Wrongful Death Lawyers
In general, the term wrongful death refers to when a person dies or is killed due to the negligence or misconduct of another. In other words, a person behaves in a negligent way, a person dies as a result of that negligence, then wrongful death laws come into place. Florida has very specific wrongful death statutes.
What is the Florida Wrongful Death Act? Click here to read the wrongful death statute act in it’s entirety. The Florida Wrongful Death Act lays out very specific types of recovery and sets parameters for what is allowed and what is not allowed. Here are some of the main points you should consider:
Wrongful Death Act
768.19 Right of action.–When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters, and the event would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued, the person or watercraft that would have been liable in damages if death had not ensued shall be liable for damages as specified in this act notwithstanding the death of the person injured, although death was caused under circumstances constituting a felony.
Funeral Expenses Because of the death:
this depends on who paid for the funeral expenses; either the estate or family may recover.
Support or Services:
Where a blood relative (child, grandchild, etc) or an adopted child was relying on the deceased for services or support, then they can recover for the value of the lost services or support. The support can range from partly dependent to wholly dependent, and thus recovery is fact specific to an individual case.
The estate may recover the lost assets if the deceased was employed at the time of his death. You can reasonably predict the amount of assets that the deceased would have earned, or gathered, during the remainder of his/her work-life expectancy. If there is a dispute here and there is a difficulty calculating the number, your wrongful death lawyer will talk to you about hiring an economist to help create a more specific monetary breakdown. There are different terms for these lost-money damages, such as “lost net accumulations” or “lost asset accumulations.”
The spouse may recover the value lost on economic and service support. For example, the living if the deceased was employed, or the deceased provided household services, the surviving spouse may recover the value of those losses.
Mental Pain and Suffering by Children under 25:
Where Wrongful Death causes “Mental Pain and Suffering” damages to the deceased’s children under the Wrongful Death Statute. Those damages are rewarded. However, damages are given only to those children under the age of 25. According to the wrongful death statute, where there is a wrongful death, the children may recover mental pain/suffering damages (often referred to as intangible damages). Courts look at the loss of parental guidance and companionship as well.
Mental Pain, Suffering, Loss of Companionship by Spouse:
“Mental Pain and Suffering” is not limited to the 25-and-under children. The living spouse may recover his/her own intangible damages for mental pain and suffering caused by the wrongful death. The living spouse also gets the companionship damages awarded as well.
Under the Wrongful Death Statute, Medical Bills are also rewarded.
This is merely a quick hitter on some of the more important points of Wrongful Death in Florida. Understand that with these parameters set out. There are very specific people who would be able to recover large sums of money in a wrongful death lawsuit. If you do not fall into a specific category, a wrongful death lawsuit may be the wrong type of recovery for you.
What are Punitive Damages? Punitive Damages are not really extra damages. The term is used to describe an extra award to the plaintiff when the wrongdoer acted in a malicious and egregious way. So let’s assume Defendant A acts in a really egregious and malicious way causing the death of Plaintiff A. A wrongful death action is commenced by the estate of Plaintiff A against Defendant A. Let’s assume Plaintiff A wins the wrongful death lawsuit and $1,000,000 is awarded.
Punitive damages could be enforced where there is a finding that the behavior was egregious and malicious. So in this case, let’s say Plaintiff A is awarded an extra $500,000 in punitive damages for the wrongful death. That extra $500,000 doesn’t equate to actual damages, it’s basically an award given because of the maliciousness of Defendant A’s behavior. Punitive damages are more of a way to punish the wrongdoer and to deter others from behaving similarly. In Florida punitive damages are capped, in a wrongful death lawsuit, at three times the amount of regular damages awarded (i.e. compensatory damages), or $500,000, whichever is greater, except where there are unusual circumstances.