Understanding Wrongful Death Claims in Florida
Losing a loved one unexpectedly is understandably a devastating event that catches you off guard and suddenly changes your life. And when this loss occurs because of the negligence or wrongful actions of someone else, it seems to make your loss even harder to accept. Sadly, a wrongful death can happen in a number of circumstances and the statistics are staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 170,000 people die from unintentional injuries every single year.
What is a “Wrongful Death” under Florida law?
One positive thing in what can seem like a world of negativity for surviving family members is that Florida lawmakers have put laws in place that allow for financial recovery in the form of a civil form of legal action. The Florida Wrongful Death Act allows specified immediate family members (“survivors”) to seek compensation when the wrongful actions, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty has caused the death of a loved one. The survivors who are entitled to seek compensation are the decedent’s spouse, parents, children, and in certain situations, other relatives who may have been dependent on the deceased person for support or services.
Examples of wrongful death may include those fatalities resulting from:
- Car accidents
- Nursing home and elder abuse
- Defective or mislabeled products
- Medical malpractice
- Workplace violations
- Premises liability accidents (usually property conditions leading to fatal slip and falls)
- Criminal acts
Surviving family members who have lost a loved one as the result of a criminal act should also understand that because a wrongful death claim is a civil form of action, it is separate from any pending criminal proceedings and the outcome of one suit has no effect on the outcome of another. It is therefore not uncommon for someone who has been acquitted of murder in criminal court to be sued by a surviving family member in civil court.
What Kind of Compensation can a Survivor Recover?
The benefits available to a survivor are dependent on the individual’s relationship to the deceased and the circumstances of the wrongful death. Compensation may be available for medical and funeral expenses, loss of support and companionship, mental and emotional pain and suffering, and lost wages, earnings, and benefits. In addition, the most serious wrongful death circumstances may even trigger punitive damages which are intended to punish the wrongdoer and to deter others from executing similar behavior in the future. These damages are less common and are usually only awarded for the most extreme wrongful conduct. The best way to find out about the compensation that you may be entitled to is to reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you feel up to it. And while you should take the time you need to grieve, it is also important to note that Florida law only gives surviving family members two years to begin pursuing a claim.
We Can Help During This Difficult Time.
As the experienced Miami personal injury attorneys at Payer & Associates, we offer compassionate guidance to the family members of individuals who have been taken too soon because of the negligent or wrongful actions of another person or entity. Don’t worry about costs during this already stressful time as those are covered by any financial recovery we help you obtain. Instead, focus on healing yourself and your family while we help you get the full compensation to which you are entitled. To learn more about how we can assist you, reach out for help today.