The death of a loved one is a heartbreaking tragedy that is often overwhelming, emotional, and difficult.
If your loved one dies as a result of illness or natural causes, there’s not much you can do besides grieve and figure out how you can continue to live your life. However, if your loved one dies because of someone else’s negligence, then you might be able to seek justice and damages for your loved one’s death by filing a wrongful death suit.
Let’s first look at what wrongful death is, and then explore what damages can be sought and what you need in order to prove your claim.
What Is “Wrongful Death” in Florida?
The Florida statutes discuss negligence in Chapter 768 and, more specifically, wrongful death in 768.16-768.26.
“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.”
For example, if a loved one is injured in car accident due to someone’s negligence, they would most likely be able to sue the driver of the other car for damages. The same concept applies to wrongful death. If your loved one succumbs to their injuries in the previously mentioned example, then the driver of the other car can still be sued for damages. Only this time, their personal representative would have to bring the lawsuit instead, on behalf of living family members.
Who Can Receive Wrongful Death Damages?
Wrongful death suits in Florida must be filed within two years of the date of death, and our laws explicitly state that survivors can receive damages from a wrongful death claim
Each survivor may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to her or his death, with interest, and future loss of support and services from the date of death and reduced to present value.
A “survivor” is defined as “the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and, when partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services, any blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters. It includes the child born out of wedlock of a mother, but not the child born out of wedlock of the father unless the father has recognized a responsibility for the child’s support.”
Additionally, certain survivors can receive other damages:
The surviving spouse can recover loss of companionship and protection and mental pain and suffering.
Minor children (and all children if there isn’t a surviving spouse) can recover loss of parental companionship, instruction, and guidance, and mental pain and suffering.
Each parent of a deceased minor child can recover for mental pain and suffering.
Each parent of an adult child may recover for mental pain and suffering if there are no other survivors.
Medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent’s injury or death may be recovered by a survivor who has paid them.
Proving Wrongful Death in Our State
The plaintiff in a wrongful death case generally needs to prove three main elements:
Duty of care. The plaintiff needs to prove that the defendant had a duty of care to the deceased person. Continuing with our car accident example, the driver has a responsibility to follow the rules of the road and drive carefully when behind the wheel.
Breach of duty of care. First, the plaintiff has to show that a duty of care exists. Then, the plaintiff has to prove that the defendant breached that duty of care. In a car accident, if the other driver was speeding, ran a red light, or drove drunk, then they breached that duty of care.
Causation. Finally, the plaintiff has to prove that the breach of duty of care directly caused the wrongful death. Even if the defendant was speeding, the defendant isn’t responsible for the wrongful death if something else – such as a mechanical issue on the deceased’s car – ultimately caused the death. (However, if it was caused by a defective part, then the manufacturer of that part might be able to be held liable, for example.)
If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, you’re probably not even thinking about a lawsuit, but you should consider reaching out to an experienced Florida wrongful death attorney. A skilled lawyer will be able to help you determine if you have a viable wrongful death claim and help you seek justice for your loved one’s death.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The Injury Law Firm of South Florida, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.
Nowadays, many more trucks are entering our roadways, sharing the same space we use in our everyday life. Product demand has significantly increased, and so does the congestion of commercial trucking. Unfortunately, with the increased numbers of trucks entering service they bring with them an ever-increasing number of accidents and resulting injuries. A central question [..]
Imagine sleeping soundly in bed and then a loud crashing crane comes through your roof. It was a scene that happened this week in North Miami Beach, where a crane that was being used to repair a seawall slid off a barge and struck the roof of a condominium building. [gallery type="slideshow" link="file" size="large" [..]
Car accidents can happen anywhere. Especially where you least expect it. Parking lots, driveways, parking garages, and drive-thrus are well-known for accident scenes. Even your own living room. On Wednesday, August 21st, an accident involving two cars ended up crashing into a Miami Gardens home. One of the drivers was air lifted to a [..]
Dade and Broward county roads are about to become a bit more confusing and request drivers to be more attentive to the road and the scheduled construction plans on the 826 Palmetto Expressway and I-75 throughout August 2019, while making room for a new Express Lane on the 826 Palmetto Expressway. As auto accident attorneys [..]
July 4th tends to evoke backyard barbecues, poolside cocktails, and fireworks at dusk. We usually think of spending this holiday with family, and staying close to home. On the contrary, AAA pegs the fourth as one of their busiest days. Did you know the average distance traveled on July 4th is 617 miles? What’s more, [..]
When most of us think about Fourth of July safety, we think about fireworks. Although improper use of fireworks can cause serious injuries, there’s a less obvious risk: food poisoning. Most Fourth of July celebrations involve outdoor gatherings, with perishable food that’s often brought in by a number of people, some of whom may not [..]
Summer is upon us, and it’s peak swimming pool season in the sunshine state. Although swimming is a great way to cool off and get some exercise, it can also be dangerous. Statistics show three children die every day from swimming pool accidents, and many more people sustain serious injuries. In many cases, these tragic [..]
Memorial Day offers a time to celebrate loved ones lost. It also signals the beginning of another Florida summer which often means road trip! In either case, we all find a reason and a way to cut loose. Unfortunately, these celebrations also lead to an uptick in car accidents. The primary causes? More cars on [..]
Johnson & Johnson has been a trusted name in cosmetics and household products for decades. However, in recent years, they have come under fire for lawsuits that suggest their talcum powder products caused cancer. The company isn’t just paying with a blow to their reputation, either. Earlier this year, a woman in California won $29 [..]
Every summer, Floridians look forward to that much needed break that summer camp provides: the kids to get away from the daily grind of the school year, and you to get a little breathing room from them. Exactly how much of a break would it be, though, if you’re still holding your breath in anticipation [..]
Bars and advertisements for alcoholic products often encourage people to “drink responsibly,” but in some cases, the establishments or bartenders serving these drinks may be at least partially liable for a patron’s alcohol-related injury or death. Under certain circumstances, bars can—and should—be held responsible for over-serving patrons. Many states have “dram shop” laws (named [..]
Uber and Lyft have really made getting around town a lot easier. The apps are simple to use, the cars are relatively inexpensive, and getting a ride only takes a few minutes. However, as wonderful as Uber and Lyft are for convenience when you need a quick lift, it is important to remember that [..]
Summertime is quickly approaching, which means barbecues, family vacations, and a lot of days sitting by the pool. While you and your loved ones enjoy the hot summer weather and cool water, it is important to keep yourself safe. In this post we will be focusing on swimming pool injuries and how to prevent them. [..]
The death of a loved one is traumatic and devastating experience— regardless of the cause. However, the ordeal can be especially upsetting if the death could have been avoided had it not been for the negligent actions of another. In Florida, surviving family members and loved ones may be able to recover compensation for [..]
Florida’s summer is well underway, and the hot weather is a perfect excuse to get out on the water. With close to 900,000 registered vessels in the state, chances are that you or someone you know owns a boat and is planning to use it this season. Getting out on a lake or the ocean [..]
Right now, all Florida drivers are required to have car insurance coverage that pays personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, but that may come to an end in 2019 if some lawmakers get their way. Florida currently operates under a “no-fault” system when it comes to paying insurance claims after a car accident. If a [..]
When you become a parent, every little decision regarding your child’s safety and development can become a hot debate. We’re not going to tell you how to raise your child, but we do have one piece of advice backed up with statistics from the AAP and NHTSA. When you are driving with your child, [..]
It’s not every day that you get into an accident and need to file a personal injury protection (PIP) suit. This type of litigation may be confusing to many, especially since PIP laws are constantly being debated and changed in Florida. However, it is possible for you to get through this process and receive [..]
What are your chances of getting hit by someone driving a rental car in Florida? Every year, the state of Florida has 15 million active drivers on its many roads and highways. About 250,000 drivers end up in car crashes annually in Florida. Since almost 85 million visitors come to enjoy Florida every year, [..]
We know that our state’s driving woes are partially due to the heavy volume of out-of-state visitors. Often, vacationers opt out of long road trips and drive a rental car instead. Unfortunately, getting into an accident or altercation involving a rental car can be confusing – whether you’re the one driving it or not. [..]