Wrongful Death Lawsuits: A Painful Side of Personal Injury
August 25, 2020
Although no amount of money can bring back a loved one, Florida allows for a special kind of lawsuit when a defendant’s negligence, intentional actions, or breach of contract results in a fatality. A wrongful death lawsuit is brought before a court directly by a close family member or beneficiary of the decedent on behalf of the deceased person’s estate. However, the statute of limitations in Florida is two years from the date of the death, which is shorter than most personal injury claims. The rationale behind the state’s Wrongful Death Act is to shift the financial losses from the surviving family members and beneficiaries to the person or entity responsible by holding them liable for their actions. As a civil claim, a wrongful death is expressed in terms of a monetary restitution for damages and other named losses.
Rules for Awarding Damages in a Wrongful Death Suit
In Florida, only the personal representative of the estate of the deceased victim is authorized to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party by seeking damages for the survivors and beneficiaries of the estate that may include:
- medical expenses for the deceased as well as funeral expenses paid by a surviving family member or the decedent’s estate
- compensation for lost wages, benefits and other earnings including the value of future earnings the deceased could have been expected to make
- compensation for the deceased’s pain and suffering; or a parent’s mental pain and suffering due to the loss of a child
- loss of financial support, loss of services, loss of companionship, or loss of parental guidance
- the value of prospective earnings and net accumulations that the estate could have expected to collect if the person had lived
Wrongful death lawsuits are complex legal proceedings brought before a court and presented to a judge or jury. Since Florida operates as a Comparative Negligence state, a recovery can be awarded in a case where the deceased was partly at fault, but compensation is reduced by the court’s determination of the decedent’s percentage of fault. Based on the specific financial circumstances of the estate, the court may require in-depth documentation and presentation of complex economic evidence. If you believe someone else was responsible for the loss of your loved one, it is important to seek legal counsel in a timely manner to ensure a wrongful death case is properly documented and a wrongful death lawsuit is filed within the state’s statute of limitations.
Call Schackow & Mercadante at (352) 371-3000 today to speak privately with a personal injury attorney regarding the details of your case.