Wrongful death describes a claim or lawsuit filed against a person or corporation who were negligent or careless and caused the death of a family member. In Florida, the wrongful death statute sets forth the legal requirements, eligibility, and damages available.
Florida Wrongful Death Claims Can Be Complex
Under the law, when a person dies, he or she stops being recognized as a legal person or entity. Instead, an estate is created in the Probate Court to stand in the place of person who died. While some people think of the term “estate” as referring to only to wealthy individuals with large holdings of property or belongings, in the legal sense it simply means a legal interest in actual or expected property or money of the decedent.
Notably, a wrongful death claim can only be brought by a Personal Representative. The personal representative, also known as the “PR,” is appointed by the Probate Court. In Florida, the Personal Representative is not required to be a blood relative to the decedent, but is always required to act in the best interests of the estate and beneficiaries at all times. This prevents the PR from self-dealing or taking action which is adverse to the estate’s interests.
People who are eligible to receive money damages through the estate for the wrongful death are family members. Only surviving family members, including biological children, adopted children, and legally married spouses, are eligible to receive money from a wrongful death claim.
Sadly, this often means that an individual who is engaged to be married to the decedent is ineligible to become a wrongful death survivor for purposes of asserting a his or her own wrongful death damages claim. Non-relatives may, however, be eligible to receive proceeds from the estate separately when a Last Will and Testament designates specific individuals as beneficiaries for proceeds of the estate.
How Does a Wrongful Death Occur?
Similar to a personal injury claim, a wrongful death claim often beings when negligence caused the death. There are many examples of such careless acts causing wrongful death. A few common examples are listed here:
- car accident
- commercial vehicle accident
- motorcycle crash
- pedestrian stuck by vehicle
- scooter struck by a vehicle
- bicycle struck by vehicle
- traumatic brain injury sustained in a crash which causes death
- work injury
- construction accident
- defective product
- dangerous prescription drugs
- dangerous property conditions
There are, of course, many other forms of negligence which can lead to a wrongful death claim.
Compensation for Wrongful Death in Florida
Compensation in the form of money damages for wrongful death may include mental pain and suffering, value of lost services, lost income, loss of companionship, medical bills, and funeral and burial expense.
If you are a surviving family member whose loved one died as the result of carelessness or negligence, then you may have a legal claim for wrongful death compensation. In Southwest Florida, including Collier County, Lee County, Hendry County, Charlotte County, Hendry County, and surrounding communities, contact Fort Myers wrongful death lawyer David Harris, for a free consultation. David understands losing a loved one, and vigorously pursues maximum financial compensation for your harms and losses. The initial consultation is free and without obligation 888-294-8090.