and unusual punishments” from being inflicted, and the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution prevents states from depriving any person of “life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”
Eighth Amendment Protection
The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution holds that “excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” It has consistently been held by courts that the systemic denial of food and water constitutes a cruel and unusual punishment. In Dearman vs. Woodson, (429 F.2d 1288) it was determined that a prisoner’s claim of deprivation of food for 50.5 hours could constitute an Eighth Amendment violation. Other forms of abuse such as medical neglect or failure to monitor mental health are also Eighth Amendment violations.
Basic Determinations For Wrongful Death Compensation After an Inmate Death
In order to receive compensation for wrongful death caused by deprivation of food and water or other cause, there are several basic determinations that must be made to determine the proper way to proceed.
Is the facility in question a jail or a prison? A jail usually houses persons awaiting trial or hearing as well as those convicted of minor crimes. A prison generally houses offenders convicted of crimes of a more serious nature. Determining the type of facility where the deprivation or abuse occurred is an important part of the process.
Determining who the responsible party is in a case of wrongful death by deprivation of food and water or abuse and neglect is more complex than it may at first seem. For example, is the institution public or run by a private company? Has the medical care for prisoners been contracted to a third party? Once these assessments have been made, your Florida prison death attorney will be better able to determine the responsible party.
Damages in a Florida Inmate Wrongful Death Case
The amount and type of damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death case depend largely on whether or not the case is brought in state or federal court. Our experience has taught us that it is most beneficial to bring cases in federal court whenever possible. This is because the following damages may be recovered in federal court:
- Pain & Suffering
- Future Lost Wages
- Cost of Funeral Expenses
- Punitive Damages
- Attorneys Fees & Costs
Also, there is no cap on damages awarded in the federal court system, while there is a $300,000.00 cap on damages awarded in Florida state courts.
Contact Our Florida Prison Death Lawyers Today
If your loved one has died due to the deprivation of food and water while incarcerated, or if you have suffered significant damages due to other forms of abuse and neglect, call Lauer & Currie, P.A. today. We are proficient Florida inmate wrongful death lawyers who know how to hold those responsible for such outrageous conduct liable for their actions. Contact us online or call our law firm at 954-533-4498 to schedule a consultation for your prison wrongful death case.