Wrongful Death Cases Present Unique Challenges
Sometimes in life the unimaginable happens. A loved one, family member, or friend passes unexpectedly. Unfortunately, this happens often in Florida. When somebody is killed because of somebody else’s negligence, it is possible to pursue a wrongful death claim on behalf of the person who died.
The most straightforward type of wrongful death claim is a husband or wife who is killed because of the negligence of somebody else. This could happen because of a car accident, a slip and fall accident, a construction site injury accident, or anything else. Other forms of wrongful death cases could include on-the-job accidents, electrocutions, branches or trees falling on top of somebody, etc. All of these are very tragic in nature and can leave the widowed-spouse and the family of the deceased wondering where to turn.
Florida allows for certain people to file wrongful death claims on behalf of people who are killed because of someone else’s negligence. This means if your husband or wife was killed as a result of someone else’s actions, you can file a claim or a lawsuit against a person in order to receive compensation for the wrongful death.
Wrongful death claims are complex and can also require that the deceased party opens an estate. It is important to retain a wrongful-death attorney as soon as possible after a wrongful death in order to properly pursue the claim.
What is a Wrongful Death?
A wrongful-death can be defined as the negligent or reckless killing of somebody else. This means that somebody is killed because of somebody else’s actions. When this occurs the person who caused the death can be held liable under the laws of the State of Florida. Florida Statute 768.16 is the Florida Wrongful Death Statute. Florida’s legislator has a public policy to shift the losses resulting in a wrongful death from the survivors of the decedent to the wrongdoer.
Who Can Bring a Claim for a Central Florida Wrongful Death?
It is very important to understand what the definition of a survivor is under the Florida wrongful death statute. A survivor is the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, or, when partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or other services, any blood relative or adoptive brothers and sisters. This also includes children that are born out of wedlock of a mother, but not children born out of the wedlock of a father unless the father has recognized responsibility for child support. Survivors are permitted to bring a claim on behalf of the deceased for the wrongful death.
Some Wrongful Death Definitions
“Minor children” under the wrongful death statute carries a different definition than one would think. A minor child under the wrongful death statute means a child under the age of 25 years.
“Support” means that somebody who passed contributed in kind as well as monetarily to a survivor.
“Services” means the tasks, usually of a household nature, that was regularly performed by the decedent. Because the decedent cannot perform these tasks anymore, the tasks will be a necessary expense to the survivors of the decedent.
Finally net accumulation means the part of the decedent’s business or salary income including the pension available to the decedent, the decedent would have retained a savings as left as part of his or her estate if the decedent had lived a normal life expectancy.
What is the “Right of Action” for an Orlando Wrongful Death Case?
The Florida Statutes allow for a right of action when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person if the action results in the death of the other party. This means that if a loved one was killed because of the negligence of someone else, that they are able to pursue a claim for wrongful death damages just as they would be able to pursue a claim for personal injuries.
Accidents that are Subject to the Wrongful Death Act
Central Florida Trucking Accident
Orlando Trucking Accidents
Winter Park Trucking Accidents
Central Florida Car Accidents
Orlando Car Accidents
Winter Park Car Accidents
Central Florida boating and jetski accidents
Orlando boating and jetski accidents
Winter Park boating and jetski accidents
Any other accident where someone is killed because of the negligence of someone else
Parties to the Wrongful Death Action
After the wrongful death of a loved one, it will be necessary to open an estate with the probate court in the county where the decedent lived. Ultimately a personal representative will be appointed to administer the estate. The Florida wrongful death statute states that a wrongful death action shall be brought by the decedent’s personal representative, who will pursue the claim for the benefit of the survivors of the estate. The personal representative will have a fiduciary duty to claim all damages as specified in the wrongful death act which caused the injury resulting in death. If there is a death of the wrongdoer, a lawsuit or claim can be filed against the personal representative of the at-fault party.
What Damages can I Claim for a Wrongful Death Action?
Damages is the fancy legal term for “compensation” or what the value of a personal injury or wrongful death case is. Wrongful death damages are dictated by the Florida Wrongful Death Statute. A personal representative can bring a claim for wrongful death damages on behalf of the deceased party and his or her estate. These damages include:
The value of loss support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to his or her death;
Future loss of support and services from the date of the death reduced to the present value;
A surviving spouse May recover for the loss of their decedent’s companionship and protection, and for mental pain and suffering from the date of the injury or death;
Minor children may recover for lost parent or companionship, instruction, and guidance, and for the mental pain and suffering from the date of death;
If there is no surviving spouse all of the children are able to recover for these damages;
Each parent of a deceased minor child may also recover for mental pain and suffering from the date of the death;
If there are no other survivors other than the parents of an adult child, the parents may recover for mental pain and suffering;
Medical and funeral expenses are recoverable by any survivor who has paid for them;
Additionally the decedent’s personal representative May recover the following on behalf of the decedent’s estate:
Loss of earnings of the deceased from the date of the injury to the date of death;
Loss of the prospective net accumulations of an estate which might reasonably have been expected but for the wrongful death;
Medical or funeral expenses.
What Should I do After my Husband or Wife was Killed in a Car Accident?
The first thing that you should do after your husband or wife has been killed in a car accident is to contact an experienced wrongful-death attorney to discuss your legal options. As I discussed above, we will most likely have to open an estate on behalf of the deceased spouse. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible can help protect your rights and maximize your wrongful death case.