Wrongful death occurs when someone’s negligent and/or careless behavior results in the death of a loved one. Many people do not know their legal rights when this tragic event occurs. Often times a family is unaware that they can file a wrongful death suit. A wrongful death suit punishes the wrongdoer for its terribly reckless action which resulted in the death of an individual as well as provides monetary benefits to the deceased’s remaining relatives.
Florida has its own wrongful death action that creates a right to sue for wrongful death for appropriate beneficiaries (people who can recover). Under Florida statute §768.19, a wrongful death occurs, “when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters, and the event would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued, the person or watercraft that would have been liable in damages if death had not ensued shall be liable for damages as specified in this act notwithstanding the death of the person injured, although death was caused under circumstances constituting a felony.” There are two main purposes to this statute, (1) to substitute the financial resources of the wrongdoer for the resources of the decedent; and (2) to prevent a tortfeasor from avoiding liability for his or her misconduct when such misconduct results in death. Variety Children’s Hosp. V. Perkins, 445 So. 2d 1010 (Fla. 1983). There are countless tragic events that could be deemed a wrongful death. Negligence is typically a very broad category for cases to fall under. Just a few of the most basic examples include:
- A drunk driver causing a car accident that results in the death of a loved one.
- A medical malpractice claim, like if a doctor failed to catch something or performed the wrong procedure that would be best for the medical issue at hand.
- A products liability claim (e.g. a manufacturer’s defect results in the death of the product user).
- Any workplace safety issue.
Florida’s wrongful death act allows recovery for a person’s spouse, their children, their parents or other loved ones. Even children who are born after the death of the person will constitute as a “survivor” for purposes of recovery. A wrongful death action must be filed in a two-year span after the incident that caused the death occurs. The estate of a party will also be able to recover if that is an issue in the action. The losses recoverable under this kind of suit include:
- Support and services from the date of the loved one’s injury until the time of their death.
- Future loss of support and services
- Funeral costs – things like burial, cremation pension issues
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- The loved one’s medical expenses
There is no amount of money that could make up for the death of a close family member but securing your future is a good way to start. In Florida, a spouse alone is entitled to recover for loss of support, love, companionship, and routine services of the deceased. The deceased’s children, who are under twenty-one, can recover for things like loss of guidance or loss of affection.Brining a Wrongful Death Claim
There are some basic qualifications that a person must meet to bring a wrongful death action, (1) there must have been an actual death; (2) there must be some kind of link between the death of the loved one and the negligent action; (3) there must be showing of the affect that the death has on the family members; and (4) there must be a showing, normally, of some kind of financial hardship. If all of these are established, then the case will proceed. If the case is found to be an instance of wrongful death, then a Judge will determine the amount a person’s future earnings, to be able to incorporate that into the damages amount the family is being awarded. Often this is done through use of a life expectancy table incongruence with the expected retirement age of the individual.
Andrew J. Pascale, Esq. has the requisite legal knowledge to address your claim after the loss of your loved one. The suddenness and shock of this action can be a heavy weight for anyone person to handle. But, when a loved one is lost due to the blatant negligence of another there is a way to offload that burden. An experienced attorney can be that extra help that you need to make it through this trying time. Please contact me for a consultation and get the compensation you deserve.