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Wrongful death statute in Florida

Funeral flowers on a tombWrongful death is not something anyone wants to deal with.  If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of being involved in filing a wrongful death lawsuit it will be helpful to know the statute.  Of course you will have an attorney handling your case, but it is wise to do your own homework on what to expect as well.

Florida’s Wrongful Death Act has provisions for two different categories where damages may be awarded.  The first category deals with the survivors of the decedent and what damages they may recover.  Survivors are defined under the Act as a spouse, children, parents or other blood relatives that may be dependent on the decedent for support.  The damages that a survivor may look to recover will include any lost support, loss of services, loss of protection, loss of companionship, loss of instruction, recovery of any medical expenses or funeral expenses if paid for by any survivor and mental pain and suffering.

When someone needs to file for damages regarding for support, they may do so in both money and property.  Damages regarding support would deal with any money now spent doing anything the decedent had previously done.  For example, if the decedent always prepared meals for a survivor, that survivor would be able to claim damages to pay for someone else to cook the meals.

The other category where damages are awarded is to the decedent’s estate.    An estate is considered the sum of everything the decedent owned during their life.   Most estates are left to beneficiaries in a will.  If no will exists, the beneficiaries are determined by the state of Florida.    An estate may only recover damages for the following reasons; any loss of net accumulations, any lost earnings from the decedent or any medical and/or funeral expenses.

Trying to determine an actual monetary settlement to award a survivor or estate is not easy.  A judge or jury must take into account how long the decedent might have naturally lived and how much support they would have provided.  Determining and financial reimbursement for services the decedent provided or reimbursement for medical and funeral expenses is fairly easy because those are finite amounts. The most difficult aspects of a wrongful death lawsuit to determine a financial settlement on are pain and suffering and loss of companionship.  As anyone who has gone through this terrible experience can tell you, you can’t put a dollar amount on a loved one’s life.