Q: What is a wrongful death claim?
A: A wrongful death claim is any claim emanating from a personal injury that was caused by negligence that ultimately caused the death of the person injured. In order to prove a claim for wrongful death, it must be proven by the greater weight of the evidence that the negligence at issue caused the individual’s death.
Q: Who can file a claim for wrongful death in Florida?
A: Claims for wrongful death in Florida are controlled by a specific Florida Statute called the Wrongful Death Act. The Wrongful Death Act specifically dictates who can file a claim for wrongful death and what damages can be recovered.
Generally, any claim for wrongful death is pursued by the Personal Representative of the decedent’s Estate. Only the Personal Representative has the authority to bring the claim. The Claimants who can seek damages include the surviving spouse and the children of the decedent. In some circumstances, the parents of the decedent can also bring a claim. In cases involving medical malpractice which lead to a wrongful death, only children under the age of 25 can make a claim for damages.
Q: What damages can be recovered in a wrongful death claim?
A: Damages that are recovered in a wrongful death action are similar but somewhat different than those in a generic personal injury claim. The “economic” damages that can be recovered include the medical bills incurred by the Estate in caring for the decedent and funeral bills. The claimants, including the surviving spouse or the children, can recover lost support which is essentially the money the decedent would have contributed to housing, clothing, food, and other expenses. The Estate can also make a claim for net accumulations which is the money the decedent would have saved and accumulated over their life had they not died as a result of the negligence.
“Non-economic” damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death action include loss of capacity to enjoy life, pain and suffering of the survivors, lost consortium, and other similar type damages.