When someone dies as the result of another party’s negligence, their family may sue for wrongful death in Florida. This can help them receive compensation to get their life back on track as much as possible.
Sadly, Florida’s wrongful death statute can cause complications that leave families unable to recover anything for the damages they’ve suffered.
However, there are ways that a wrongful death attorney in Florida can use a wrongful death lawsuit or claim to receive compensation. Here’s a quick guide to all things Wrongful Death in Florida:
What is Wrongful Death in Florida?
A wrongful death claim is when someone alleges that another party’s negligence or actions caused the death of an individual.
The purpose is to recover monetary compensation to the deceased’s surviving family members for their loss.
Specifically, Florida Statute § 768.19 states a wrongful death occurs when another person or entity caused the death by “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty.”
Although there are many different wrongful death case types, the claims are all compensation lawsuits brought to civil court. This makes it different from murder, manslaughter and homicide cases that go to criminal courts.
Who Can Sue or Claim for Wrongful Death in Florida?
In Florida, the law states that if the death is due to any of the following reasons, then the surviving members of the family can file a lawsuit:
- Wrongful act
- Default or Breach of Contract or Warranty
When making the claim, a personal representative should be present in court alongside a wrongful death attorney. The representative is likely named in the deceased’s estate plan; if not, the court will appoint someone.
The representative will file the official complaint on behalf of all the surviving members of the family or estate, for their suffering caused by the death – both financially and emotionally.
They must also list all those with interest in the wrongful death lawsuit, such as:
- The deceased’s spouse
- The deceased’s children
- The parents
Any other relatives who depended on the deceased for financial support may potentially be eligible too, but only after the prior listed have had a chance to file a claim.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death in Florida
Common examples of Wrongful Death claims include:
- Car accidents
- Bus accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Work-related deaths
- Deaths caused by defective products
- Slip and falls
- Animal attacks
How Long Do You Have to Sue for Wrongful Death in Florida?
Florida’s Statute of Limitations for most wrongful death claims allows for two years from the date of the person’s death to make a claim. If the claim has not been initiated before that deadline, then it is almost certainly too late.
There are circumstances where a wrongful death claim may be brought after the date, for example, if the death was the result of murder or manslaughter.
Either way, it is highly advised to contact a Florida wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. The earlier the better, so you can prepare a strong case that gives you and your family the best chance at receiving the money you need.
What Damages Can You Be Compensated for in Florida Wrongful Death Claims?
If successful, the defendant or their insurance company will be ordered by the court to pay the surviving family for the damages they’ve suffered.
The Wrongful Death in Florida law defines these damages in two categories: damages awards to the surviving family and damages awarded to the estate.
Damages Paid to Surviving Family Members
- Loss of financial support and services since the date of the initial injury or death
- Future loss of financial support and services
- Loss of companionship and protection
- Mental suffering
- Loss of parental companionship and guidance
- Medical Expenses
- Funeral Expenses
Damages Paid to the Deceased’s Estate
- Lost wages, benefits and other earnings from the date of the person’s initial injury to their death.
- The amount of money they may have been expected to receive as part of the estate, if the deceased had remained alive.
- Any medical or funeral expenses paid directly by the estate.
Cases Involving Children
In the heartbreaking scenario where there has been a loss of a child under the age of 25, financial help is given to the parents and surviving family members for their suffering.
Limits on Damage Recovery
Florida’s Wrongful Death law does place limits on recovery under some circumstances. For example, children of any age may receive compensation for various damages for lost parents.
But, if there is a surviving spouse, then children over the age of 25 may be limited to what they can be compensated for.
What Is The Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and a Criminal Homicide Claim?
To Help Families Recover
In Wrongful Death Claims, there is no conviction for jail or prison time, fines to the state, probation or other penalties.
Put simply, a wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury lawsuit. Obviously, the deceased cannot file the lawsuit, so the law steps in to help the surviving family receive compensation for their loss.
This is not about making the other party pay for their crimes, but instead about helping you and your family get financial coverage for emotional and financial suffering. From funeral costs to the loss of companionship, you deserve compensation and shouldn’t feel bad about filing for it with the help of a wrongful death attorney.
Secondly, a Wrongful Death in Florida claim doesn’t have the same demands for proving the defendant’s fault as a criminal case.
While a criminal case requires the defendant’s guilt must be established beyond a reasonable doubt, a Florida Wrongful Death case (in a civil lawsuit) only demands liability “by a preponderance of evidence.”
It is possible that someone faces both criminal charges and a wrongful death claim, but they are separate.
Have You Lost a Loved One? Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney in Florida Today
If you’ve suffered the loss of a family member, then you deserve to receive compensation for your suffering and financial losses.
As you can see Florida’s laws are complicated but provide a route for you to get the money you deserve. If you have any questions or would like to initiate a Wrongful Death claim, contact us today for a free consultation.
St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas have been providing exceptional legal assistance to Florida residents for Wrongful Death claims for decades. As partners at a U.S. News and World ReportsTier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., they give you the best chance of receiving the compensation you deserve.