Losing a loved one as a result of someone else’s carelessness or wrongdoing is a particularly unique emotional pain. Losing anyone is utterly painful, of course. But when the loss was avoidable, the pain can seem to blend into anger and back – over and over again. It is typically some type of accident that brings on such an unexpected death. And while loved ones are still in a state of shock over learning of the accident, they must also deal with difficult questions surrounding the circumstances of the death. Let our compassionate, seasoned lawyer help to ease your stress, confusion, and pain at chaotic times like this.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Florida Statutes section 768.19 states that when a person’s death:
- “is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract” of another person, and
- that wrongful act would have entitled the injured person to sue for damages if they had lived,
- then there is a cause of action for wrongful death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Florida law requires a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate to file a wrongful death claim. The decedent may have appointed a personal representative in their will, or one can be appointed by the courts. But this representative is filing on behalf of the surviving family members, which are typically the immediate family and include parents, spouses, or children. But if the deceased left no immediate family, then siblings, grandchildren, and other relatives can recover.
What Types of Damages Are Awarded in Wrongful Death Cases?
Medical Bills: Oftentimes the deceased person may have spent time in a hospital or incurred other medical expenses prior to their death. These bills can pile up, leaving the survivors with a financial mess. A wrongful death claim can assist loved ones by covering the costs for these types of medical expenses.
Funeral and Burial Expenses: Any costs associated with the funeral, burial, or cremation of the deceased can be recovered as well.
Loss of Income / Financial Support: If the deceased financially supported anyone – from children to parents and the like – then those individuals are entitled to receive compensation for the financial hardship that the death has wrought. This amount takes into consideration the average number of working years that would have been left in the deceased’s life (but for the wrongful act of the defendant), and the average amount of income that the deceased would have earned during their remaining working years.
Loss of Services: If the deceased performed tasks that enriched the lives of his or her loved ones, then these are factored into the award as well. For instance, if Joe dies and leaves behind an elderly mother who depended on him to fetch her groceries, shovel her driveway in the winter, mow her lawn in the summer, and tend to other necessities that helped her survive, then his mother is entitled to recover for the value of these services that she will no longer get from her son.
Loss of Consortium: Loss of consortium is often recoverable by the spouse. This term refers to not only the loss of the marital sexual relationship, but also the intimacy and companionship of the marital relationship as a whole.
Emotional Pain and Suffering: This one is fairly self-explanatory. The death of a loved one, particularly an unexpected one, can leave the survivors grieving for years. And when that pain was caused by someone’s negligence or worse, then it can be compensated.
What Types of Events Can Qualify
Any type of accident can lead to death and therefore to a wrongful death claim. The key factor is that the accident must have been caused by someone else’s negligent or wrongful act. Types of incidents include, but are not limited to:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Slip and Falls
- Defective Products
- Insufficient Security at an Event
- Medical Malpractice
- Construction site accident
- Accidents on the job (besides construction)
This is by no means an exhaustive list, as there is almost an infinite variety of accidents or circumstances that could lead to a wrongful death claim. Speaking to a knowledgeable Deerfield Beach wrongful death lawyer is the only way to know for sure if you have a solid case.
Contact an Experienced Deerfield Beach Wrongful Death Lawyer to Discuss Your Options
Dealing with the death of a loved one is one of the hardest things we must do in this life. And when that death was premature and due to someone’s negligence or wrongful conduct, you need an advocate who is there for you and your family. Let us help you pick up the pieces by contacting the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld P.A. Our Deerfield Beach wrongful death lawyers can help alleviate your stress during this most difficult time, and we can take care of the legal details so you have time to heal. Give our office a call or contact us online to schedule your free, no-obligation case evaluation today.