Recovering In A Wrongful Death Case
Wrongful death cases in Florida are always difficult and emotionally draining to go through, and it does not help that in most situations, losing a loved one can also lead to financial problems. Damages in wrongful death cases can be simple, or they can be extremely complex. A lot will depend on the number of survivors and the nature of your relationship to the deceased. Having an attorney who understands these cases can be a great help in going through the process.
When the death of a person is caused by the “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty” of another person, a right of action exists under Florida law, meaning that someone can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the person that allegedly caused the death. There is another type of wrongful death-related lawsuit referred to as a survival action, but those are brought when the decedent had an existing, unrelated cause of action pending before their death.
The damages that one usually thinks of in a wrongful death case are called economic damages – damages such as bills for medical treatment provided, funeral expenses, and lost wages. Economic damages are tangible – anything that can be calculated with receipts and paperwork will usually be qualified under this heading. It is important to keep in mind that generally, with rare exception, economic damages are only able to be recovered by the estate, as opposed to the decedent’s relatives. This is because had the person survived, they would be able to recover those damages themselves, and the estate acts on behalf of the decedent.
By comparison, non-economic damages are those which are less tangible, and require calculation and sometimes estimation in order to arrive at a value. Examples include loss of companionship, mental or emotional anguish, and loss of support or services. Florida has specific law which holds that only certain blood or adoptive family members may recover for a wrongful death – namely, spouses, parents (if the decedent is a minor), and minor children. Siblings, aunts and uncles, and other more distant family are not permitted to recover under current Florida law. Nor can adult children, which has been cause for more than a little debate.
It can be difficult to arrive at appropriate figures for non-economic damages, and sometimes, amounts will be the only issue that pushes a case to trial. Any defendant will want to minimize potential liability, even if they do wind up admitting fault. Sometimes, however, a court will even award punitive damages – damages designed specifically to punish a defendant, if their conduct has been deemed intentionally reckless or malicious. This is rare, but it does happen when a wrongful death could easily have been averted.
Contact A Wrongful Death Attorney Today
When you have lost a loved one, you want to be able to grieve and heal – not get bogged down in paperwork and claims. Having an attorney on your side who is experienced in these types of cases can help the process go smoother, and the Tampa wrongful death lawyers at the Rinaldo Law Group will work hard to help resolve your case with hard work and compassion. Contact our offices today at 813-831-9999 for a free consultation.