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Damages for Wrongful Death in Florida

Losing a loved one, especially in a preventable accident, is often one of the worst experiences of one’s life. Having it be due to the negligence of another party adds more nightmares to an already-painful situation, but at least it is often possible to seek damages from a liable party if it can be proved they are liable for your loved one’s passing. There are different types of wrongful death suits in Florida, and different types of damages. Obviously, no compensation can bring back a loved one, but damages can help a family restructure and rebuild in order to remain economically afloat.

Types of Wrongful Death Cases

Depending on who is bringing the case, it may be classed either as a standard wrongful death action, or as a survival action. The former is brought by the decedent’s surviving family (via the estate’s personal representative, usually), and the latter is brought directly on behalf of the estate itself. It is important to know that in Florida, the doctrine of election of remedies prevents a bereaved family from being compensated by both types of suit; an estate might bring both suits, but only one is collectable.

A survival action is an action that a decedent would have been able to bring had they lived. For example, if someone loses their life in a car accident, their estate might be able to bring an action in negligence, given that if the decedent had lived, they would have a cause of action for such a thing. A standard wrongful death action is brought by the personal representative on behalf of the decedent’s family, and seeks damages for intangible losses like pain and suffering.

Types of Damages

The different varieties of wrongful death action will be able to recoup different types of damages. The decedent’s family may recover in different amounts for intangible losses like “the value of support and services,” lost companionship, and depending on the person, pain and suffering, though Florida law is strict on who may recover for such causes of action (usually only the decedent’s spouse and children, though in some situations parents may also recover). One of the few tangible causes of action that survivors may be able to receive compensation for is medical or funeral expenses, especially if the decedent took days or weeks to pass away, accruing significant medical bills.

The decedent’s estate, by comparison, may recover for more tangible harms in a survival action, such as lost wages, and what are called “prospective net accumulations” of the estate, which roughly means how much the deceased might have saved or invested during their lifetime. Survival actions may also recover any medical or funeral expenses that were covered by the estate itself, as opposed to by specific family members. While there are fewer categories of damages recoverable in a survival action, the amounts may wind up being higher depending on the facts of the case – thus, do not immediately elect to recover from a wrongful death action (as opposed to a survival action) without doing your research.

Contact An Orlando Wrongful Death Attorney

When you have lost a loved one, no amount of money will restore them to you, but it can help you absorb expenses and the loss of earnings. If you find yourself in this situation, contacting an experienced Orlando wrongful death lawyer can help. The skilled attorneys at the Hornsby Law Group are happy to assist you with any questions you might have. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

Resource:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0768/Sections/0768.21.html

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