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.
Here’s Why So Many Florida Kids Get Hurt in Bounce Houses
Kids love bounce houses. If they see one at a party, they go running. If the thought of this makes you want to start nervously biting your nails, don’t feel like a helicopter parent. Why? Because the reality is that bounce houses may be more dangerous than we think. Quick Stats about Bounce House Injuries [..]
Ways That a Florida Funeral Home Can Act Negligently
Losing a loved one is one of the most painful life experiences that we as humans endure. The bereaved often rely on the support of physicians, clergy members, and funeral home staff to make the process of losing a loved one easier. The majority of funeral homes operate responsibly, treating the deceased with dignity and [..]
Avoid Florida Car Crashes and Stay Safe with These Top Safety Features
Voice assist. Self-parking cars. Forward collision warnings. There are many possible safety features you can get for cars today, but not all of them are created equal. Some are incredibly useful and drastically reduce your chances of getting into an accident (or increase your chances of survival if you are in one), while others fall [..]
What You Need to Know about Florida Electrocution Injuries
If you are hurt by an electrical injury in Florida, you need to know why they happen and how negligence is to blame for many common injuries. In this post, we’re going to detail the most common injuries due to electrocution in Florida and how you can get help if negligence is involved. How Electrical [..]
A Florida Driver Hits You on Your Bike – What Do You Do Next?
Have you gotten injured in a bicycle accident caused by a driver? In this post, we’ll describe the do’s and don’ts after you experience this type of injury. After a Bicycle Accident – Do’s Follow these suggestions to protect your rights after a bicycle accident that involves a vehicle. File a Police Report Even if [..]
Hurt on Vacation in Florida? What to Do Next to Protect Yourself
Most seasoned travelers have at least one crazy story of a mishap or injury that occurred while traveling. Unfortunately, vacation injuries and illnesses are relatively common, and they are particularly difficult to deal with in an unfamiliar place. If you are injured on vacation, you may be forced to cancel the rest of your vacation, [..]
What Injured Passengers Should Do after a Florida Car Crash
If you are injured as a passenger in a Florida car crash, you need to understand how the law applies in our state so that you know how to proceed with a claim. We’ll explain what you need to do and how a personal injury attorney may be able to help. Passenger Injury Claims in [..]
Swimming Pool Injuries: The Many Ways Floridians Can Be Hurt
As the weather heats up, time in the pool becomes a necessity for many people. Nothing feels better than cooling off in a pool, whether you’re at your local swimming club or at a friend’s home. Unfortunately, swimming pools come with big risks, and Floridians should keep the potential for injury in mind before taking [..]
Injuries at Florida Summer Camps – How to Protect Your Kids and Family
Summer camp is a great way for children to enjoy time off from school and enjoy the outdoors. However, injuries do occur at summer camps and because of that you have to be careful about where you choose to go and protect yourself as much as possible. How? In this post, we’ll outline common injuries [..]
Well-Known Sports Fan Injuries – and How Floridians Can Fight Back
Last year, a young fan was seriously injured when struck by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium. What happened? A 2-year-old girl was sitting on her grandfather’s lap while attending a game. She was struck in the eye by a 105-mile-per-hour fastball, which spun off the bat of Todd Frazier. The little girl spent more [..]
When Might a Bar Be Liable for Over-serving Alcohol?
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 [..]
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 [..]
What Happens If My Child Is Injured at Summer Camp?
School is out, but that doesn’t mean your child has to be stuck at home for the summer with no structure and nothing to do. Summer camps are a great way to keep your child active, supervised, and having fun – while also allowing them to branch out. However, summer camps come with a lot [..]
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. [..]
Hoverboards were called the hottest holiday gift last year – and just not because they were so popular. These motorized platforms, often compared to a portable Segway or balancing scooter, gained rapid attention on social media for their popularity with celebrities and futuristic capabilities. However, the amount of injuries and disasters caused by [..]
Pizza Companies Should Take Responsibility for Delivery Driver Tragedies
Image:http://pixabay.com/en/pizza-service-order-pizza-pizza-43368/ It’s a Dangerous World for Pizza Delivery Drivers Pizza can be dangerous. No, we’re not talking about the fat content or the artery-clogging cholesterol. We’re talking about the surprising number of accidents and injuries surrounding pizza delivery. In fact, according to PizzaMarketplace.com, in 2003, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked pizza [..]
Image: http://pixabay.com/en/dog-man-attacking-canine-training-78117/ When Pets Attack, They Can Cause Serious or Even Fatal Injuries Most people like dogs. How can you resist those adoring eyes, the wagging tail, and the warm, fuzzy head that seems to appear in your lap just when you’re feeling your lowest? So many Americans like dogs, in fact, that [..]
Florida is known for its beautiful waterways, which are excellent for boating. Unfortunately, boating accidents are common and happen for many different reasons. Below, we’re going to cover the most common reasons for boating accidents and tell you how boating negligence cases work if you are injured. Why Florida Boating Accidents Happen Here are the [..]
Can You Sue in Florida after a Tire Blowout Injury?
The recent death of a Tampa couple is an example of what might have been a potential product liability lawsuit had they lived. On Thanksgiving Day, Kevin and Michelle Livingston were traveling home from a visit to south Florida. Reports indicate that their sport utility vehicle drove into the waters of a canal along [..]
Types of Negligent Behavior Florida Pharmacists Can Engage In
When you receive prescription medication, you should be able to trust that it is correct and medically beneficial to you. A pharmacist has the responsibility to make sure your prescription is correct. If negligence occurs, you could have serious or life-threatening injuries. If you believe you may have been harmed by a pharmacist’s negligence in [..]
The Injury Law Firm of South Florida handles cases throughout Florida from their Fort Lauderdale office. Here is a list of some of the counties and cities we serve:
Breeze Park, Jensen Beach, Jupiter, Sewall’s, Stuart Point Ocean.
St. Lucie County
Fort Pierce, Port St Lucie.
Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Estero, East Dunbar, Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel.
Palm Beach County
Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, and throughout the greater Palm Beach area.
Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, Pompano Beach, Margate, Miramar, North Lauderdale, Plantation, Sunrise, Tamarac, Weston, and throughout the greater Broward area.
Aventura, Coral Gables, Hialeah, Kendall, Miami, Miami Beach, North Miami, South Miami, Beach, Sunny Isles, and throughout the greater Miami-Dade area.