When a person dies because of the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters, the victims' "survivors" may be able to bring a legal action to recover compensation for damages under Florida's Wrongful Death Act (Florida Statutes 768.16-768.26). The damages available to survivors, including for mental pain & suffering, loss of the decedent's companionship and protection, past and future loss of support and services, and the payment of medical and funeral expenses, serve two important societal functions: (1) Provide some financial support to those who have been hurt by the loss; and (2) deter future negligent conduct.
The Wrongful Death Act applies to the loss of life arising out of medical malpractice, nursing home abuse and negligence, car & truck accidents, defective products, and premise accidents. Depending on the circumstances, it may also apply to work related accidents.
Important Definitions & Considerations:
- "Survivors" 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. It includes the child born out of wedlock of a mother, but not the child born out of wedlock of the father unless the father has recognized a responsibility for the child's support.
- "Minor children" means children under 25 years of age, notwithstanding the age of majority.
- "Net accumulations" means the part of the decedent's expected net business or salary income, including pension benefits, that the decedent probably would have retained as savings and left as part of her or his estate if the decedent had lived her or his normal life expectancy. "Net business or salary income" is the part of the decedent's probable gross income after taxes, excluding income from investments continuing beyond death, that remains after deducting the decedent's personal expenses and support of survivors, excluding contributions in kind.
- The Wrongful Death Action shall be brought by the decedent's personal representative, who shall recover for the benefit of the decedent's survivors and estate all damages.
- Each survivor may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent's injury to her or his death, with interest, and future loss of support and services from the date of death and reduced to present value.
- The surviving spouse may also recover for loss of the decedent's companionship and protection and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.
- Minor children of the decedent, and all children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse, may also recover for lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.
- Each parent of a deceased minor child may also recover for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury. Each parent of an adult child may also recover for mental pain and suffering if there are no other survivors.
- Loss of earnings of the deceased from the date of injury to the date of death, less lost support of survivors excluding contributions in kind, with interest. Loss of the prospective net accumulations of an estate, which might reasonably have been expected but for the wrongful death may also be recovered.
Disputes over issues such as fault (for causing the accident), the definition of "survivor" under the Act, and the amount of damages recoverable are common. Lawyers, insurance adjusters, judges and juries wrestle with these issues on a daily basis. Damage issues include:
- Expenses associated with the death, such as medical and funeral bills
- Lost benefits, such as insurance, from the death
- Loss of inheritance from an untimely death
- Pain, suffering or mental anguish suffered by the survivor of the decedent
- Loss of companionship, care or protection
- Punitive damages, which are intended to punish wrongdoers and prevent them from harming others
Contact us toll-free at 866-785-GALE or email now to for a free confidential consultation to learn your rights under Florida's Wrongful Death Act. Our firm accepts these cases on a contingency basis, which means that our clients pay no no fees or costs until we win the case.
Our offices are conveniently located in Miami Shores Village, minutes from I-95 and Biscayne Boulevard. Parking is free. We are available after hours and on weekends, and will travel to your home, the hospital, or nursing home.