If a loved one has died, it is a very emotional, trying time. Many uncertainties arise, especially if the family relied on that person for financial and emotional support. It can be devastating on many levels. However, when someone dies as a result of another person’s negligence, such as in an accident or from medical malpractice, the family of that person may be entitled to compensation. If the death was caused because of recklessness or deliberate actions, this may also be a wrongful death subject to compensation.
Under Florida law, the survivors of the person may be entitled to compensation for the loss of financial and emotional support. The usual survivors who are able to sue are the spouse, children, parents or other relative who was dependent on the deceased person.
There are two categories of damages available in a wrongful death lawsuit. The survivors may be entitled to compensation for lost support and services, loss of companionship and protection, mental pain and suffering, loss of parental companionship, instruction and guidance, and medical and funeral expenses if paid by one of the survivors.
These amounts are considered intangible damages, because it is very difficult to put a dollar amount on, for example, the emotional impact losing a parent may have on a young child. It is nearly impossible to quantify pain and suffering, and these amounts are left up to the jury to decide.
Additionally, the estate of the deceased may recover for lost earnings, loss of net accumulations, and medical and funeral expenses (if paid by the estate). These amounts are tangible, and can be reasonably calculated on what the deceased person was expected to make in their lifetime, and what they could be expected to accumulate in their estate had they not died.
Obviously, many factors contribute to the amount of compensation that is received. The age of the deceased and their potential earning capacity is considered. The age of the children that may have been left behind is a factor, and the particular circumstances of the death are all considerations in determining the amount of damages.
Some of the most common types of wrongful deaths occur as a result of car or truck accidents, birth injuries, workplace injuries and medical malpractice. Wrongful death can also occur as a result of negligent security or from being the victim of a crime.
You must be careful to bring such a lawsuit within the time frame specified in the Florida statutes. A wrongful death suit in Florida must be brought within two years of the death of the person, or it may be dismissed even before the merits of the case are addressed. Even though it may be painful to think about, or discuss, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible in such circumstances to make sure your rights are preserved.
This very brief explanation does not cover all the rules or all the exceptions associated with a wrongful death case. An attorney experienced in wrongful death lawsuits will be able to guide you through this difficult time. The attorneys at Brill & Rinaldi, The Law Firm, have the experience and dedication to help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled and which may settle an uncertain future. Our initial consultation is always free, and will help determine the path you should take.