Wrongful Death

Coping with the loss of a family member when that loss was caused by another’s carelessness or negligence can be especially difficult. When a person is killed as the result of another’s negligence, that person’s estate and survivors may have a claim for wrongful death. These lawsuits take considerable time, dedication, and personal attention to effectively pursue. A lawyer must truly learn how a death has affected individual family members, both emotionally and financially. Under Florida law, these lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date of death.

What can be recovered in a wrongful death case?

Florida Statute §768.21 governs what may be claimed as damages in a wrongful death action. Under Florida Statute §768.21, each statutory survivor may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of injury until death, with interest, and future loss of support and services from the date of death forward. “Support” includes contributions in kind as well as money. “Services” means tasks, usually of a household nature, regularly performed by the decedent that will be a necessary expense to the survivors of the decedent. If the decedent was married, his or her surviving spouse may also recover for loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection and for mental pain and suffering. A decedent’s minor children (and all children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse and the claim is not one based on medical malpractice) may also recover for lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance and for mental pain and suffering. If the decedent was a minor child, then each parent may also recover for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury. If there are no other survivors, each parent of an adult child may also recover for mental pain and suffering provided the action is not one for medical malpractice. Medical or funeral expenses may be recovered by a survivor who has paid them.

Finally, the estate of a decedent is entitled to recover medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent’s injury or death that have become a charge against the estate, or that were paid by or on behalf of decedent. The estate may also recover what are referred to as “net accumulations,” which are the part of the decedent’s expected net business or salary income, including pension benefits, that the decedent probably would have retained as savings and left as part of her or his estate if the decedent had lived her or his normal life expectancy.

If you have questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit, contact Viñas & DeLuca for a free and confidential consultation by calling (305) 372-3650. Or, you can complete our Free Case Evaluation Form and we will contact you.