What is Wrongful Death?

March 18, 2021

Wrongful Death – If you lost a loved one because of someone’s negligence, we will get you justice!

Wrongful death is a legal claim brought in a civil lawsuit against an individual or entity (such as a store, workplace, business or restaurant) that alleges their negligence or wrongful conduct caused the death of another person.

What Are Some Examples of Wrongful Death Cases in Florida?

A wrongful death claim can arise from a number of accidents and dangerous situations. Here are some common examples:

  • Auto Collisions
  • Aviation Crashes
  • Boating Accidents
  • Bicycle Mishaps
  • DUI/Drunk Driving
  • Elder Abuse
  • Medical Mistakes
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Nursing Home Patient Abuse/Neglect
  • Pedestrian Accidents
  • Product Malfunctions
  • Premises Liability
  • Tractor-Trailer (Semi) Crashes
  • Truck Crashes
  • Workplace Accidents

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Florida?

It’s important to understand exactly who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida.

Florida law provides that when an individual’s death “is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract” of another person or some other entity, the estate of the deceased person may bring a civil lawsuit. Thus, the personal representative or executor of the deceased’s estate is required to file the wrongful death action, but this action is filed “for the benefit of” the deceased person’s estate and his or her surviving family members.

Specifically, the “family members” or “survivors” who are entitled to recover damages in a Florida wrongful death case include the following:

  • The deceased’s spouse, children, and his or her parents; and
  • Any blood relative or adoptive sibling who is partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services.
  • Also included are children born out of wedlock of a mother, but not children born out of wedlock of the father unless he taken responsibility of supporting the child.

What Are the Damages in Florida Wrongful Death Cases?

Florida Statute § 768.21(1) provides that each surviving family member may recover “the value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to her or his death, with interest, and future loss of support and services from the date of death and reduced to present value.” Florida law also says that in evaluating loss of support and services, the following are considered:

  • The survivor’s relationship to the decedent;
  • The amount of the decedent’s probable net income available for distribution to the particular survivor; and
  • The replacement value of the decedent’s services to the survivor.

When computing the duration of future losses, the joint life expectancies of the survivor and the decedent (and the period of minority for healthy minor children) may be considered.

The specific types of damages that the surviving family members may receive in a wrongful death case in Florida include:

  • The value of support and services the deceased provided to the surviving family member;
  • The loss of companionship, guidance, and protection provided by the deceased;
  • Any mental and emotional pain and suffering due to the loss of a child from the date of injury; and
  • Medical or funeral expenses any surviving family member has paid for the deceased.

In addition, the estate may recover other damages that include:

  • Loss of earnings of the deceased from the date of injury to the date of death, less lost support of survivors excluding contributions in kind (with interest);
  • Loss of the prospective net accumulations of an estate, which might reasonably have been expected but for the wrongful death, reduced to present money value; and
  • Medical and funeral expenses that were paid directly by the estate.

Note that a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida must be filed within two years of the date of death in most cases. However, this deadline may be “tolled” or the clock can be stopped or “paused” in a few very rare circumstances. If you fail to bring a wrongful death lawsuit within this two-year statute of limitations, you may forfeit your right to seek damages in court.

Takeaway

To be successful in a wrongful death lawsuit, you need an experienced attorney who can show the jury that the negligence or recklessness of the defendant directly caused the death of your loved one. Because this is a very stressful and complicated process, you need to hire an experienced wrongful death attorney.

Please contact Florin Gray Bouzas Owens. Our legal team is dedicated to the pursuit of justice for the people we represent.

We have more than 100 years of combined experience successfully representing loved ones and family members in wrongful death accidents.

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