Losing a loved one is always exceptionally difficult. However, the pain and frustration associated with a loved one’s passing are magnified when their death was due to a preventable accident. In Florida, those who have lost a loved one in any kind of accident can pursue a claim for compensation against the responsible parties through a Florida wrongful death lawsuit.
Florida’s wrongful death statute is contained in Florida Statute section 768.16, and is known as the “Wrongful Death Act.” The concept behind the Wrongful Death Act is to “shift the losses resulting when wrongful death occurs from the survivors of the decedent to the wrongdoer.” The statute allows for a personal representative of the deceased to bring a lawsuit against any responsible parties for the benefit of any “survivors.”
The first step in a Florida wrongful death lawsuit is to establish who is a “survivor.” Florida law defines a survivor as spouses, children, and parents of the deceased. In addition, any blood relative or adoptive sibling can be considered a survivor if they are at least partially financially dependent on the deceased for support.
After establishing standing to bring the lawsuit, a Florida wrongful death plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant’s wrongful act was the cause of their loved one’s death. This is a similar standard to that which is used in negligence cases and requires the plaintiff prove the defendant violated a duty of care that was owed to their loved one, and that the violation of this duty was the cause of their loved one’s death. If a plaintiff is able to meet each of these elements, they may be entitled to compensation for the loss of their loved one.
The type of damages that are available in a Florida wrongful death lawsuit depend largely on the relationship between the survivor and the deceased. For example, minor children who lose a parent can recover for “lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.” Any survivor – even adult children – can recover for the loss of a deceased parent’s support.
In fact, a recent Florida appellate opinion recently rejected a court-imposed bright-line rule on the maximum amount of damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. In that case, the plaintiff was an adult-child of a woman who died from lung cancer. The jury determined that the plaintiff’s mother’s cause of death was her addiction to cigarettes, and awarded $4.5 million to the plaintiff. On appeal, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the jury’s verdict, finding that it was supported by the evidence.
Have You Lost a Loved One?
If you have recently lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Florida wrongful death lawsuit. The dedicated South Florida wrongful death attorneys at the law firm of Cecere Santana have extensive experience representing the family members of those who have died in preventable accidents. To learn more, call 800-753-5529 to schedule a free consultation today.
See Additional Blog Posts:
In Drunk Driving Accidents, Bar May Also be Responsible, South Florida Injury Attorneys Blog, October 9, 2018.
The Importance of Uninsured Motorist Protection in Florida, South Florida Injury Attorneys Blog, published October 1, 2018.