Losing a spouse, child, parent, or another close family member in a preventable accident or senseless act of violence is devastating. The first priority for surviving family members may not be to pursue a legal claim, however, it is important that family members discuss a possible case with an attorney to ensure they are able to preserve their right to recovery. Financial issues can arise quickly with the death of a family member and the loved ones may not only recover for their financial losses, but may also obtain compensation for their emotional losses, as well. A wrongful death action under Florida law can provide funds to make continuing with life a little easier and can also provide a sense of justice after the unexpected tragedy.
What Is Wrongful Death?
A claim for wrongful death is a legal action filed in civil court by certain surviving family members. These family members can seek compensation for their losses associated with the death if they can prove the death occurred due to the negligence or intentional act of another person or company.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
The following incidents are commonly the cause of a wrongful death and the resulting legal claim:
All of the above incidents can cause catastrophic injuries including brain trauma, spinal cord injuries, internal organ damage, internal hemorrhaging, and more that can lead to the death of the accident victim.
Compensation In A Wrongful Death Case
The compensation that is available to family members largely depends on the losses associated with the accident and the relationship between the parties bringing the claim and the deceased individual. Some losses can include the income that would have been contributed to the household if the wrongful death had not occurred, which will depend on the age and life expectancy of the deceased and their profession. In addition, recovery is available for expenses for medical services prior to the death and for costs of the funeral and burial. Certain individuals may also be entitled to certain benefits, including the following:
- Spouse — Loss of companionship and protection, as well as emotional pain and suffering;
- Minor child — Loss of parental guidance, instruction, and companionship, as well as emotional pain and suffering;
- Parents — Parents of a minor child who dies can recover for emotional pain and suffering, though if the child is an adult, the parents are only entitled to such recovery if there is no surviving spouse or children.
Finally, if the death was caused by highly offensive behavior–such as an assault or due to drunk driving–surviving family members may be entitled to punitive damages, which is not related to any one specific type of loss but instead meant to punish the defendant further for their actions.
Time Limits on Wrongful Death Actions
In accordance with Florida state law, qualifying family members have two years from the date of the death to file a wrongful death claim. If the death occurred days or weeks after the incident, the statute of limitations begins to run once the victim succumbs to their injuries.