Families that have lost loved ones as a result of any kind of negligent or careless act (whether it be a car, truck or motorcycle accident, medical malpractice, or any other kind of incident) are often left reeling as a result of their tragic loss.
Once the shock of the loss wears off, and a sufficient time for grieving has passed, many family members have questions about to go about pursuing a claim for compensation for the loss of their loved one.
In some ways, claims involving tragic deaths are similar to traditional personal injury cases, but in many ways they are different.
For example, in both scenarios in order to prevail the Plaintiff must prove that someone else was at fault, and that the other person’s negligence or carelessness caused the death or injury. However, the damages aspect of a case involving a death is very different.
Claims involving negligent or careless acts that result in death are covered by several statute sections (created by the Florida Legislature) called – collectively – the Florida Wrongful Death Act. The Florida Wrongful Death Act controls exactly who can collect money when a family member is killed by a wrongful act in Florida.
1. The Florida Wrongful Death Act also controls what kinds of claims family members who have claims under the statute can collect for. The Florida Wrongful Death Act additionally controls exactly who can bring a claim on behalf of all of the family members.
As with many statutes drafted by lawmakers, the Florida Wrongful Death Act can be very confusing – even for many lawyers (and particularly those that don’t handle these cases often.)
2. Most people who consult with us are entitled to damages under two provisions of the Wrongful Death Act. Regardless of their familial relationship with the decedent, anyone that can prove that they were receiving “support and services” from the decedent can recover the reasonable value of those losses. An example might be a couple that was never married, but where the decedent was completely financially supporting his or her boyfriend or girlfriend. The boyfriend or girlfriend might have a claim for damages – if the loss could be proven.
3. The other kind of claim we usually see if a claim for emotional pain and suffering. Surviving spouses always have claims for pain and suffering under the Wrongful Death Act. Parents and children of the decedent may also have claims depending upon the existence or non-existence of a spouse, and age of the decedent and any children.
To be sure, there are other categories of damages that can be recovered under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, but these are the two categories that we see most often. As mentioned earlier, the statute can be very confusing and complicating to interpret. Many people elect to retain attorneys to assist them.
Most attorneys who handle Wrongful Death claims will pursue them on a contingency fee basis – meaning that no retainer or out-of-pocket is required at the beginning of the case in order to pay the attorney. The attorney will only get paid at the end of the case, and only if a monetary recovery is achieved.
Our firm handles the majority of our cases on a contingency fee basis.
If you have any questions regarding any aspect of a Florida Wrongful Death case, please call us at 407-254-4901. All consultations are 100% free and without obligation. Let us give you the answers you need.