Losing a loved-one can be an extremely devastating event in one’s life. Despite the significant emotional trauma of having a loved one pass away, families may also face considerable financial difficulties without the support of the deceased. In many cases, the compensation provided as a result of a wrongful death lawsuit can help ease this financial burden.
What is a Wrongful Death?
Generally, wrongful death claims are civil actions made by the survivors of an individual who has passed away due to the negligence or misconduct of another. In the state of Florida, the Florida Wrongful Death Act governs wrongful death claims. Any individual (who is a survivor of the decedent) may file a lawsuit against the responsible person when any death is caused by any wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract of warranty. The wrongful death action is designed to provide compensation for relatives who depended on the decedent for emotional and financial support.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Case
- Conduct that amounts to a wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty;
- The conduct upon which the lawsuit is based must have caused the death of the decedent;
- The conduct that is the basis of the lawsuit would have entitled the person injured to file a lawsuit and recover damages if they had not died.
Examples of Potential Wrongful Death Cases:
- Car Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Bus Accidents
- Train Accidents
- Medical Negligence or Malpractice
- Construction Accidents
- Cruise Ship Accidents
- Boating Accidents
- Premises Liability Cases
- Nursing Home Abuse or Negligence
- Birth Injuries
- Defective Drugs
- Gunshot Wounds
- Defective Products
- Excessive Use of Force By Law Enforcement
- Fatal Actions of Third Parties
Most Common Wrongful Death Cases:
- Traffic Accident Cases
- Medical Malpractice Cases
- Product Defect Cases
- Premises Liability Cases
Wrongful Death Damages in Florida
Pursuant to Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, there are certain damages that the decedent’s survivors may recover. There are also damages that the decedent’s estate may recover. (The estate is essentially what the decedent left to any beneficiaries under his will or others in his or her lineage if there was no will).
Who Can Sue For Damages In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In the state of Florida, the personal representative of the estate is entitled to bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of any and all estate beneficiaries. However, in many cases, damages are somewhat limited. The personal representative may also bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the “survivors” of the person who died. In fact, the personal representative is required to include all survivors in any wrongful death action.
- The decedent’s spouse;
- The decedent’s children (although minor children, defined as those under the age of 25 pursuant to the Florida Wrongful Death Act, are entitled to higher damages);
- The decedent’s parents; and
- When they were at least partially dependent on the decedent for support or services, blood relatives including adoptive brothers and sisters.
Survivors May Recover Damages For:
- Lost Support and Services
- Loss of Decedent’s Companionship and Protection
- Mental Pain and Suffering
- Lost Parental Companionship, Instruction and Guidance
- Medical and/or Funeral Expenses
The Estate May Recover the Following Damages:
- Loss of Net Accumulations
- Decedent’s Lost Earnings
- Decedent’s Medical and Funeral Expenses
Are There Any Other Damages That May Be Recovered?
In addition to compensatory damages, a court may also choose to impose punitive damages on the negligent party. Punitive damages are appropriate in situations where a party’s intentional, reckless, or grossly negligent actions result in a wrongful death. These damages serve to punish the offending party, as well as discourage others from behaving similarly in the future.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the time within which you must file your Florida wrongful death claim, or else the claim will be barred.
The general rule is that the statute of limitations for Florida wrongful death actions is two (2) years from the date of death; however, there are some exceptions, which completely change this general rule.
Because of the statute of limitations, you will have a limited time period in which to file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for damages. Let me help you seek closure and justice. Call Amber Hall, for a free consultation.
Amber Hall Law understands the hardships and suffering families face after the wrongful death of a loved one. AMBER HALL LAW is dedicated to seeking fair compensation for wrongful death clients. To learn more about your legal options following an unexpected death, contact AMBER HALL LAW today.