Wrongful Death Defined
A wrongful death claim may be filed when someone’s negligence or otherwise reckless behavior results in another person’s death. This claim is distinct from criminal proceedings. In a criminal case, the person responsible for the loss of life gets punished for violating a law.
By contrast, a wrongful death suit is a civil action meant to financially compensate surviving family members for the loss of a loved one.
Wrongful death lawsuits are often associated with negligence and medical malpractice, but Florida includes any “wrongful act” that leads to a fatality in its statute. In addition to negligence, a wrongful act can include a breach of contract, illegal activity, and more.
Who Can File a Claim for Wrongful Death?
According to Florida Statute § 768.19, only a personal representative or party named in the deceased’s will can initiate a wrongful death claim. If this person has not been named, then the court will appoint someone.
The beneficiaries who can collect from a wrongful death lawsuit are limited to the following parties:
– Other parties who can show that they rely on the deceased person’s financial support
– Parents can receive damages in a wrongful death suit if no other beneficiaries have been identified.
Other Considerations in a Wrongful Death Claim
Before anyone can file a wrongful death claim, it must first be established that wrongful death occurred. In addition, an attorney may have to verify eligibility for being able to make a claim. For example, the matter can get complicated in situations like divorce, remarriage, stepchildren, adopted children, illegitimate children, and posthumous children.
Wrongful Death Benefits
The types of wrongful death benefits that can be sought depend mainly on who is making a claim. In general, any plaintiff can receive compensation for funeral expenses, medical expenses incurred from the incident, and lost wages that the deceased would have received to help pay for the claimant’s support.
If the person seeking wrongful death benefits was the spouse, benefits could include loss of companionship as well as reimbursement for financial contributions.
In the case of a child, there is a distinction here whether a child is a minor or not. For a wrongful death lawsuit, the threshold for being a minor is 25 years of age. If the death happens before the child reaches this age, the child can recover damages for financial support and the value of the parent’s services. Other benefits will be calculated for missing out on the parent’s guidance, mentorship, and the emotional component of pain and suffering.
The same benefits are available to adult children over 25. Still, the calculations will likely result in a different sum due to the assumption that most children over 25 won’t require the same level of financial support. However, each case is unique, so the dollar amount of benefits will depend on the individual’s situation.
For parents seeking benefits for the wrongful death of their child, the compensable damages include mental anguish and emotional distress.
Schedule a Free Consultation Today
Florida has a wrongful death statute of limitations of two years. Though it can be tough to think about litigation while grieving, we are here to help you through the process and hold the party responsible accountable. Contact Aigen Law today at 305-851-7195 to schedule a free consultation.