Losing a loved one is always difficult, but is often especially devastating in cases where a person passes away in an accident that could have been avoided if someone else had not been careless or reckless. While money is often the last thing on a grieving family’s mind in these cases, the reality is that these kinds of accidents typically leave the relatives of accident victims struggling with mounting medical debt and other costly expenses, while also mourning the loss of a loved one.
Florida’s wrongful death statute ensures that individuals who find themselves in these situations can hold the at-fault person or entity who negligently or wrongfully caused their relative’s death accountable for their actions. There are, however, a number of strict rules with which wrongful death plaintiffs must comply, so if you have questions about filing this type of claim, it is critical to contact an experienced lawyer who can walk you through the filing process.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death?
According to state law, a person’s death is wrongful when it is the result of someone else’s:
- Wrongful act; or
- Violation of contract or warranty.
Essentially, the relatives of a deceased person who passed away in an accident could have standing to file a wrongful death claim if the victim would have had a personal injury claim against the at-fault party if he or she had survived.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
In Florida, wrongful death suits can only be filed by the personal representative named in the decedent’s estate plan. If, however, a decedent passes away without having a will or trust in place, a court will step in and appoint a representative on the victim’s behalf. This individual will then be responsible for filing a wrongful death claim on behalf of:
- The decedent’s spouse, children, and parents; or
- Any blood relative or adopted sibling who was at least partially financially dependent on the deceased.
There are a few exceptions to this general rule. If, for instance, a hospital or doctor’s negligence was responsible for a person’s death, only a surviving spouse or minor child will be permitted to collect wrongful death damages following the filing of a successful claim.
What Types of Damages are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Case?
Plaintiffs who successfully file wrongful death claims are entitled to a wide range of damages, including compensation for:
- Medical and funeral expenses;
- The loss of the decedent’s earnings;
- The value of lost support and services, which requires an analysis of each survivor’s relationship to the deceased;
- The loss of parental companionship, instruction, and guidance experienced by the deceased’s children;
- The loss of the deceased’s companionship and protection experienced by the surviving spouse; and
- Mental pain and suffering.
Wrongful death damages are only available to plaintiffs who file a claim within two years of the decedent’s untimely death. There are, however, a few scenarios in which this deadline could be extended. If a person passed away as a result of medical malpractice, for instance, the two year statute of limitations won’t start until the cause of the decedent’s death is discovered.
Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyers
Please call 813-506-5651 to schedule a free consultation with one of the experienced Brandon wrongful death lawyers at Palmer | Lopez