When a person dies due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or wrongful act, the deceased’s surviving family members are often able to file what is known as a “wrongful death lawsuit” against whomever caused their loved one’s untimely death. But who is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit? What types of damages are available in wrongful death cases? The answers to these questions vary a bit from state to state, but the answers according to Florida law are outlined below.
Florida’s Wrongful Death Statutes
According to the Florida Wrongful Death Act (contained in the Florida Statutes § 768.16 et seq.) the losses resulting from a wrongful death are shifted from the survivors of the decedent to the wrongdoer. In this instance the term “survivors” refers to the decedent’s:
- Parents, and
- (When partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services) Any blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters.
Any of these surviving relatives can file a wrongful death action in Florida if the death of the decedent was caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person and the event would have entitled the decedent to recover damages under a personal injury claim had he or she been injured rather than killed.
Damages Available in Successful Wrongful Death Cases
Under Florida Statutes section 768.21, courts in Florida may award the following damages to the specified surviving relatives noted below:
- Loss of Support and Services. Each survivor may recover the value of both past and future loss of support and services that reasonably would have been provided to them by the decedent had he or she survived.
- Loss of Companionship and Protection. The deceased’s surviving spouse can recover damages for the loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection as well as compensation for the mental pain and suffering endured from the date of injury.
- Loss of Parental Companionship, Instruction, and Guidance. Surviving minor children of the deceased (and all of the deceased’s children if there is no surviving spouse) may recover damages for the parental companionship, instruction, and guidance that they lost, plus compensation for the mental pain and suffering endured from the date of injury.
- Parental Mental Pain and Suffering. If the deceased was a minor when they died then their parents can recover for mental pain and suffering endured from the date of injury. However, if the deceased was an adult then their parents can only recover for mental pain and suffering if there were not any other survivors.
- Medical and Funeral Expenses. Medical and funeral expenses incurred due to the decedent’s injury/death can be recovered by a survivor who paid them.
In Florida wrongful death lawsuits the deceased’s estate is also able to collect certain types of damages. For example, under some circumstances the estate can recover damages for lost earnings, lost prospective net accumulations of the estate, funeral costs, and medical bills.
Let Us Help You with Your Case
If you think you may be entitled to compensation under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, contact Piccin & Glynn, Lawyers at Law today. Our experienced personal injury lawyers would be happy to discuss your legal options with you during a free consultation. Contact our Ocala office at 352-558-8480.