What is the Florida Wrongful Death Act & How is One Filed?

Someone Sitting Alone at SunsetIf you have lost a loved one as the result of another’s negligence, then you may be eligible for compensation in a wrongful death claim. In such a case, your claim will be subject to the statutes of the Florida Wrongful Death Act. This act allows for the recovery of damages in the case of your loved one’s death, provided someone else is to blame for their passing.

To receive compensation in a wrongful death claim, you will have to file in the appropriate court of law. When doing so, you’ll want the guidance and experience of a wrongful death attorney.

The Florida Wrongful Death Act

Section 768.19 of the Florida Statutes is called the Florida Wrongful Death Act. This act provides several grounds upon which a wrongful death action can be based. First of all, the act allows for the recovery of damages when someone’s wrongful act or negligence causes another’s death. In order to be eligible for compensation, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of the wrongful death.

To prove negligence under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, a plaintiff must show that:

  • the defendant owed a legal duty to the deceased;
  • the defendant failed to uphold that duty;
  • as a result of the defendant’s failure, the wrongful death was caused; and
  • the deceased’s estate and beneficiaries suffered losses as a result of the wrongful death.

It is important to note that, while many assume that a person’s actions can result in a wrongful death, a person’s failure to act can also result in a wrongful death. For example, if a patient is rushed to a hospital with a traumatic brain injury, and the doctors at that hospital neglect to treat that patient, and the patient dies as a result, then the hospital’s failure to treat the patient may be determined a negligent act.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

According to the Florida Wrongful Death Act, only the deceased individual’s personal representative can file a wrongful death claim. This personal representative must seek a recovery on behalf of each individual survivor. This representative must also represent claims by the deceased individual’s estate.

Under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, survivors that may make a claim after a Florida wrongful death include the deceased person’s:

  • spouse;
  • minor children (under the age of 25);
  • adult children (over the age of 25);
  • parents; and
  • blood relatives (in some cases, adoptive brothers and sisters).

Survivorship in these cases will be determined at the time of the wrongful death. The Florida Wrongful Death Act specifies exactly what type of damages each survivor may recover.

Recovering Damages Under the Florida Wrongful Death Act

Under The Florida Wrongful Death Act, survivors can recover the following damages, which account for:

  • the decedent’s medical expenses;
  • the decedent’s funeral and burial expenses;
  • the loss of support and services (such as child care and household chores);
  • the loss of companionship and protection;
  • the loss of parental companionship, instruction, and guidance; and
  • any mental pain or suffering that was caused by the wrongful death.

To understand these damages, and exactly which damages you may be entitled to under The Florida Wrongful Death Act, you can seek the guidance of an attorney. A wrongful death attorney can advise you in the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and help collect evidence to substantiate your wrongful death claim.