Under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, claims for wrongful death are limited and brought forth by the personal representative of the decedent. The compensation recovered — if successful — benefits the survivors of the decedent and the estate for all damages allowable under law. Survivors who may be able to recover benefits under Florida law, are the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and any blood relatives and adoptive siblings when wholly or partially dependent on the decedent. Section 768.18 clarifies under what circumstances various categories of survivors may recover.
Wrongful death claims must generally be brought within two years of the date of the decedent’s death. They may be brought in the county in which the negligent act took place.
There are different kinds of losses that the law allows survivors to be compensated for:
- Support: This refers to contributions from the decedent to the survivors, including money.
- Services: This refers to tasks that the decedent performed while alive which may — after death — become a necessary expense to the survivors.
- Net Accumulations: This refers to the income that the decedent would have earned had he or she lived to the age of the normal life expectancy, less expenses that would be offset from that.
In addition to loss of support and services, the surviving spouse is also able to recover damages future financial support and services, lost companionship, lost protection, and pain and suffering.
Minor children — those under the age of 25 — may be able to seek damages for lost support and services from the date of injury to the date of death, with interest, lost future support and services. The minor children can also seek damages for lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance, as well as pain and suffering. If there is no surviving spouse, action may also be taken by an adult child aged 25 and older.
When parents lose a minor child as a result of a negligent act, they may be able to seek damages for the mental pain and suffering they have endured. Parents may also bring action if the decedent was an adult child and there are no other survivors.
Depending on the situation, other survivors — dependent blood relatives and adoptive siblings — may be able to seek damages for lost support and services from the date of injury to death, and future lost support and services. In order to be eligible, these survivors must prove that they were dependent on the decedent.
The “estate” of the decedent can also bring a separate claim to seek damages for medical expenses, funeral expenses, lost earnings, and lost net accumulations.
Any time a person passes away as a result of someone’s negligent actions, it can leave the decedent’s loved ones feeling lost and confused. Because of this, it is important for the family to have someone they can trust helping them take the next step forward. At Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather, Littky-Rubin & Whitman, our Florida wrongful death attorneys take the time to make sure you fully understand your rights. If you are a surviving family member of someone who has died due to a negligence-related accident, you may be able to recover damages associated with the loss. Call us today and we’ll work with you from start to finish to help you pick up the pieces and obtain compensation Florida law allow you for your losses.