A loved one’s sudden death places an excruciating burden on the family they leave behind, causing emotional and financial hardship for years into the future.
While it's impossible to restore a loved one to the family, Florida laws allow surviving family members to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a person who died due to someone else’s negligence.
If a wrongful death lawsuit is successful, the victim’s estate may be awarded different kinds of compensation known as damages.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages in Florida Wrongful Death Cases
Under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, wrongful death lawsuits must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. The case is brought on behalf of the survivors, such as the victim’s spouse, parent(s), child(ren), or other close family members who benefitted from the victim’s support.
Damages in a wrongful death case are generally awarded as a means of compensation for:
- The decedent’s losses. The law allows recovery for the losses and suffering the victim experienced from the time of injury until the moment of death. Some victims may sustain injuries that don't prove fatal until hours or even weeks after the initial negligent act. For example, in the case of a drunk driving accident, the victim may undergo emergency room treatment, surgery, hospital inpatient stays, lost wages, and mental and physical pain and suffering before succumbing to accident injuries.
- Economic family losses. Economic losses is the term used for costs that can be calculated or estimated. In a wrongful death case, the bulk of economic loss is the income—including wages, bonuses, commissions, and benefits—that the victim would have provided if they had lived until the date of their retirement. The accumulated value of these earnings can significantly increase the worth of the family's estate. In addition to income losses, family members may be awarded damages for the value of services the victim can no longer provide, such as yard work, child care, transportation, or home and car repair. The estate can also be reimbursed for medical expenses related to the accident as well as funeral and burial expenses paid for by the estate or out-of-pocket by a surviving family member.
- Non-economic family losses. Non-economic losses, sometimes called pain and suffering, are costs that don't have a definitive dollar value. The law acknowledges that victims and family members may suffer certain conditions after a death which could be difficult to estimate as a monetary sum—such as the loss of companionship, guidance, and protection provided by the deceased person—as well as emotional trauma and loss of enjoyment of life. Florida law also allows spouses and children of a victim to receive damages for loss of consortium, or the loss of the deceased’s love, emotional support, and companionship for the rest of their lives. The law further acknowledges the mental and emotional pain and suffering parents experience due to the loss of a child.
- Other losses. In cases where the at-fault party’s behavior could be considered reckless or extremely negligent, the survivors may be awarded punitive damages. The amount of these damages is determined by a jury and intended to punish the person responsible for the incident and prevent similar behavior in the future.
Our Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Calculate the Damages You're Owed
No family members should be asked to place a monetary value on their loss after a loved one is killed in an accident. While we understand that no amount of money can replace someone you love, we can fight to secure the compensation you're owed for the increased costs of living and the suffering caused by a wrongful death.
Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to have our wrongful death attorney advise you on potential options in a confidential consultation.