What Constitutes Wrongful Death in Florida?

Losing a loved one inevitably feels “wrong.” In the eyes of the law, though, only certain scenarios warrant wrongful death claims.

If your family member passed in some kind of preventable accident that another party caused, there’s a good chance you have grounds for legal action. As long as you can prove the following three elements, you and/or other surviving relatives may be entitled to compensation:

1. Misconduct

In Florida, a death is considered wrongful if it was caused by another party’s “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract.” That means someone other than the deceased must have failed to act with reasonable care (or intentionally set out to cause harm). Some of the most common scenarios that lend to wrongful death actions include car accidents, medical malpractice, and assault and battery.

2. Causation

The liable party’s misconduct must have been directly responsible for the death that occurred. In other words, but for the wrongful act, the victim would still be alive.

Since proving causation can pose a challenge—especially if the deceased had any preexisting conditions or the circumstances surrounding the incident aren’t entirely clear—it’s wise to turn to a resourceful attorney from day one. A seasoned wrongful death lawyer will have the knowledge, skills, and experience to help you build a claim that includes sufficient evidence of causation. 

3. Damages

The primary purpose of every wrongful death suit is to compensate the deceased’s eligible beneficiaries for the damages they incurred as a result of their loss. As such, your family must have suffered actual damages in the wake of your loved one’s passing.

When a wrongful death claim proves successful, Florida allows for the recovery of some combination of the following damages, depending the circumstances:

  • Lost support and services;
  • Lost companionship and protection;
  • Emotional pain and suffering;
  • Lost instruction and guidance;
  • Medical bills stemming from the deceased’s final injury or illness;
  • Funeral and burial expenses;
  • Lost income and benefits; and
  • Loss of anticipated inheritances.

It’s worth nothing that some of these damages are awarded to actual individuals, while others are awarded to the deceased’s estate and then distributed according to his or her last will or the laws of intestate succession.

Who May File a Wrongful Death Suit in Florida?

In Florida, a wrongful death suit must be brought by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. If the case yields a payout, it will be distributed among the victim’s surviving parents, children, spouse, and/or any relatives who depended on him or her for support or services prior to passing.

Discuss Your Claim with a Wrongful Death Attorney in West Palm Beach

If you think your loved one’s death could’ve been prevented, contact Donaldson & Weston. We’ll conduct a thorough investigation into the accident to determine if your family has grounds for a claim.

Our tenacious team has recovered more than $100 million for clients in successful actions. Call 561-299-3999 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer in West Palm Beach.