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What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Under Florida Law?

Simply put, a wrongful death occurs under Florida law if a person dies as a result of a wrongful act or negligence of another person. Unfortunately however, this is where Florida law becomes a lot more complicated and complex.

What is a Wrongful Act or Negligence?

A wrongful act in Florida is an intentional act that will damage another person, either physically or emotionally. For example, taking a gun, aiming it at someone and then pulling the trigger is an obvious wrongful act.

Negligence occurs when someone fails to exercise the degree of reasonable care that is ordinarily expected of someone in order to minimize the risk of harm to someone else. For example, failing to post signs that a floor has just been mopped and is wet is typically seen as negligence, insomuch as a reasonable person would usually warn others through placement of a sign, so that others would know that the wet floor presented a danger to them.

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death Under Florida Law?

Here is where the law becomes complex. Florida law has carved out exceptions to the general rule as to who can sue for wrongful death in cases of medical malpractice. Going forward, the discussion will intentionally exclude medical malpractice until we discuss damages.

Those who can sue is governed by Florida’s Wrongful Death Act. First, only the personal representative of “survivors” or the estate of the decedent may sue under the law. Survivors are defined as:

  • The decedent’s (the person who died) spouse;
  • The decedent’s children;
  • The decedent’s parents;
  • The decedent’s blood relatives who were dependent on the decedent for support or services;
  • The decedent’s adoptive brothers and sisters; or
  • The decedent’s children born out of wedlock, if the decedent was a woman, or if the decedent was a man and had recognized a responsibility of support for children born out of wedlock.

What Are Some Damages That May Be Recoverable?

There are many types of damages that may be recoverable in a wrongful death case. They include damages for:

  • Loss of companionship and protection;
  • Mental pain and suffering;
  • Loss of support and services from the date of injury to the date of death;
  • Future loss of support and services from the date of death;
  • Medical and funeral expenses; and
  • Loss of parental companionship, instruction and guidance.

What Are Limitations On Recovery?

Florida has also carved out many exceptions as to whom can recover what. This is where we will discuss medical malpractice cases again. Some examples include:

  • If there was a surviving spouse, children over 25 may not recover for loss of parental companionship, instruction and guidance and mental pain and suffering.
  • In medical malpractice cases, adult children cannot recover for lost parental companionship or pain and suffering even if there was no surviving spouse.
  • In medical malpractice cases, parents of an adult (25 years old or greater) cannot recover for mental pain and suffering.

As you can tell, wrongful death lawsuits in Florida can be incredibly complex. This is even without mentioning intricacies such as divorce, estrangement and other complicating factors. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s actions, you do not have to navigate this alone. If you are in the Tallahassee area, please give the experienced legal professionals at Barrett, Fasig & Brooks a call today at either (866) 346-4186 or (850) 224-3310 to set up your initial consultation. While you can never be made whole after the wrongful death of a loved one, we can help you hold those responsible accountable for their actions and get the recovery you deserve.

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