WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS IN FLORIDA
What is wrongful death and who is entitled to make a claim? As an experienced Gainesville and Ocala accident attorney that concentrates in wrongful death cases, here is basic information that you need to know:
WHAT IS WRONGFUL DEATH?
A wrongful death occurs when a person is killed by the negligence, misconduct, wrongful act, or omission of another person or company. A wrongful death may result from a personal injury, medical malpractice, or other tortious action like assault or battery.
WHO IS ENTITLED TO BRING A WRONGFUL DEATH SUIT?
A decedent’s personal representative for the estate may bring a wrongful death action on behalf of the decedent’s survivors, such as:
- A spouse
- Minor or adult children
- A parent of the decedent
- Other persons dependent on the decedent
The class of survivors in a medical malpractice case is more limited by statute than in other cases.
WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF A WRONGFUL DEATH SUIT?
Essentially, a wrongful death action is based on the elements of negligence, resulting in the death of the victim. The following elements must be proved:
- A legal duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff
- Breach of that duty by the defendant
- An injury to the plaintiff legally caused by the defendant’s breach
- Damages as a result of the injury
Other elements may apply in a medical malpractice suit, such as proof that a doctor or health care provider’s negligence breached the prevailing professional standard of care. Elements may vary in a tortuous injury action too.
WHAT DAMAGES ARE RECOVERABLE IN A WRONGFUL DEATH ACTION?
In most wrongful death suits, these damages may be recoverable under F.S. §768.21(2010), which governs damages:
- Medical bills
- Spouse’s or child’s loss of companionship
- Survivor’s pain and suffering
- Value of lost support and services, which may include probable lost or future income;
- Funeral expenses; and
- A decedent’s estate may recover for loss of earnings and medical and funeral expenses.
By statute, certain damages are not recoverable in medical malpractice cases resulting in wrongful death.
WHAT LAW REGULATES WRONGFUL DEATH?
Wrongful death is regulated by the “Florida Wrongful Death Act,” under F.S. §§768.19 to 768.26 (2010).
As a wrongful death attorney in North Central Florida with more than 30 years experience, I urge survivors to seek counsel from a knowledgeable attorney, who is experienced in handling such cases. Every wrongful death is individual. If you think you may have a wrongful death case, please feel free to contact me, Jeffrey Meldon, at 800-373-8000. I will be glad to help you make sense of it all at no cost to you.
For more information please see, What is the difference between personal injury and wrongful death?