Answers To Your Questions About Wrongful Death Claims In Florida
At Badgley Law Group, we have represented many clients in Orlando and throughout Central Florida in wrongful death claims. Our attorneys have fielded many questions from clients in this complex legal area.
If someone you love has been killed by someone else’s negligence, peruse the questions and answers below and contact us to schedule a consultation with an experienced lawyer from Badgley Law Group.
Who files a wrongful death lawsuit?
Family members who may recover damages in a Florida wrongful death case include:
- The deceased person’s spouse, children and parents
- Any blood relative or adoptive sibling who is partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services
Although Florida law requires the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate to file the wrongful death claim, it can be on behalf of any of those listed above.
In certain circumstances, unrelated minor children living with and supported by the decedent may also bring a claim for wrongful death.
What is a wrongful death?
In order to bring a successful wrongful death cause of action, the following elements must be present:
- The premature, unnecessary and wrongful death of a human being, which is caused by another person’s careless, negligent or intentional behavior, including neglect.
- The survival of family members who are suffering the loss of financial support, love, care, comfort, supervision, guidance, household assistance and general society previously that the wrongfully killed person provided to them.
How long do I have to file A wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death lawsuit in Florida must be filed within two years of the date of death in most cases, according to Florida Statutes Section 95.11(4)(d). The deadline may be “tolled,” or postponed, under a few very precise instances.
What damages can be recovered in a wrongful death case?
Possible damages that can be awarded to family members of the deceased include:
- The value of support and services the deceased person had provided to the surviving family member
- Loss of companionship, guidance and protection provided by the deceased person
- Mental and emotional pain and suffering due to the loss of a child
- Medical or funeral expenses any surviving family member has paid for the deceased person
The deceased person’s estate may also recover certain types of damages. These include:
- Lost wages, benefits and other earnings, including the value of lost earnings that the deceased person could reasonably have been expected to make if he or she had lived, and provided to his or her family
- Lost prospective net accumulations of the estate, or the value of earnings the estate could reasonably have been expected to collect if the deceased person had lived (in other words the savings that a person plan for the future of his or her family)
- Medical and funeral expenses that were paid by the estate directly
How can I prove A wrongful death case?
Typically, you must prove the following elements of a wrongful death case:
- Duty of care – The plaintiff must prove to the court that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased person. For example, in the case of a car accident, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant had an obligation to obey the rules of the road and drive carefully while operating any vehicle
- Breach of duty of care – The plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached the duty of care owed to the defendant. Again, if the situation involves a car accident, the plaintiff must show that the defendant failed to obey the applicable traffic laws such as by speeding or by running a red light
- Causation – It is not sufficient that the plaintiff merely shows that the defendant broke the law in some manner or breached a duty in some other way. The plaintiff must also show that defendant’s particular action directly caused the wrongful death. So, even if the defendant ran a red light while driving a car, the defendant is not responsible for the deceased’s death if the death was caused by something else, such as a mechanical failure on the deceased’s vehicle.
Keep in mind that the burden of proof in a wrongful death lawsuit is on the plaintiff.