Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
When somebody passes away due to the willful, reckless or negligent actions of another, their survivors may be able to file what is called a “wrongful death” lawsuit against the responsible parties in an effort to obtain compensation for monetary damages, loss of companionship, pain and suffering, etc. Our personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know that these types of lawsuits allow survivors to seek compensation for the many ways in which they’ve been harmed due to the wrongful death of their loved one.
In the State of Florida, the rules that govern who can file what type of wrongful death claims are outlined in subsection 768.21 of the Florida State Statutes. Generally, there are two large categories of those who can file a wrongful death claim: first, the representative(s) of the “estate” of the deceased individual (which will be responsible for paying debts of the decedent, paying ‘estate taxes’ and passing on money to those with legitimate claims to the estate based on wills and other legal documents) and second, other claimants such as family members and other dependents.
The Estate of the Decedent
According to the statute, the decedent’s personal representative can recover:
- Loss of earnings of the deceased (from the date of injury to the date of death, if any);
- In many cases, the potential net accumulations of the “estate,” which might reasonably have been expected were it not for the wrongful death (reduced to present money value); and
- Medical or funeral expenses due to the injury or death that have become a charge against his or her estate or that were paid by or on behalf of the decedent.
- (It is important to note that all of the awards for the decedent’s estate are subject to the claims of creditors.)
“All potential beneficiaries” of compensation for a wrongful death, including the decedent’s estate (as noted above) must be identified in the complaint, and their relationship to the deceased individual must be described. Individual guidelines for how damages may be awarded are described below:
- Each survivor can recover the value of current and future “lost support and services” from the date of the decedent’s injury to his or her death, with interest and reduced to present value;
- In evaluating loss of support and services, the survivor’s relationship to the decedent, the amount of the decedent’s probable net income available for distribution to the particular survivor, and the replacement value of the decedent’s services to the survivor must all be considered.
- The surviving spouse may also recover for loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury/death;
- Minor children of the deceased person, and all children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse, can also recover damages for lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury/death;
- Each parent of a deceased minor child may also recover for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury/death. Each parent of an adult child may also recover for mental pain and suffering, but only if there are no other survivors and if the claims do not involve medical negligence; and, finally,
- Medical and/or funeral expenses owed to the decedent’s injury and/or death may be recovered by the survivor who has paid them.
Determining whether or not you have a right to file a wrongful death claim following the death of a loved one can be a complicated, stressful endeavor. Our personal injury lawyers are here to help. To schedule a free consultation at no cost or obligation, please contact us by calling 561-266-9191 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to assisting you.