In many states, Florida included, beneficiaries are allowed to file a lawsuit in order to recover in cases of the wrongful death of a loved one.
The laws surrounding cases of wrongful death are crucial in helping those who have lost someone important to them through the negligence of someone else.
They are what allow survivors to obtain the compensation they deserve.
Here’s what you need to know about Florida’s law surrounding wrongful death and the damages that can be awarded.
Elements of a Florida Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death claims are civil lawsuits. They’re often brought forward by a family member identifying some person or entity as the accountable party for the death of their loved one. These lawsuits claim negligence as the driving factor behind the wrongful death.
In Florida, the law states that when a person dies due to a wrongful act, breach of warranty or contract, or negligence, then the estate or relatives of the deceased can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. The elements necessary under Florida statutes to bring a wrongful death case are:
- Conduct that amounts to negligence, breach of warranty or contract, default, or a wrongful act
- The action must have caused the death of the person in question
- The conduct entitles the person injured to take action to recover damages if they had not been killed
In a wrongful death claim, that last element basically means that the person who died would have had a cause of action they could have brought against the responsible party if they had not been killed as a result of the event.
Examples of Wrongful Death Cases in Florida
There are many different situations from which a wrongful death suit can arise. Some of the most common causes of wrongful deaths include mislabeled and defective products, intentional criminal acts, auto accidents, medical malpractice, and workplace hazards. Learn more about each below.
Mislabeled or Defective Products
If machinery malfunctions and causes injury that leads to death, then that can be a good foundation to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Manufacturers face wrongful death suits each year for improper labeling or function.
Intentional Criminal Acts
This type of wrongful death suit is straightforward. If someone commits a crime that leads to the death of another, then they may be held responsible for that person’s death. Often in these cases, civil suits run parallel to or are filed behind criminal proceedings.
If a car accident takes place and the other party dies as the result of the negligence of another, then that can constitute wrongful death. Sometimes criminal charges are filed for the same incident, but not always.
If a physician prescribes a medication that is harmful or doesn’t identify an illness and the patient dies as a result, then there may be evidence enough to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against a provider.
Unsafe workplaces that lead to injuries and even death can be the grounds to bring a wrongful death suit against an employer.
Florida Law Limits Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit
A personal representative of the estate or an attorney can file a wrongful death suit for the remaining family members. The most common family members involved in wrongful death claims include these deceased’s:
- Children under age 25
If other relatives previously depended on the financial support of the person who died, then they may be eligible to be a part of the case as well, but only after primary beneficiaries have filed a claim.
Damages Awarded in Florida Wrongful Death Suits
If you are eligible to file a wrongful death suit in Florida, then you can receive compensation such as:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Other earnings and/or benefits
If the case centers around the loss of a child, then financial damages can be given for emotional and mental suffering. If the spouse of a decedent brings the lawsuit, then they can be awarded damages for loss of companionship and protection.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2020 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2017, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019.