Wrongful Death In Florida
Losing someone suddenly is one of the most painful and traumatic experience anyone can go through. If it happens to you, it may be in your best interests to seek compensation for the loss you have suffered, especially if it is due to someone else’s negligence. Florida law allows surviving family to seek damages for specific causes of action.
The specific statute is fairly explicit – if a death is caused by someone’s wrongful “act, negligence, or default,” the decedent’s surviving family members may bring suit in negligence to seek compensation for that death. However, there is a strict statute of limitations that requires that such an action be brought within two years (with rare exceptions). Any longer and memories begin to fade; the state generally does not want to hear a civil suit where the evidence becomes more subjective over time.
Only certain immediate family members may recover damages for a wrongful death under Florida law – most of the time, spouses, children, and parents. There are in some cases those who may be able to bring suit as “blood relatives [or adopted siblings only] either wholly or partially dependent on the decedent,” though this is unusual. The rationale for such a limitation is that while family members like siblings may acutely feel a loss, they do not generally depend on the person for monetary or otherwise more tangible support.
The Nature of Damages
If you do file a wrongful death suit after losing a loved one, it is important to understand the nature of the damages that you might possibly collect. Some damages are only payable to the deceased person’s estate, such as lost wages and any medical bills that they paid (as opposed to medical bills paid by family members), but the types of damages that bereaved family members can recoup are more inchoate in nature in a wrongful death claim. Examples include the value of “lost support and services” from the deceased, loss of companionship and potential loss of consortium, if the deceased is a spouse.
Another type of wrongful death action is available, at least in theory, in Florida. A survival action is brought by the decedent’s estate, and can recover for the pain and suffering the decedent suffered before their passing. Essentially, a survival action seeks to recover what the decedent would recover had they lived. However, this type of action must be brought by the estate, without the family members being involved. The two types of suits are different, and should not be confused.
Contact An Experienced Attorney
The death of a loved one can be seriously traumatic, and if it happens to you, you may be placed in a difficult financial position in addition to needing time to grieve. Our Tampa wrongful death lawyers at the Rinaldo Law Group can help you determine how best to handle events as they happen, and provide the benefit of our experiences with these types of cases to help you get through yours. Call us today for a free consultation.