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Does Florida permit lawsuits in the loss of a loved one?

When a Lake County family suffers the loss of a loved one in a fatal car accident, the Florida Wrongful Death Act governs who may sue, the damages that may be collected and other aspects of the lawsuit. The law is contained in sections 768.16 through 768.26 of the Florida Statutes.

Under the law, the spouse, children and parents of a victim killed in a fatal accident may recover damages from the negligent driver who was responsible for causing the accident. It should be noted that brothers and sisters of the deceased victim are not listed as survivors entitled recover compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Brothers and sisters are only entitled to recover compensation if they were dependent upon the decedent for support or services. The statute includes in its definition of services household tasks that the deceased regularly performed on behalf of the survivor.

Although they are entitled to recover damages for the death of a loved one in a fatal accident, survivors of the deceased victim may not file the lawsuit on their own. The statute directs that the lawsuit against the negligent driver must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased victim. The damages recovered in the lawsuit are for the benefit of the survivors and the estate. The damages allowed to be recovered include:

  • Lost support and services
  • Loss of companionship recoverable by the spouse
  • Pain and suffering and emotional losses suffered by the spouse
  • Lost parental companionship
  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral expenses

The Florida Wrongful Death Act is a complicated statute. This post offers an overview of just one aspect of the statute, but it should not be relied upon as legal advice. A person with a wrongful death claim under the act should obtain legal advice from an attorney who can provide advice specific to the facts of that particular case.

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