Common Questions About Florida Law
It is natural to have many questions and worries when faced with a legal issue or litigation. The experienced lawyers at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A., ask many common legal questions and provide useful answers to help get you in making the best decisions for you and your family.
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Should I file an accident report if I'm hurt in a store?
If you're hurt on someone else’s property, you should always make sure the owner is aware of the accident. As an experienced premises liability attorney, I know how vital an accident report is as a piece of evidence—and how mistakes on this report can harm your injury case.
Information to Include in an Official Accident Report
If you're hurt in a store, you should alert the manager or an employee so you can fill out an accident report before you leave. Many businesses have their own accident report forms for victims to complete after an injury on their premises.
It's important that all of the information you provide is accurate and relevant, and that you avoid assigning blame for the injury on the document.
You may be asked to provide:
- Contact information. You should include your name, mailing address, phone number, and email address so the manager can contact you and provide you with a copy of the report.
- Facts of the accident. Include the date, time, and location of the accident. A short overview of the incident may be necessary (such as “I slipped in the freezer aisle”), but avoid guessing as to the exact cause of the accident.
- A statement of injury. You may provide a short description of your injury that includes all areas where you feel pain (such as “I hurt my head and arm in a fall”), but don't go into details about the extent of your injuries. The doctor you see in the hours following the accident can provide this evidence of your injuries.
It's important to recognize that the store will use this information to limit its own liability. For this reason, it's critical to record all the details you can remember for your own use—the condition of the floor, what you were doing before the accident, and the names and contact information of any witnesses. Before you leave, take some photos of the scene with your cellphone for further evidence.
At DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A., we carefully review all details of your case to secure the rightful compensation you need to put your accident behind you, and we don't collect any fees until your case is won. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up your consultation.
Why is it important to hire an injury attorney who's willing to go to trial?
If you're looking for an attorney to handle your personal injury case, you should always ask whether they have experience going to trial. Surprisingly, many big-name law firms don't try their own cases—and the unwillingness to go to trial can have a big impact on the amount of compensation you receive.
How a Trial Attorney Benefits Your Personal Injury Case
Insurance companies know which lawyers try cases, and which ones don't. As a result, insurers are much more likely to negotiate a favorable settlement with an attorney who has the skills to take the case to court and won't hesitate to do so if that's the best option for the client.
Insurers know that trial attorneys are more likely to:
- Secure a jury verdict. Insurers want to keep cases out of court as often as possible because they could be ordered to pay vast amounts to injury victims. An attorney who's known for taking cases to court is a threat to the insurer’s interests, making the insurance company more flexible during settlement negotiations.
- Undergo a thorough preparation. A trial attorney prepares every injury case as if it will go to trial from the very beginning. This means comprehensive fact-checking, investigation, and examination of the details and how they interlock to prove a solid case. In this way, the case is constructed for the best chance of success even if it doesn't actually go to court.
- Stay the course. Lawyers who don't want to go to trial hope they can convince an insurer to settle favorably, but if the insurer offers too little, the lawyer may advise the client to accept the settlement rather than go to court. Trial attorneys aren’t simply waiting for the insurer to call their bluff, allowing them to negotiate from a position of strength.
At DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A., attorney Paul Cavonis carefully reviews all the details of your injury case to secure the rightful compensation you need to put your accident behind you. He provides one-on-one guidance—and doesn't collect any fees until your case is won. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up your consultation.
Can I challenge a relative's will if I was disinherited?
A last will and testament is a legal contract, and disinherited family members cannot contest a will simply because they don't agree with its terms.
That said, there are valid legal reasons for challenging a will in most states. If the court decides one of these reasons exists, some or all of a last will and testament could be declared invalid.
Legal Reasons to Contest a Relative's Will in Florida
State laws vary on the reasons why a relative may contest a will in court, as well as what happens if the dispute is successful. Depending on what grounds the will is challenged, a Florida court may rule that one or more provisions are not legally-binding, or it can rule that the entire will is invalid.
Under Florida law, you can legally challenge a last will and testament if:
- The decedent lacked the mental capacity to sign the will. If the court finds that the decedent (the person who created the will) didn't have the mental capacity to make or sign the will, the entire document may be declared invalid. If this happens, everything in the decedent's estate will be distributed according to Florida's intestacy laws as if they had died without a will.
- The decedent was unduly influenced. A will may be void if someone else forced or influenced them to make a decision they wouldn't ordinarily have made.
- The will was procured by fraud. A will may be declared invalid if the decedent was deliberately misled by someone else, or if it was fraudulently created or obtained.
- The will wasn't created in accordance with state law. Each state sets forth procedures that must be followed in order to make a will legally binding. For example, every will in Florida must be signed in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign the will. A court may invalidate documents that were not signed with the correct formality.
If you believe you may have grounds to challenge a loved one's will, the legal team at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis can advise you on your potential options. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions.
Should I wait to get medical care after a motorcycle crash?
Absolutely not! While many riders are taken to the emergency room by ambulance after a motorcycle crash, this doesn't mean that anyone fortunate enough to walk away from an accident didn't sustain injuries.
Victims may begin to develop symptoms hours, days, or even a week after the accident, and a failure to seek medical attention could affect your motorcycle injury claim.
Why It's Best to Get Medical Care Immediately After a Motorcycle Crash
Even if you didn't go to the hospital directly from the accident scene, you could still be owed payment for the costs of the injury. If you feel pain in the days following the accident, you should go to the doctor as soon as you begin to show symptoms of an injury.
By seeking medical advice, you'll be able to:
- Get the most effective treatment. Health should be your utmost priority. Early treatment allows doctors to see the full extent of your injuries and intervene in ways that reduce complications and stop pain quickly.
- Refute many insurance arguments. A gap between the accident date and the date of your treatment may spur an insurance company to claim that your injury was caused by something else—something it won't cover.
- Build a reliable medical record. A detailed medical record is vital when it comes to presenting convincing evidence to an insurance company. Even if there was a small delay, your doctor may be able to establish that your injuries are consistent with an accident that happened days before.
Our attorney Paul Cavonis is an avid motorcycle rider and is dedicated to protecting the rights of motorcyclists injured as a result of someone else’s negligence. If you're struggling after a crash, he'll advise you on your options at no cost—and our firm doesn't collect payment until we secure a recovery. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation.
What’s the difference between a personal injury claim and a wrongful death claim?
When a person is injured through someone else’s negligence, they have the right to pursue damages through a personal injury claim. However, if a victim suffers a fatal accident, the right to sue passes to their family members and is now called a wrongful death claim.
Types of Accidents and Injuries That May Lead to a Florida Wrongful Death Claim
Under Florida law, any injury caused by a “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person” entitles a victim to recover damages.
A wrongful death claim may follow many different types of injury cases where someone has died, including:
- Motor vehicle accidents. These are common causes of wrongful death, especially for victims of drunk drivers, truck crashes, pedestrian injuries, and motorcycle accidents.
- Slips and falls. A dangerous slip or fall could give rise to a premises liability action, forcing a negligent property owner to pay for damages.
- Dog bites. A dog attack on a child or senior citizen may result in death, causing severe emotional trauma and pain and suffering to the family.
- Defective drugs. Parents and family members of victims who were killed by a fatal overdose, drug interaction, or defective medical device could sue the product manufacturer for wrongful death.
While no amount of money can replace a lost loved one, a wrongful death claim might offer closure and compensation for you and your family. Damages may include significant payments to the deceased person's estate, including lost wages, benefits, and medical and funeral expenses.
If someone in your family was fatally injured through negligence, attorney Paul Cavonis will listen to your story and explain your rights and options under the law. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions.
Who pays for the costs of a hit-and-run car accident in Florida?
Florida laws impose strict penalties such as jail time and heavy fines for leaving the scene of an accident. However, hundreds of victims are still injured every year by hit-and-run drivers. If you are unable to identify the responsible party in your crash, you may have to seek other forms of payment rather than filing an injury claim against the vanishing motorist.
Collecting Compensation for a Florida Hit-and-Run Accident
The best way to improve your chances of getting compensation after a hit-and-run crash is to report the incident to the police.
Filing a police report not only allows officers to pursue the investigation while you're recovering from injury, it also makes you eligible to receive payment from the Florida Crimes Compensation Trust Fund if the driver is never identified.
Victims may also be able to collect compensation for hit-and-run accidents through:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. All Florida drivers are required to carry PIP insurance through their auto insurance policies. Most PIP coverage pays for 80 percent of any medical expenses related to the crash, including your own. However, your claim may be denied if you weren't treated by a doctor within 14 days of the incident.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) insurance. If you selected uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage as part of your auto insurance policy, then you may be able to recover damages by making a claim with this provider.
- Health insurance. If you use your health insurance to pay for costs related to the accident, your health insurance carrier can seek reimbursement through your auto insurance provider.
The compensation options for a hit-and-run car accident vary widely depending on your circumstances, so it's a good idea to meet with us to determine the best way to get maximum coverage for your injury costs.
Attorney Paul Cavonis can offer advice on your best options and get the compensation you need to recover—and our firm doesn't collect any fees until your case is settled. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up your initial consultation.
What should I do after a slip and fall on someone else’s property?
Nearly everyone will suffer a trip and fall accident at some point in their lives. While the effects of these accidents can range from bumps and bruises to lifelong complications, they all have one thing in common—the victim is usually not the one at fault.
By knowing what to do after a slip, trip, or fall, you can significantly increase your chances of getting fair payment for your injuries.
Property Owners Have Responsibilities Under Florida Law
Owners of commercial buildings, parking lots, and private homes have a legal duty to maintain their premises to ensure they're safe for visitors. If the owner of the property didn't warn you of the hazard that caused your fall or take steps to fix the problem, you may be able to make a claim against them for your injury costs.
However, your claim will only be successful if you take action in the minutes, hours, and days after the accident to protect your rights.
After you have slipped or fallen on someone else's property, you should:
- Stay at the scene. It might not be wise to get up immediately after a fall, as you may be lightheaded. If people come over to help you, be sure to record their names and contact information on your cellphone. If you can, it’s a good idea to take photos of the location where you fell, noting any stairs, spills, icy patches, or other conditions that contributed to your accident.
- Report the incident. If you fall in a public place, you may be asked to fill out an incident report with the manager, landlord, or owner. Keep your answers simple, avoid any language that suggests you're at fault, and be sure to request a copy before you leave.
- See a doctor. One of the biggest mistakes people make after an injury is failing to get immediate medical treatment. This places your health at risk, and it sends a signal to the at-fault party’s lawyer and insurance company that you weren't seriously hurt in the fall. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so never put off going to the doctor after a sudden injury.
- Call an attorney. The easiest way to protect your rights is to speak to our experienced car accident law firm as soon as possible. We can take over the legal aspects of the claim and prevent you from making mistakes—such as posting about the accident on social media or giving a statement to an insurance company.
If you suffered a serious accident, attorney Paul Cavonis will fight for you while you focus on healing. We answer all of your questions and advise you on your options, helping you get the compensation you need to recover. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation.
What motorcycle safety features are required by law in Florida?
Every state is allowed to set its own laws regarding motorcycle licensing, safe riding, and equipment required to legally operate a two-wheeled vehicle.
In Florida, motorcycle laws are focused on the bike itself, setting minimum requirements for all parts of the motorcycle to ensure riders can stop safely and be seen by other road users.
Motorcycle Safety Requirements Under Florida Law
Although Florida doesn't require all adult riders to wear helmets, it does stipulate that riders must wear DMV-approved eye protection in order to operate a motorcycle. In addition to Florida’s helmet and motorcycle licensing laws, the state also has regulations regarding:
- Brakes. In order for a motorcycle to legally be operated on Florida roads, it must be equipped with brakes capable of developing a brake force of at least 43.5 percent of its gross weight, with the ability to stop from a speed of 20 mph in less than 30 feet.
- Lights and reflectors. Your motorcycle must be equipped with at least one headlamp and at least one tail lamp, as well as a separate lamp that illuminates the rear registration plate. Any motorcycle in operation on a public street must have the headlight (or headlights) turned on. In addition, your motorcycle must have at least one red reflector at the rear.
- Handlebars. It's illegal to ride any motorcycle with handlebars higher than the shoulders of the person operating the bike.
- Seats and footrests. A motorcycle operator must be seated on the permanent and regular seat of the vehicle, and may not transport passengers unless the motorcycle is specifically designed to carry more than one person. If you are carrying a passenger, the passenger must be seated with their feet on the footrests.
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, attorney Paul Cavonis is here to help. He will answer all of your questions and walk you through your legal options, helping you get the compensation you need to recover. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation.
Can I get payment for a slip or fall on a Florida sidewalk?
Sidewalks are supposed to be a safe place for pedestrians to travel, especially those set far away from speeding cars and busy alleys. However, even if there is nobody else on a walkway, you still have the potential for a serious injury through a fall. When this happens, a you can seek compensation for medical bills and pain and suffering from the person whose negligence caused the injury.
Common Conditions Leading to Sidewalk Falls
An unexpected hazard can cause a you to fall forward, breaking bones in your hands, knees, or face, while a backward fall can cause back pain, tailbone injuries, or even traumatic brain injury.
Some of the most common sidewalk dangers include:
- Cracked or crumbling pavement
- Curbs that have not been lowered at crosswalks or other entry points
- Uneven grading between pavement slabs or nearby surfaces (such as when a sidewalk intersects a driveway)
- Slippery walking surfaces (such as mud, moss, oil, or spilled sand and gravel)
- Debris (such as children’s bikes, electrical cords, tree limbs, or trashcans)
- Missing pavement slabs
- Cracked or hazardous walkways from tree roots pushing through the surface
Liability for Slips or Falls on Sidewalks
Under the theory of negligence, anyone who has the responsibility of installing or maintaining a sidewalk must take reasonable care to address common dangers before they cause injury. When these injuries occur, there may be a number of parties who could share liability, including:
- Municipalities. State and local government agencies must ensure that their sidewalks are properly designed for use. They must also rope off any broken slabs or areas under repair with caution tape until sidewalk maintenance can be performed.
- Businesses. If a business allowed an unsafe condition to continue on the sidewalk or path outside the building, the business may be held liable for negligence.
- HOAs. Condo or homeowners associations might share liability for a slip or fall inside a gated community, apartment complex, or housing development.
- Homeowners. Homeowners may be held partially responsible for the maintenance of city sidewalks that border their property. If you fell on a sidewalk in front of a residence, you may be able to bring a claim against the city, the homeowner’s insurance, or both.
Attorney Paul Cavonis will fight to get you all that you are owed when someone else’s negligence causes a fall, and we do not charge you anything unless we secure compensation for you. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to schedule a confidential consultation to learn more about your legal options.
Why Is It Important to Fill out the Questionnaire Prior to Your Meeting?
Why Is It Important to Fill out the Questionnaire Prior to Your Meeting? (Transcript)
D. "Rep" DeLoach III, Estate Planning and Board Certified Elder Law AttorneyThank you for choosing our law firm to help with your estate planning. As part of your initial consultation, we're going to send you a questionnaire for completion for you to bring in with you to your initial appointment. This questionnaire is very important to us and it's very important that you take your time to fill out completely and accurately.The questionnaire will set out your age, address, occupation, but also gives the names of potential beneficiaries. So it'll spell out things (or names) that we may need, or other important aspects to your estate plan. We'll also need a list of your assets in the questionnaire and those assets will provide us a basic understanding of your estate plan. And this is a very, very important piece of the plan.We need to know your assets because we need to know how to best plan your estate based upon where your assets are, what are the potential values of the assets, how these assets should be distributed. And it's important that you do this and take your time. It's going to help make sure we have a great first meeting, and we don't have to go back and get basic information. We can jump right in and start helping you out.Again, we look forward to meeting you and thank you so much.
Can I recover damages if my car struck a fixed object?
Many people are injured every year when their cars run off the road and strike a tree, sign, or light pole. Although all drivers are required to have a minimum amount of car insurance under Florida law, policies typically won't cover single-vehicle accidents unless you purchased comprehensive coverage.
For this reason, it's worth investigating whether someone else might share liability for your crash.
Potential Liability in Fixed Object Car Accidents
As the driver of the only damaged vehicle in a crash, you are generally assumed to be at fault after striking a fixed object. However, you may still be able to file a claim if someone else’s negligence played a role in the accident.
For instance, you may be able to collect compensation if your accident was caused by:
- A “bounce-off” crash. If another motorist struck you before you hit the object, such as a driver sideswiping your vehicle and pushing it off of the roadway and into a guardrail, the other driver may be liable for crash costs.
- A near-miss incident. Someone may have entered your path suddenly, causing you to overcorrect and steer your car off the road. If another driver was texting, drunk, or simply not paying attention and swerved in front of you, they could be held responsible.
- A negligent property owner. Property owners have a duty to keep roads clear of objects that could cause harm. If you swerved to avoid an unsecured animal or struck a manmade object that was built too near the roadway, the property owner may be liable.
- Hazardous road conditions. City and state governments may be responsible for accidents caused by dangerous curves or missing road signs. Additionally, trucking companies must contain their cargo to prevent car accidents due to spilled gravel or road debris.
- A defective product. Single-vehicle crashes often occur from a sudden tire blowout, brake failure, or other vehicle malfunction that causes a driver to lose control of the vehicle. Motorists may also be impaired or even fall asleep behind the wheel after taking dangerous prescription medications.
If someone else’s actions caused your injuries, attorney Paul Cavonis can advise you on all of your legal options and help you get the compensation you deserve. Simply fill out the form on this page today or give us a call to get started.
Texting and Driving in Florida
Electronic devices are the biggest cause of distractions for drivers nationwide. In 2016, Florida alone saw roughly 50,000 accidents and 233 fatalities as a result of distracted driving.
In the time it takes to glance at a text message, a driver can travel nearly 300 feet—enough to strike a pedestrian, hit the back of a stopped line of cars, or even veer off the road entirely.
Florida Drivers May Be Ticketed for Texting and Cell Phone Use
In 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law strengthening protections against electronic distractions and making texting and driving a primary offense. As of July 1, law enforcement officers may pull over drivers who are texting without any other reason for the traffic stop.
Florida detracted driving laws place specific restrictions on:
- Cell phones. While it's legal for drivers to make and answer calls, all drivers in school zones and construction areas must use hands-free systems in order to talk on the phone. Troopers from the Florida Highway Patrol troopers may begin issuing warnings for cell phone use beginning October 1, 2019 and issue citations for the practice after December 31.
- Texting. It's illegal for drivers in Florida to text while driving. This includes manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols or other characters into a virtual keyboard, hitting a button on a wireless device to send messages, or reading any data off a device while a vehicle is in motion. Drivers face a $30 fine for a first offense, plus court costs; with second and subsequent offenses within five years, there's a $60 fine and an addition of three points to their licenses. Drivers caught texting in a school zone may have two additional points added to their licenses, while motorists whose texting resulted in a crash will have six points added to their licenses.
- Truckers and bus drivers. Operators of trucks and buses are held to a higher standard than other drivers. Both truck and bus drivers are only allowed to use wireless communication devices if they're hands-free, and can be pulled over and charged if they use a handheld electronic device while driving in Florida law without committing another violation. For the first violation, commercial drivers can receive a fine up to $500 and their companies can be charged separate costs up to $2,750. If a driver commits three texting violations or more, he or she can be liable for a $2,750 fine and license suspension for 120 days, while the employer can be fined up to $11,000.
If you've been injured in a distracted driving accident, you should have the incident investigated as soon as possible. A thorough examination can reveal if a driver was using his or her cell phone at the time of the accident, which can significantly affect the amount of damages a victim is awarded.
Our attorneys can help you build a strong injury case and advise you of all of your legal options. Simply fill out the form on this page today to make an appointment in our offices, or call the number on this page to speak to an attorney.
Will insurance pay for OEM parts after a rear-end car accident?
If you're involved in a crash that wasn't your fault, you have the option of repairing your vehicle with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. However, even if your car is fixed using OEM parts at an authorized dealership, it won't be worth the same as it was immediately before the crash.
The damage to your vehicle might be undetectable and it may run perfectly, but its resale value will always be lower simply because it was involved in an accident. The only way to make up this difference is by filing a diminished value claim against the driver who struck you.
Our attorneys only represent clients with diminished value claims when handling a car accident case that caused personal injuries.
Types of Diminished Value Claims in Florida
Florida's negligence laws require an at-fault party to pay for any damages needed to make the victim whole again. Even if your car is back to normal due to repairs, you'll still suffer a loss when you sell or trade your vehicle in the future. In an effort to make victims truly whole again, Florida allows victims to recover the difference between a car's pre-crash value and its value after repairs, known as diminished value.
Compensation for the diminished value of a vehicle may include:
- Immediate diminished value. This is the difference between the vehicle’s pre-accident value and its post-accident value after the insurance company files the claim. It may also include losses from the insurer’s involvement in the claim, such as if your insurer will only pay for repairs at certain auto shops.
- Repair-related diminished value. Repair-related diminished value includes losses that result from the quality of repairs. Noticeable differences in paint colors, installation of generic parts, or improper installation of panels or bodywork that creates a rattling noise or impacts aerodynamics may all qualify as repair losses.
- Inherent diminished value. The most widely-recognized form of diminished value is the amount lost merely because the car was involved in an accident. When you attempt to sell the vehicle or trade it in for a new car, potential buyers will have access to the vehicle's crash history, significantly diminishing the amount you may be offered. Inherent diminished value pays for owning a “crashed” vehicle, even if the vehicle was repaired to its original condition.
Attorney Paul Cavonis works one-on-one with every injury client, giving you the clarity and attention you need after a crash. Your case will never be passed off to paralegals or other team members, and we always return calls promptly to answer your questions. If you were injured in a crash, simply fill out the brief contact form on this page to set up a consultation with our car accident law firm.
What is a fiduciary? Who should act as my fiduciary?
When you are planning for your death and incapacity, one of the first questions is who would be your fiduciary? Your fiduciary is one of the key decision-makers in any estate plan, and the potential roles include your successor trustee, personal representative (i.e. your executor), your attorney-in-fact (your power of attorney), and your designation of health care surrogate.
What is a Fiduciary?
A fiduciary is a trusted person or institution that can act for you upon your death or incapacity. A fiduciary is held to the highest standard of trust in the legal world. For estate planning purposes, your fiduciary roles can be separated out in different ways:
- Successor Trustee: While not everyone needs a living trust, your successor successor trustee can manage your financial affairs during your lifetime and also upon your death.
- Personal Representative: Also known as your "executor," your Personal Representative is appointed to handle your probate estate upon your death as part of the Florida probate process.
- Attorney-in-Fact: The person named in your durable power of attorney, this person handles your financial and legal affairs. If you become incapacitated and you have not created a durable power of attorney in advance, you may need a guardianship for someone to manage your legal and financial decisions.
- Health Care Surrogate: You should name a decision-maker if you are unable to handle your medical decisions. In Florida, you nominate this person in a designation of health care surrogate. If you become incapacitated without naming a health care surrogate, your family can become your health care proxy.
Often, the same person can serve in all of these fiduciary roles - your successor trustee, personal representative, attorney-in-fact and your health care surrogate.
Who should act as my Fiduciary?
First, you must trust the person you name in any role. There is no better way to create problems in your estate plan than to name an untrustworthy person. After that, the person you name should be able to act if needed. Someone who lives out of state, for instance, may not be a great choice if you have a trusted local person. Finally, you must trust this person’s ability to run your affairs. The person you name should have the financial and emotional ability to handle difficult situations in being your advocate. We have a list of ways to choose your health care surrogate, for instance.
What if I do not have any children or family?
While most people look to family fiduciaries, this is not possible for everyone for a variety of reasons. If you do not have a trusted family member who is able and willing to assist you, some estate planning attorneys serve as fiduciaries. If your estate planning attorney will not do this for you, he or she may know professional guardians and banks who could help you in the event of your death or incapacity. As an elder law attorney, our law firm serves in this role for some clients.
What’s the difference between a survival action and a wrongful death claim?
If your loved one was fatally injured in an accident, you and other surviving family members may be able to pursue a claim for damages under Florida law.
Depending on the circumstances, you could be eligible to file either a wrongful death claim or a survival action to recover compensation for an injured party’s death. Let's take a look at the differences between these two types of claims.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim involves a person killed as a result of someone else’s negligence or recklessness. Some examples include being struck by a drunk driver, falling from a height due to a lack of railings, or slipping on someone else’s property.
State laws give all accident victims the legal right to file injury claims in order to recover payment. Since a fatally-injured victim can't file a claim on their own behalf, the right to bring an injury claim falls to the next of kin. In most cases, only a surviving spouse, children, or parents can file a wrongful death claim.
Potential damages in a wrongful death case may include:
- Compensation for funeral expenses
- Loss of financial contribution
- Lost parental support
- Loss of household assistance
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional trauma
The amount awarded depends on the claimant’s relationship to the deceased person, the deceased person’s assets and income, and the value of the deceased person’s services to the family.
What Is a Survival Action?
A survival action is an extension of an existing legal claim filed by an injured party. For example, a victim may file an injury claim after being struck by a piece of falling construction equipment, but is killed in a car accident while the case is still pending. If this happens, the victim’s surviving family members may pursue a survival action to recover the compensation the individual would be owed had he or she survived.
Survival actions are different from wrongful death claims because they seek compensation for the pain and suffering the injured party endured before his or her death. The death doesn't have to be related to the injury for which damages are sought in order for a survival action to be successful.
Damages in survival claims may include compensation for loss of income, medical bills, and pain and suffering between the accident and the time of death. They vary depending on the duration of the suffering after the accident, the severity of pain, and the variety of symptoms the victim suffered prior to death.
The attorneys at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis can examine the details of your case and determine whether you may be eligible to file a wrongful death or survival action claim. Reach out to us using the information on this page to set up a consultation with a Florida wrongful death attorney.