Losing a loved one unexpectedly is tragic enough, but an unnecessary death caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions is especially traumatic. In the legal world, this is called a wrongful death.
Not only can a wrongful death leave the victim’s family emotionally bereft, but they may struggle financially as well due to losing that person’s support. Children of wrongful death victims are deprived of parental love and guidance. The surviving spouse loses the comfort and support of their partner.
No amount of money could ever make up for this kind of loss, but recovering monetary damages can help the victim’s loved ones pay the bills and continue to live comfortably after his or her death.
Most Common Causes of Wrongful Deaths in the United States
According to a 2019 report by the CDC, unintentional injuries caused almost 170,000 deaths in 2017, making it the third most common cause of death in the country that year. Vehicle accidents and medical mistakes are both common. With the onset of COVID-19, preventable pandemic-related deaths have also become a problem.
For example, in early 2021, a Miami-Dade County judge ruled to allow a wrongful death lawsuit brought against Publix Super Market. The family of a man who worked at the Publix deli counter claimed he died from COVID-19 related complications after his employer forbade him from wearing a mask at work. The man’s daughter hopes to hold the store accountable for this senseless loss.
Other causes of wrongful death include:
- Birth injuries
- Dog bites
- Amusement park ride accidents
- Dog bites
- Truck and motorcycle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Construction site accidents
- Premises liability
- Product liability
Florida has the highest population of elderly residents in the US, and falling accidents are the number one cause of death for seniors, according to the National Council on Aging. If the negligence of an individual or company led to their fatal accident, it could warrant a wrongful death claim.
Many people in Florida take up boating to enjoy the warm weather and water access. Unfortunately, we also have the highest percentage of boating deaths in the country, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the United States Coast Guard. If you lost someone you love due to someone’s recklessness on the water, this may constitute wrongful death as well.
Individuals Eligible to File a Florida Wrongful Death Claim
Upon their death, Floridians leave their estate to their beneficiaries through a will. If they have no will, the Florida probate laws determine who represents the estate. The personal representative of the person’s estate is able to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the beneficiaries and the estate. They may also file on behalf of the deceased’s direct survivors for a larger recovery amount.
- Parents of the deceased (if dependent or the deceased is under 25)
- Children of the deceased (25 or under)
- Spouse of the deceased (legally married)
- Blood relatives at least partially dependent on the deceased
Specific rules apply depending on the cause of death and which survivor potentially benefits from the claim. According to the Florida statute of limitations filing a wrongful death claim must happen within two years from the date of death.
Recoverable Damages for Wrongful Death Claim in Florida
Damages awarded vary based on a variety of factors, but the decedent’s eligible survivors could be entitled to the following:
- Funeral and/or medical expenses
- Loss of the decedent’s potential earnings
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of guidance
- Loss of instruction
- Loss of protection
Sometimes a court awards punitive damages as well in order to punish the negligent party for particularly reckless or intentional acts. The hope is to discourage others from making the same mistake.
Justice for a Wrongful Death in Florida
When you lose someone you love to a negligent or malicious act, you want the responsible party held accountable. Start by determining your legal options. At Piedra Law Injury Attorneys, you’ll work one-on-one with our compassionate attorneys to determine the best outcome for your case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and take the first step toward justice.