Florida’s Wrongful Death Laws: An Overview
The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult times in anybody’s life. Dealing with the aftermath of a death and learning how to cope can be very challenging. When the death comes because of an accident, or because someone made a bad decision and caused the death, it becomes even that much more challenging. Florida has laws that exists to ensure that the loved ones left behind after a catastrophic accident are protected. These laws are known as Florida’s wrongful death statutes, or Florida’s Wrongful Death Act.
Florida Wrongful Death Statutes
The Florida Legislature passed laws creating the ability to sue for wrongful death known as the Wrongful Death Act. Found in Florida Statutes sections 768.16-768.26, the act was intended as a way to ensure that the person or company responsible (known under the law as the wrongdoer) for causing a wrongful death be held accountable, and not make the victim’s survivors suffer even more. This is known as burden shifting. But when can a wrongful death action be made, and which survivors are entitled to sue and recover for the pain, suffering, and loss that ensues after a wrongful death? Below is a brief summary answering these questions.
Cause of Action
A wrongful death action can be made when the death is caused by a:
- Wrongful act;
- Default or breach of contract; or
- Breach of warranty.
The ways in which a wrongful death can be caused vary, and this list is meant to be as inclusive as possible. That is why nearly all accidental deaths fall into one of the above listed categories.
If a loved one dies as a result of any of the above situations, then his or her survivors may sue the responsible party under the Wrongful Death Act. And who is entitled to sue under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act? The personal representative of the person who died must bring the suit on behalf of the survivors. The Wrongful Death Act defines the survivors as:
- The surviving spouse;
- Parents; and
- Any other blood relatives or adoptive brothers and sisters who rely on the person who died for financial support.
And what are the damages for which survivors are allowed to sue?
- Lost current and projected future support and services that the person who died would otherwise provide;
- The surviving spouse can sue for lost companionship, protection, and the resulting mental pain and suffering;
- The surviving children can sue for lost parental companionship, instruction, help, and mental pain and suffering; and
- The surviving parents can sue for the mental pain and suffering that happens due to the loss.
As you can see, Florida’s wrongful death statutes are applicable to the survivors that are most closely affected by a wrongful death.
Hopefully this is one area of law that you will never have to use in your life. But unfortunately there are times when a person must sue those responsible for the wrongful death of their loved one. When you do have to make that decision, it is very important to have attorneys working for you that understand Florida’s wrongful death laws – attorneys that will be there to fight for you. The attorneys at Alan Goldfarb, P.A. are experienced and ready to handle your wrongful death case.