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What damages are allowed for wrongful death in Florida?

Often the focus of a motor vehicle accident centers on the injuries to the drivers and passengers, and what they may attempt to recover in connection with those injuries. Less commonly examined, perhaps, is the situation in which a person dies in such an accident.

In such an occurrence, the survivors of the decedent may have a cause of action based on the concept of wrongful death, which like a regular personal injury claim is based on a claim of negligence. Florida has enacted a law, the "Florida Wrongful Death Act" (the Act), which establishes the types of damages that may be sought in a wrongful death lawsuit.

The people who may seek damages in a wrongful death action are the parents, spouse, and children of the decedent. Also, if they at least partly depended on the decedent for support or services, other relatives such as brothers, sisters and adopted siblings may also seek damages. Children born out of wedlock may also be considered to be survivors in some circumstances.

The types of recoverable damages from a successful wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • Medical or funeral expenses;
  • Loss of companionship and protection, as well as mental pain and suffering for the decedent's spouse;
  • Loss of parental instruction, guidance and companionship, and mental pain and suffering for children up to the age of 25;
  • Mental pain and suffering for the decedent's parents.

In addition, survivors may recover a share of damages for lost support and services. These damages are subject to a variety of calculations that the Act lays out. Also, the decedent's personal representative -- who is the party who brings the lawsuit on behalf of the survivors -- is also entitled to some forms of damages.

The Act contains considerable information about wrongful death actions in Florida, aside from damages. It may be found in Chapter 768 of Title XLV of the Florida Statutes, sections 768.16 through 768.26. For more information on your legal options for filing a wrongful death claim, it may be a wise decision to speak with an attorney.

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