Wrongful Death Claims

In circumstances where someone dies as a result of injuries that he or she suffered in a personal injury accident, his or her surviving family members have a right to bring a wrongful death claim against the party responsible for the death. Essentially, what this means is that they are suing for damages in the place of the deceased person who is unable to sue for himself. In addition, they are collecting damages for their own loss of support and services, grief and bereavement, and economic losses associated with the death of their loved one.

Florida Wrongful Death Act

Florida’s Wrongful Death Act allows those who have lost a family member as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing to pursue financial compensation for their loss. The act sets out the following with regards to filing a wrongful death claim in Florida:

  • Who is entitled to file a wrongful death claim
  • The parties involved in a wrongful death claim
  • The requirements for filing a wrongful death claim
  • The compensation that can be recovered through a wrongful death claim

The ultimate goal of Florida’s Wrongful Death Act is to shift the burden of the financial losses associated with the decedent’s death from his or her survivors to the individual or entity responsible for his or her death.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death Cases

As with personal injuries, wrongful deaths can be caused by a variety of different circumstances. Some of the most common causes of wrongful deaths in Florida are:

  • Motor vehicle accidents, including passenger cars, motorcycle, large trucks, and semi & tractor trailers
  • Defective drugs
  • Defective products
  • Exposure to toxins, such as asbestos, or benzene
  • Medical malpractice
  • Tainted food, such as tainted by E-coli or salmonella
  • Violence
  • Workplace or construction accidents
  • Murder

Wrongful Death FAQs

How Long does it take to resolve a wrongful death claim?
How long your wrongful death claim will take to resolve will largely be determined by the following two variables:

  • The kind and severity of your injuries; and
  • The amount of time needed to identify and quantify all of your damages.

Typically, however, a Florida wrongful death case takes between 1 and 2 years to be resolved by either settlement or judgment.

How Much Will a Wrongful Death Claim Cost Me?
The Probate Law Firm handles wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis. Consequently, you can employ the services of an experienced lawyer to examine the circumstances of your loved one’s death and aid you with filing a wrongful death claim, without the need to pay any money from your own pocket. Our Law firm will pay for all of the costs and fees necessary to pursue your claim up front and will be paid back from the funds we recover on your behalf.

What’s the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and a Survival Action?
A survival action must be brought by the representative of the decedent’s estate on behalf of the estate and its beneficiaries. A survival action compensates the estate of the deceased for damages the decedent suffered from the time of the accident until the moment he or she passed away. This includes all of the decedent’s medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other losses incurred between the time of the injury and the deceased’s death.

On the other hand, a wrongful death claim can be brought by a surviving family member of the deceased, such as a spouse, child or parent, to seek compensation for “pecuniary damages” they suffer as a result of the decedent’s death, such as loss of companionship and protection, mental pain and anguish, etc.

What Must Be Proven in A Wrongful Death Case?
To succeed in a wrongful death case in Florida, the heirs of the deceased must prove two things:

  • The death was caused by the negligence or wrongful conduct of the decedent
  • The surviving heirs suffered from the loss of the deceased

Who Can File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Under Florida law, only specific people can bring a wrongful death lawsuit, including:

  • The deceased’s surviving spouse, children, and parents
  • Other blood relatives and adoptive brothers or sisters who were financially dependent upon the deceased prior to his or her death
  • The personal representative of the deceased’s estate

Wrongful Death Damages
Under a wrongful death claim, the decedent’s surviving family members and dependents may seek the following “pecuniary damages”:

  • Medical and funeral cost paid for by the survivors
  • Compensation for mental pain and anguish
  • Loss of support and services
  • Loss of companionship and protection
  • Loss of parental companionship, instruction, and guidance

In addition, the decedent’s personal representative may recover the following damages on behalf of the decedent estate:

  • The decedent’s final medical and funeral expenses
  • The decedent’s lost earnings
  • Loss of net accumulations

What is the Difference Between a Personal Injury Claim and a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury claim in the fact that it aims to hold the person or persons who caused the decedent’s death financially accountable for their actions. However, instead of the claim or lawsuit being filed by the decedent who, for obvious reasons, cannot file a claim themselves, the claim is filed by either the personal representative of the decedent’s estate and/or a surviving family member on the decedent’s behalf.

How Long Do I Have to Bring A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
You have up to two years from the date of the death to file a wrongful death claim. If you fail to file a claim within this limited amount of time, you may be prohibited from ever being compensated for your loved one’s wrongful death. This is why it is extremely important to consult with a Florida wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after a wrongful death occurs.

How are the Damages Determined in a Wrongful Death Case?
When determining what amount would be fair compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit, there are several factors that must be presented to the judge or jury making the determination. These factors include the deceased person’s current income, likely future earnings, and fringe benefits, such as health insurance, that were provided through the deceased’s employment.

In addition, non-economic damages also may be considered. This category of damages awards the deceased person’s surviving family members with financial compensation for factors such as loss of companionship and mental pain and anguish, which are much more difficult to quantify than lost wages.

Consult with an Experienced Florida Wrongful Death Lawyer

While it is true that money cannot replace your loved one, it can help you during the recovery process. Sometimes a wrongful death lawsuit provides the surviving family a sense of closure and comfort amidst the pain. The advice of an experienced Florida wrongful death lawyer can help you avoid mistakes when filing a wrongful death claim, call us today to arrange an initial consultation.