Few things in life compare to the sudden loss of a family member or friend. Your daily life will permanently change in ways you have never imagined. During this difficult time, you may find it incredibly challenging to provide emotional and financial support for your surviving family.
What is a wrongful death lawsuit and what damages can I recover?
If you have a friend or a loved one who has died due to the negligent or intentional act of another, the survivors may have a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party. Florida’s Wrongful Death Act is a statute which sets forth those persons who can make a claim and the type of compensation they can recover.
A wrongful death lawsuit seeks compensation for the survivors, such as children and spouses, and for the estate itself. Wrongful death claims typically are made for pain and suffering, loss of companionship, lost earnings, and the value of lost support.
The Wrongful Death Act is found in Florida Statutes 768.16-768.26. Generally, it provides that a claim will be brought by a personal representative who seeks a recovery on behalf of the spouse, children, and parents of the deceased. Under certain circumstances, other “blood” relatives may also have a claim.
The statute of limitations for a Florida wrongful death action is two years from the date of death. Generally, if you fail to file a lawsuit by the deadline, your claim will be forever barred. However, as you might expect, there are exceptions to this rule. It is critical that you contact an attorney immediately to discuss the applicable deadlines and make sure you claim is properly preserved.
The following types of damages may be recovered:
- Lost support and services to survivors (the nature of the relationship to the deceased, probable future income of the deceased, and replacement value of lost support and services are considered)
- Surviving spouse’s lost companionship and protection, plus pain and suffering
- Minor children’s lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance, including pain and suffering (all children, not just minors, if there is no surviving spouse)
- Parents of deceased child may also claim damages for pain and suffering
- Medical and/or funeral expenses
It is important to contact an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. A good lawyer will want to immediately investigate the facts surrounding the death, including talking to witnesses, taking photographs, and hiring experts to inspect the scene and any vehicles or equipment that was involved.
If you have questions about the death of a loved one, call Jeff Murphy Law for a free consultation. Jeff will advise you of your legal rights and discuss whether it makes sense for you to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
I have the compassion, knowledge and experience to evaluate your case and answer important questions concerning your family’s welfare. I have practiced personal injury and wrongful death law for 24 years. I will help you understand your options and help you begin the process of managing your personal recovery during this difficult time. I will give you the personal attention you deserve and diligently pursue your rights to recover damages for your pain and suffering. I will prepare a strategy to achieve the best possible result for you and your family.