Wrongful Death Lawsuits: Who Can Recover Damages?
A wrongful death lawsuit allows the survivors of an individual who died due to someone else’s negligence or carelessness to recover for their loss. A wrongful death lawsuit allows the deceased’s dependent family members to file a claim and seek monetary damages for their loss. If you have recently lost a loved one and believe their death was caused by someone’s negligence, then you should understand who is eligible to file a wrongful death action.
Who Can file a Wrongful Death Claim?
A family can seek compensation for the loss of the financial support of their loved one under the Florida Wrongful Death Act. Those who may file include a spouse, child or parents, as well as any other relatives that were dependent on the deceased for financial support.
Components of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Wrongful death occurs when negligence, carelessness, or deliberate behavior results in a death. Negligence means that the person responsible failed to behave in the way a court would expect a reasonably prudent person to act in similar circumstances. The deceased family will need to demonstrate the following to a court the responsible party:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased;
- The defendant breached the duty of care; and
- The defendant’s actions directly caused the decedent’s death.
Who Can Recover Damages?
Courts will consider a number of factors when determining the amount of damages to award the deceased’s survivors. Factors the court will consider include the deceased’s relationship to the survivor, the deceased’s net income, the value of the deceased’s support, and the life expectancy of the deceased and survivors. A survivor’s relationship to the decedent may also determine what benefits they may receive:
- Spouse: spouses may recover compensation for the loss of their spouse’s companionship and protection and for pain and suffering.
- Children: minor children may recover for the lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance and for pain and suffering.
- Parent: parents may recover damages for pain and suffering. If there are not other survivors, parents may also recover for pain and suffering.
Additionally, a court may chose to award punitive damages. A court will award punitive damages when the court believes the responsible party’s actions are intentional, reckless, or grossly negligent.
Contact an Attorney
Florida law limits the time frame for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Failing to file a lawsuit within this timeframe can prevent the deceased’s family from recovering damages for their loss. Taking legal action may not be an immediate priority for those left behind. However, it is important for survivors to consider speaking with an attorney as soon as possible. The trauma of losing a loved one can be compounded by the financial difficulties resulting from their death. Damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit may help help ease the financial hardship and help the family rebuild their lives. The Miami wrongful death attorneys at the office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. can help your family determine whether there is a potential wrongful death claim and receive compensation for your loss. Please contact us today to discuss your case.