When a person dies or is killed due to the negligence or misconduct of another person or company, the surviving members of the family may have the option to bring a “wrongful death” claim in order to recover both economic and non-economic damages. For many families, this type of compensation is necessary to cover a variety of losses.
In order to file a wrongful death claim in Florida, the person’s death must have been caused by “the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters.” A personal representative of the deceased person’s estate must bring the claim for economic damages, and certain members of the remaining family survivors may pursue non-economic damages in a case. Click here to watch a brief video about who can file a wrongful death claim in Florida.
Wrongful Death Elements and Scenarios
Examples of situations that may render a wrongful death suit include medical malpractice cases, an automobile accident, an aircraft crash, an occupational hazard, either substance or condition that causes death, criminal behavior, or a death that occurs during a supervised activity.
For example, construction zones are dangerous places even when workers are adequately trained, machinery is properly maintained, and warning signs are in place. If someone is negligent at a construction site, the tragic result can be death. If a loved one has been killed in a construction accident, you may be entitled to compensation under a wrongful death claim.
Who Can Bring a Claim?
A personal representative of the decedent’s estate must be the one to bring the lawsuit for economic claims. These claims may cover any medical bills of the decedent, funeral costs, net accumulations, and support and services, which is awarded a value based on an expert’s analysis.
The money awarded for the net accumulations, which is the part of the decedent’s expected net salary or income that the decedent would have retained as savings and left part of his or her estate, loss of earnings from the date of injury to the date of death, medical bills, and funeral expenses will go into the estate and be distributed according to the individual’s will. Money awarded for pain and suffering; loss of support and services; and the loss of companionship will be distributed to individuals who qualify as statutory survivors. To determine the loss of support and services as well as net accumulations, including both present and future earnings, the plaintiff in the case may bring in an economist as an expert witness to inform the jury of the worth of the decedent.
There are certain family members who can bring a case for non-economic claims, such as loss of companionship or support and services as defined by the Florida statute. The decedent’s legal spouse, minor children under 25, adult children over 25 if there is no spouse, parents of the decedent if there is no spouse or child, or financially dependent family members of the decedent if no spouse or children may bring the claim. The exception is in medical malpractice cases, where only the legal spouse or minor children under 25 can bring the case.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims
The statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida is two years. Therefore, if you feel that you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, it’s very important that you consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney right away. Your attorney may be able to help surviving family and the estate of the deceased recover losses associated with the death of your loved one.
Wrongful Death Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://injury.findlaw.com/torts-and-personal-injuries/wrongful-death-overview.html
Florida Wrongful Death Laws. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://statelaws.findlaw.com/florida-law/florida-wrongful-death-laws.html
Miami Construction Accident Wrongful Death Lawyers. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://panterlaw.com/wrongful-death/construction-accident-wrongful-death/
Wrongful Death Lawyer & Attorney | Fort Lauderdale | Miami. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://panterlaw.com/wrongful-death/