Fatal Car Accidents and Florida’s Wrongful Death Laws

CarCrash

According to Insurance Institute of Highway Safety statistics, there were 2,933 fatal car accidents in Florida during 2016 resulting in the deaths of 3,174 people. The deaths of  loved ones always have grave impacts on many families, and cause indescribable grief. Plus, the void left by a family member’s passing created financial difficulties for many households struggling to make ends meet.

Florida law allows certain survivors to pursue the responsible party for compensation when negligence was a factor, but such wrongful death cases can be extremely complex. You should consult with an experienced Ocala wrongful death attorney about your situation, but some background information may be useful to gain a general understanding.

What is a wrongful death claim?

In a Florida car accident case, a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit that a person may file when someone is killed due to the wrongful or negligent acts of the driver that caused the crash. The legal theory behind this type of action is that the deceased would have a personal injury claim against the careless motorist for all losses that result from the accident injuries, had he or she survived the incident. In order to recover compensation for these losses, it is up to other individuals to step into the shoes of the victim. 

Who can file a wrongful death case under Florida law?

There may be many people devastated by a loved one’s passing, but state law limits the people who have standing to bring a wrongful death claim. By statute, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the deceased individual had a will, the executor would file a case; where there is no will, a Florida court will appoint a person to act on his or her behalf.

Regardless of the identity of the personal representative, that individual brings a wrongful death claim for the benefit of two entities:

  1. The estate of the person who died; and,
  2. The surviving family members of the decedent, including spouse, children, parents, siblings, and others.

What types of damages can I claim for compensation? 

Both of the entities described above may sue for monetary damages in a wrongful death case, but the concept behind the compensation is different.

  • The estate can recover damages based upon the losses suffered by the decedent, which he or she could have pursued if alive. They include costs related to medical treatment, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages, employment benefits, and loss of future earnings.
  • The theory behind damages for surviving family members is distinct because the compensation is based upon their own suffering from a loved one’s death. Family members with standing to sue may be able to recover losses for:
    • The value of support and service the decedent contributed;
    • The void left behind with respect to companionship, guidance, and protection;
    • Mental and emotional pain; and,
    • Any medical or funeral costs advanced by the family member for the benefit of the deceased person.

Contact a Florida Wrongful Death Attorney Today 

If you’ve lost a loved one in a car accident, please contact the Ocala offices of Piccin & Glynn, Attorneys at Law at (866) 225-6459. We can schedule a consultation to discuss your wrongful death claim and explain your legal options.

Resource:

iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/state-by-state-overview/2016

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