Damages in Florida Wrongful Death Cases
Losing a loved one undoubtedly always feel “wrongful.” In the eyes of the law, though, “wrongful death” refers to a very specific set of circumstances that warrant legal action. Families may file a wrongful death claim when one of their own dies as the result of another party’s recklessness, negligence, or intentional misconduct.
While taking action against the liable party won’t bring back the deceased, it could at least relieve the financial burden left in the wake of the loss. In the state of Florida, a successful wrongful death claim can yield compensation for the following damages:
- Loss of support and services;
- Loss of guidance, protection, and companionship;
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Mental pain and suffering;
- Loss of parental instruction;
- Lost income and benefits; and
- Loss of any anticipated inheritances.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the death, the family may also be entitled to a punitive award. Punitive damages are generally warranted when the liable party’s conduct constituted intentional misconduct or gross negligence.
What Kinds of Damages Can a Successful Survival Action Yield?
A wrongful death claim isn’t the only action a family can take following the loss of a loved one. Florida also recognizes survival action claims, which essentially reimburse the deceased’s estate for damages that he or she incurred while still alive. Examples include:
- Medical bills;
- Lost wages;
- Lost earning capacity; and
- Pain and suffering.
Naturally, survival actions are only warranted in cases where the deceased was cognizant of his or her final injury or illness. If the victim died immediately following the wrongful misconduct—like in a motor-vehicle collision upon impact—there would likely be no grounds for a survival action.
Who Can Bring the Actions Following a Wrongful Death?
In Florida, both wrongful death and survival action claims must be brought by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. If the deceased left a will, he or she should’ve named a representative in this document. If there is no will, the court will appoint someone to serve in the role.
Should either claim end up yielding a payout, those who may be entitled to some or all of it include:
- The deceased’s surviving spouse;
- The deceased’s surviving children;
- The deceased’s surviving parents; and/or
- Any blood relative or adoptive sibling who relied at least partially on the deceased for support or services.
How Long Does a Family Have to File a Wrongful Death Suit in Florida?
Considering all the stress that comes with an unexpected loss, families tend to put off taking action following a wrongful death. In Florida, however, there is a strict filing deadline for such suits.
The personal representative of the estate typically has two years from the date of death to commence the proceedings. As there are a few exceptions to this statute, though, it’s advisable to seek legal counsel as soon as possible.
Discuss Your Case with a Wrongful Death Attorney in Stuart
If your loved one’s death could have been prevented had another party acted with reasonable care, turn to the compassionate team at Donaldson & Weston. We have helped hundreds of families file personal injury and wrongful death claims. Call 772-266-5555 or fill out the Contact Form on our website to set up a free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer in Stuart.