If you have lost a loved one because of the wrongdoing or fault of someone else, you may be able to bring a wrongful death claim. Family members can assert these claims to account for the severe damages that they experience from losing a loved one.
While money can never take the place of a family member, it is the only way that the law can compensate loved ones for this often-devastating loss. You can talk to a personal injury attorney to get a better understanding of your potential rights after you have lost a loved one in an accident.
Wrongful death claims in Florida arise when someone loses their life because of someone else’s “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract.” Negligence is a legal term that is similar to carelessness or recklessness.
This type of claim allows loved ones to obtain compensation for items such as:
The deceased individual’s estate can also recover damages as well. These may include:
In Florida, only certain individuals can bring a wrongful death claim in court. In fact, Florida law only allows the deceased person’s personal representative to bring a wrongful death claim. The personal representative should be explicitly named in the lost loved one’s will. If the loved one did not have a will, then a representative will be appointed by the court.
The personal representative files the wrongful death claim on behalf of specific surviving family members. These individuals include:
Any blood relatives or adoptive siblings who were dependent on the decedent for support or services should also be named in the wrongful death suit. These relatives can vary, but they may include nieces and nephews and grandchildren, just to name a few.
If a child’s parents are unmarried, then whether the child should be named in the wrongful death suit can be complicated. If the decedent was the mother, then the child should be named. However, if the father passes away, then the child should only be named if the father formally recognized the child as being his child and was required to pay child support.
In order to be eligible to recover damages in a wrongful death claim, you need to be recognized as a “survivor” of the deceased under the Act. Survivors are (in this particular order): surviving spouse, children, and parents. In rare exceptions to the general rule, other relatives or adoptive siblings that can prove that they were dependent on the deceased for support or services can also be classified as “eligible survivors” under the Act.
The Act has a different set of rules and limitations for wrongful death cases caused by medical malpractice. While adult children (25 years old and greater) are normally eligible to recover damages of loss of parental companionship or pain and suffering if there is no surviving spouse, it is not the case in medical malpractice cases.
Another limitation in medical malpractice cases is that parents of an adult child cannot recover damages for mental pain and suffering. In all other cases, meanwhile, each parent of a deceased adult child can recover damages for mental pain and suffering if there are no other survivors (spouse and their child’s own kids).
Although it is often very difficult to consider a legal case after you have lost a member of your family, there are time restrictions that apply to wrongful death claims. It is a good idea to involve a Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
Contact the legal team at Neufeld, Kleinberg & Pinkiert, PA to discuss your potential legal claim as a personal representative or family member. We have the experience you need to deal with these often-complicated cases.