Losing a loved one under any circumstance is devastating. However, losing a loved one due to the negligence of another is particularly distressing. Fortunately, surviving family members of the deceased may be eligible to file a wrongful death suit against those responsible for the tragedy. A Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyer from our firm can help you navigate the Florida court system and assist you with your case.
Call the professionals at Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. in Fort Lauderdale to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today: (954) 524-2820. We want to help you recover the compensation you and your family deserve.
A wrongful death claim allows surviving family members and the decedent’s estate to recover damages related to the death.
Wrongful death claims stem from a death caused by negligent behavior or misconduct by another person, e.g., car accident, medical malpractice, slip and fall, etc.
The personal representative of the decedent’s estate is the only person who is legally able to bring a wrongful death action. To be a personal representative, one must be a Florida resident with interest in the estate who is not under legal disability. Unless the decedent designates a personal representative in his will, the surviving spouse will have preference for appointment.
In order to be successful in court, you will have to prove the following elements:
The representative must first show that the decedent is, in fact, deceased. The representative can do so with a death certificate.
Proving liability in a wrongful death case is similar to proving negligence in any other personal injury case. The plaintiff will have to prove four elements:
Under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, survivors and the decedent’s estate may recover different types of damages. In general, pecuniary injury, or financial injury, is the main source of recovery in wrongful death suits.
According to Fla. Stat. § 768.21(1), each survivor’s damages will rely on his or her relationship with the decedent, the life expectancies of the survivor and the decedent, the decedent’s available net income, and the replacement value of the decedent’s services.
Courts award punitive damages when the defendant’s actions were especially wanton, malicious, or intentional (e.g., driving while intoxicated, intentionally running someone off the road, etc.) Courts award these damages, not to compensate the decedent’s family, but rather to punish the defendant.
To recover damages, the personal representative will provide evidence that shows the effect (financial and emotional) the death has had on the family. The representative may also use testimony from experts that show the financial impacts of the decedent’s death.
A personal representative can also file a survival action on the decedent’s behalf; however, the survival action benefits the estate, not the survivors directly.
A survival action is a continuance of a case the decedent had prior to death. It is important to note that, in Florida, a claim filed by the decedent will not survive if it is for personal injuries that ultimately caused the decedent’s death.
For example, if the decedent was in a car accident in 2016 and files a personal injury claim, but dies from those injuries, that action will not survive.
However, if the decedent also suffered whiplash injuries in a 2015 car accident and had an ongoing claim for those injuries, that claim would survive.
The court will base the damages awarded in a survival action on numerous factors relating to the decedent’s condition. These factors include:
If successful, the decedent’s estate may recover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and funeral costs.
A personal representative can file wrongful death lawsuits and survival actions together.
The loss of a family member can change your entire world. In addition to emotional turmoil, you may find yourself facing financial difficulties. The attorneys at Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. in Fort Lauderdale want you to know you are not alone. With the help of their compassionate and knowledgeable staff, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim to recover compensation.
While no amount of money will bring back your loved one, it can allow you to focus on your emotional recovery instead of worrying about unpaid bills. Call us today for a free consultation: (954) 524-2820.