Florida's wrongful death laws provide legal recourse for the families and dependents of an individual whose death has been caused by reckless, negligent, or intentional conduct. Governed by the Florida Wrongful Death Act, these laws allow certain family members to seek compensation for damages ranging from medical and funeral expenses to loss of companionship.
What is the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations?
It's essential to note that wrongful death claims in Florida must be filed within two years of the death, a limitation period known as the “statute of limitations.” Considering the complexity of such cases, the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney is strongly recommended to navigate the legal proceedings effectively.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death, as defined by law, occurs when an individual's demise is caused directly by the misconduct, negligence, or intentional action of another party. It's envisioned as a civil action distinct from charges that the state might bring against the same defendant for criminal behavior leading to death. In effect, wrongful death claims are brought forward by the victim's survivors, often immediate family members, to seek compensation for their loss. The central premise hinges on the notion that had it not been for the defendant's actions, the decedent would still be alive.
Some common causes of wrongful death involve:
Who Can Seek Compensation for a Wrongful Death In Florida?
Under Florida law, the personal representative of the decedent's estate is authorized to file a wrongful death claim. This individual, appointed by the court or named in the decedent's will, acts on behalf of the estate and the decedent's survivors. While the personal representative files the claim, it is the survivors who may be eligible to receive the damages. These survivors often include the decedent's spouse, children, and parents, and in some cases, other blood relatives or adoptive siblings who were dependent on the decedent for support or services. The specific types of damages each survivor can claim are outlined in the Florida Wrongful Death Act.
Type of Compensation You Can Recover for a Wrongful Death
In a wrongful death case in Florida, survivors and the estate can recover several types of compensation. Economic damages include the decedent's lost earnings and potential future income, outstanding medical bills related to the decedent's final illness or injury, and funeral and burial expenses. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, cover the intangible losses experienced by the survivors, such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, guidance, and protection, as well as the mental and emotional distress inflicted by the unexpected loss.
In certain cases, where the defendant's conduct was particularly egregious or grossly negligent, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct in the future. Each type of compensation is subject to specific rules and limitations, further emphasizing the need for professional legal guidance in these complex cases.