Understanding Florida’s Wrongful Death Statute
The sudden loss of a loved one from another’s carelessness can leave family members wondering how to find justice. A wrongful death claim might be the answer.
What is a Florida Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a legal action brought by the survivors of a person killed by the negligent, intentional, or reckless behavior of another person.
Money cannot bring a loved one back. However, a wrongful death suit can hold the defendant accountable and offer some comfort to grieving family members.
Deciding to file a wrongful death claim after the death of a loved one is a deeply personal choice. When you are ready to talk with a wrongful death attorney, our legal team at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk is here to help you pursue justice.
What Are the Common Causes of Wrongful Deaths in Florida?
Wrongful death claims arise out of many types of conduct. However, several common causes of wrongful death include:
- Car accidents,
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents,
- Unsafe working conditions,
- Unsafe commercial and residential premises,
- Medical malpractice,
- Dangerous products,
- Preventable child deaths including accidental drowning, and
- Accidental poisoning.
If your loved one died because of another person’s misconduct, contact our wrongful death lawyers. You might be able to file a wrongful death claim.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in Florida?
The Florida wrongful death statute allows the victim’s estate to sue on behalf of the surviving family members. The personal representative can bring a case against a person whose “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty” caused the victim’s death. If the victim lived and could have recovered damages against the defendant, then the personal representative might have a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate instead.
Under the wrongful death statute, Florida permits a personal representative of the victim to sue.
If the victim appointed a representative in a will, that person can act as the plaintiff. If the victim did not leave a will, the personal representative is the surviving spouse or one of the victim’s other family members.
The personal representative is the plaintiff in a wrongful death action. However, the representative recovers any damages for the benefit of the victim’s surviving family members and/or the estate.
What Damages May Be Claimed in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Damages That Can Be Claimed by Relatives
In Florida, wrongful death damages available to surviving relatives are set out in Florida Statute section 768.21.
Mental pain and suffering
Certain surviving family members might recover damages for their personal pain and suffering caused by the death of their loved one.
Not all relatives can recover for pain and suffering. A surviving spouse and a child under the age of 25 are generally eligible for these damages.
However, an adult child can recover pain and suffering damages if there is no surviving spouse, except in medical malpractice claims. The surviving parents of the victim can recover these damages if there is no surviving spouse or minor children, unless medical malpractice is the basis for the wrongful death claim.
Loss of companionship and protection
Certain surviving relatives can also recover damages for loss of guidance, instruction, cooperation, and support. A surviving spouse and a minor child are eligible for loss of companionship and protection damages. An adult child might recover these damages, but only if there is no surviving spouse.
Loss of support and services
Each surviving family member might recover lost past and future contributions of the deceased. Contributions include money, property, and physical labor. For example, a surviving spouse might recover the value of housekeeping services that the deceased spouse contributed and would have continued to contribute if not for their unexpected death.
Medical bills and funeral expenses
Any family member who pays for the victim’s medical and funeral expenses might recover those expenses as damages. If the decedent’s estate paid the costs, the estate can recover the loss in damages.
Damages That Can Be Claimed by the Estate
The deceased’s estate might also recover the following damages:
The estate might recover future lost earnings of the victim. Future lost earnings include, for example, pension benefits that the deceased likely would have earned.
Lost accumulation of value of the estate
The estate also may be able to recover the value of investments or income that the estate would have accumulated if the victim had not died.
What Must Be Proven to Win a Wrongful Death Case in Florida?
In a claim for wrongful death, Florida law requires the plaintiff to prove the following elements:
- The defendant’s tortious conduct: The defendant’s intentional, negligent, or reckless actions amount to a claim for damages under personal injury or contract law.
- The victim’s right to sue the defendant: The victim would have been able to bring a personal injury claim against the defendant for damages if the victim had survived.
- Identification of the representative and family members: A personal representative of the victim’s estate and the surviving family members have been identified.
- Causation and damages: The defendant’s conduct caused personal or financial injuries to the surviving family members or the victim’s estate.
Speak With an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk
If your family member has died because of someone’s carelessness, you may feel confused and overwhelmed, and understandably so.
At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, our compassionate attorneys are ready to discuss your options for moving forward with a wrongful death suit.
Losing your loved one is immeasurable in dollar amounts. However, we can seek justice for you, your family, and your loved one by holding the responsible party accountable for their actions.
When you are ready to speak with us, schedule your free case consultation online or call our office at 1-800-753-5203.