A death in the family can create an emotional hardship for loved ones. Sometimes, it can also create serious financial challenges. When a person dies due to the negligence or misconduct of another person or company, it may be possible for specific surviving family members to recover economic and/or non-economic damages by filing a wrongful death claim.
In Florida, a wrongful death claim may be pursued when the person’s death was caused by “the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters.”
Here are the three top questions we regularly answer on the topic of wrongful death:
What types of damages can be recovered in a wrongful death claim?
The two types of damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death claim are economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are measurable, objectively verifiable, and real losses. These claims may cover any medical bills of the decedent, funeral costs, net accumulations, and support and services, which are awarded a value based on an expert’s analysis. Net accumulation is an estimation of how much the deceased would have “saved” or “accumulated” in the future if they had lived, according to the Florida Wrongful Death Act.
Non-economic damages are subjective, unquantifiable non-monetary losses. These claims may include pain and suffering, loss of support and services, and the loss of companionship. The plaintiff in these types of cases may bring in an economist as an expert witness to inform the jury of the worth of the decedent.
Who can sue for a wrongful death claim in Florida?
Florida’s Wrongful Death Act states that a lawsuit for economic damages must be brought by a personal representative of the decedent’s estate.
When it comes to non-economic damages only certain family members have the ability to make a claim under this law. Furthermore, when the case pertains to medical malpractice wrongful death claims, there is a very specific exception.
The parties who can claim non-economic damages in wrongful death claims (with the exception of medical malpractice) are:
- Legally married spouses
- Minor children under the age of 25
- Adult children when there is no surviving spouse
- Parents of a deceased minor child
- Parents of a deceased adult child, if the deceased does not have a spouse or children
The parties who can claim non-economic damages in medical malpractice wrongful death claims are:
- Legal spouse
- Minor children under 25
Florida’s Wrongful Death Act recently came under scrutiny last year in a case involving the tragic death of a man following a surgical procedure to repair an aneurysm and leaking heart valve. The man’s family was surprised to learn that they could not pursue a medical malpractice claim after their loved one’s death because he was not married and he did not have children under the age of 25.
What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in Florida?
The statute of limitations or deadline to file a lawsuit, for wrongful death in Florida is generally two years from the time of the incident that caused the injury or death. Due to this timeline, representatives of the decedent’s estate and surviving family members should contact an attorney promptly.
Our team of lawyers at Panter, Panter & Sampedro are experienced in wrongful death claims, including those that fall under medical malpractice. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, please contact us to schedule a free consultation to discuss your specific situation at (305) 662-6178.
The 2020 Florida Statutes: Negligence. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0768/0768.html
Florida Wrongful Death Laws. (n.d.). Retrieved from