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Understanding Florida Wrongful Death Laws

One of the worst experiences in people's lives is the death of a loved one. There is disbelief, grief, pain, and sorrow. However, if your loved one died because someone was careless or didn’t pay attention then in addition to all of your other emotions there is anger that your loved one was taken from you unnecessarily and all that implies. Wrongful death can occur for many reasons, auto accidents, pedestrian accidents, defective products are a few examples. While it cannot bring your loved one back, you can seek compensation in a wrongful death suit. Wrongful deaths are tried in civil court, and the goal is to provide economic and non-economic compensation to the victim’s family.

What Is Considered A Wrongful Death?

In the state of Florida, statute 768.19 specifically defines that “when a person’s death is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default or breach of contract or warranty”. If the death of your loved one matches this definition than the “estate” of your loved one can file a lawsuit seeking damages. In Florida, there are four elements the lawsuit must be based on:

● Conduct that amounts to a wrongful act, act of negligence, default or breach of contract or warranty.
● The conduct which the cause of action is based on must have caused the loved ones death.
● This conduct entitles the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if it did not cause death. In case of death the estate is entitled to recover damages

In other words, had your loved one not died they would have had reasonable cause for action had they not died.

Murder Is Not Considered Wrongful Death

Murder is considered an intentional act to put an end to another person’s life. Normally this is pre-planned as opposed to negligence or an accident. However, there is also negligent homicides which is not premeditated, but still ends up taking a life. Murder also is classified into several degrees. As a result, murder is punished by juries in criminal courts and if found guilty the defendant is sent to prison or faces execution.

Who Can File A Lawsuit?

Florida law requires the “estate”, that is the personal representative of the deceased person’s net worth, can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This personal representative can be someone named in the deceased persons will. If there is no will, then the court will choose a personal representative. Family members who can recover damages include:

● Parents, spouse, children
● Blood relative or adopted sibling who was ‘partly or wholly dependent” on the relative for their support
● Child born of unmarried parents. If the deceased is the father, the father had to have formally recognized the child and contributed to the support of the child.

Damages You Can Recover

Under the law in the state of Florida there are categories of damages you can recover from a wrongful death. These include

● Value of the support and services provided.
● Loss of companionship and guidance.
● Mental and emotional pain.
● Medical and funeral expenses.
● Lost wages and benefits.
● Future earnings.
● For spouses, loss of companionship and emotional trauma.
● For children of the deceased, loss of comfort and support.

There are also certain cases where if it can be provided there was intentional, reckless, and malicious conduct, you may also be eligible to claim punitive damages (punitive damages are to punish for the behavior) from the defendant.

If you have lost a loved one as a result of wrongful death, the attorneys at All Injuries Law Firm specialize in personal injury lawsuits so we can provide excellent counsel for your wrongful death lawsuit. With successful practices in Port Charlotte, Sarasota, Fort Myers and Southwest Florida, we will gladly provide you with a free expert consultation..