Recovering for a Wrongful Death of a Loved One in Florida
Bill Allen | April 5, 2022 | Wrongful Death
Florida laws permit family members to file a lawsuit against a negligent party who caused their loved one’s death. The lawsuit seeks to recover damages caused by the wrongful death. A wrongful death lawsuit can also provide some closure for grieving family members.
What Is a Wrongful Death Under Florida Law?
A monetary settlement can never compensate a family for losing a loved one. Unfortunately, the legal system does not have another way to compensate families for wrongful death.
Therefore, Florida’s wrongful death statute provides a cause of action for a civil lawsuit against the party who caused the death. Proving wrongful death allows the family members to recover compensation for the loss of a loved one.
Florida Statute §768.19 defines wrongful death as a person’s death caused by the negligence, wrongful act, breach of contract or warranty, or default of another person. The estate may bring an action to recover damages if the person would have had an action to recover damages had the death not occurred.
In other words, to win a wrongful death claim, you must prove:
- Your loved one died because of negligence, a wrongful act, or a breach of warranty or contract by the defendant;
- The defendant’s conduct was the direct and proximate cause of your loved one’s death; and
- Your family member could have sued the defendant for damages had they not died.
Wrongful death claims may arise from numerous types of personal injury cases. Some common examples of cases that give rise to a wrongful death action include, but are not limited to:
Thousands of people die in traffic accidents each year in Florida. Over 3,700 people died in traffic crashes in 2021 statewide. Distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving, and reckless driving are common causes of fatal car accidents.
Defective products are also responsible for thousands of deaths each year. Product liability claims include all types of defective products, such as children’s toys, medical devices, furniture, appliances, medications, and recreational equipment.
Wrongful death claims may arise from medical negligence and medical malpractice claims. These cases involve unintentional but avoidable mistakes that lead to a patient’s death. They also include intentional acts of malpractice that cause the death of a patient.
Other Types of Personal Injury Cases That Can Result in Wrongful Death Claims
Other common situations and accidents that might lead to wrongful death include, but are not limited to:
- Boating accidents
- Construction accidents
- Nursing home abuse
- Premises liability cases
- Workplace accidents
- Dog attacks
- Airplane accidents
If you are unsure whether you can recover for the wrongful death of a loved one, ask a personal injury lawyer. However, do not delay. The deadline for filing most wrongful death claims in Florida is two years from the date of death. That date may or may not be the same date your family member sustained the injury that led to their death.
What Compensation Can I Recover for a Wrongful Death Claim?
The damages recovered for a wrongful death depend on who files the claim. If the person survived for a period after the initial injury, the deceased’s estate could file a claim seeking damages. The purpose of a wrongful death claim by the estate is to recover compensation for damages between the date of injury and the date of death.
Compensation paid to the estate might include:
- Medical expenses and bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of income and benefits
- Mental anguish
The estate may also recover compensation for reasonable cremation, burial, and funeral expenses paid by the estate. However, in addition to the estate’s compensation, family members may also recover compensation for the wrongful death of a family member.
Surviving family members may be entitled to wrongful death damages, including:
- Out-of-pocket funeral expenses and medical bills paid by the family members
- Loss of financial support
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of household services
- Loss of protection, companionship, instruction, and guidance if the person was a parent or spouse
An important note to keep in mind is Florida’s comparative fault laws. If your family member was partially to blame for the cause of their death, any compensation recovered for a wrongful death claim might be reduced by their percentage of fault.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
Even though the surviving family members receive compensation from a wrongful death action, the decedent’s estate files the claim. Therefore, the estate’s personal representative may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate and/or the beneficiaries. The laws and procedures governing wrongful death actions can be complicated. A Gainesville wrongful death lawyer can answer many of your questions during a free consultation.
Contact Our Gainesville Personal Injury Law Firm in North Central Florida
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