How does a wrongful death lawsuit work in Florida?
Florida law specifically states that when one person causes the death of another, such as in a fatal car accident, the policy of this state is to hold the person who caused the accident responsible for the costs that the decedent's surviving relatives would otherwise bear as a result. Thus, for example, if the person who dies because of the negligent or other wrongful act of someone else incurred medical expenses, then instead of his or her relatives having to pay for those expenses, the cost should be transferred to the wrongdoer.
The main thing to remember if you are a surviving relative of someone who has died as the result of a possible wrongful act by someone else is not all of the details found in this post, which is not offered as legal advice, can cover every situation. Rather, with the assistance of a personal injury law firm, you and other relatives who may qualify for recovery might be able to maximize your chances of prevailing in your claims securing the compensation due to you for your loss.
The mechanism to carry out this policy is known as the Florida Wrongful Death Act. It establishes who qualifies as a survivor of the decedent for purposes of monetary recovery, who can sue on the survivors' behalf and the types of damages that can be recovered. Some of the salient details of the law include:
- "Surviving relatives" means the parents, spouse and children (including adopted children) of the decedent, as well as siblings if they dependent upon the decedent for support. Whether children born out of wedlock qualify as surviving relatives depends, at least in part, on whether the decedent was their mother or father.
- "Support" that was provided by the decedent to surviving relatives includes more than just money (such as from a salary), but it includes other services and in-kind contributions as well.
- The personal representative of the deceased is the one who brings the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the surviving relatives, and not the relatives themselves.
- Damages that may be awarded to surviving relatives are subject to specific formulations, such as the particular relationship to the decedent (spouses and minor children qualify for different kinds of damages, for example).