Tragedy can strike when you least expect it. It is never easy to deal with death, but it is especially difficult when death occurs because of the wrongdoing of others. Florida has a framework in place to assist those in recovering monetary damages for those who have lost loved ones due to the negligence or in some cases, recklessness or the intentional acts of others.
Florida’s wrongful death statute is fairly complex and requires the help of wrongful death lawyers in many circumstances to navigate. At Burnett Wilson Reeder, we have significant experience dealing with this unfortunate area of the law and can help your family through this difficult time and help you recover damages for your loss.
Florida Statutes Sections 768.16-768.26 set forth the statutory framework for the estate of a decendent and qualifying survivors. In all wrongful death actions, the action is brought by the decendent’s personal representative who then recovers for the benefit of the decedent’s survivors and estate. We will assist you in setting up an estate if necessary so that the personal representative can obtain damages.
The term “survivor” under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act means the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and when partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services, any blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters.
The damages available for qualifying survivors include the value of lost support and services. The term “survivor” under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act means the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and when partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services, any blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters. The term also includes children born out of wedlock to a mother, but not a child born out of wedlock to a father unless the father has recognized a responsibility for the child’s support.
The surviving spouse is also able to recover for the loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection, and for mental pain and suffering from the date of the injury.
Minor children of the decedent (children under 25 years of age), and all children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse, may recover for lost parental companionship, instruction, guidance and for mental pain and suffering from the date of the injury.
Each parent of a deceased minor child may recover for mental pain and suffering from the date of the injury, and each parent of an adult child may recover for mental pain and suffering if there are no other survivors.
Medical or funeral expenses may be recovered by the survivor who has paid them.
The decedent’s personal representative may recover for the decedent’s estate the loss of earnings of the deceased from the date of the injury to the date of death, less lost support of survivors excluding contributions in kind. Loss of the prospective net accumulations of an estate which might reasonably have been expected may be recovered under the following circumstances:
- If the decedent’s survivors include a surviving spouse or lineal descendants;
- If the decedent is not a minor child, there are no lost support and services and there is a surviving parent.
The decedent’s personal representative may recover for the decedent’s estate medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent’s injury or death that have become a charge against his or her estate or that were paid by or on behalf of the decedent except for expenses that have been paid for by a survivor.
In cases where the injuring party’s actions were intentional, reckless, or grossly negligent, a court may award punitive damages. These damages can sometimes be significantly more than an award for compensatory damages, as the purpose of punitive damages is to punish the tortfeasor (the offending party) and/or discourage similar behavior in the future.
Some of the most common wrongful death cases result from the following:
At Burnett Wilson Reeder, we have experience in dealing with these types of cases and understand that these cases deserve the utmost care and attention. Please keep in mind, there are important deadlines that must be met in order to qualify under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act. Please contact our wrongful death attorneys to learn more about your legal options and to set up a free consultation.