Losing a loved one suddenly and unexpectedly due to an accident is one of the most challenging experiences one can go through. Such a loss can have a lifelong impact on the affected family. While no amount of money can replace a loved one, a wrongful death claim can offer compensation to help the family deal with their losses and the consequences. When a loved one dies as a result of the negligence of another, whether it is from a car, truck, motorcycle, or bicycle accident, it can be challenging to understand the available remedies. Therefore, it’s crucial to seek the advice of an experienced wrongful death attorney in Jacksonville before pursuing a claim.
Apart from the grief, shock, and sadness that come with the loss of a loved one, families may also face unforeseen financial hardships such as medical bills, funeral expenses, and the deceased’s lost earnings. Under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, the measure of damages is based on the loss or harm to the survivors left behind, not on the loss experienced by the decedent.
Legal remedies for wrongful death lawsuits include compensation or reimbursement under the Wrongful Death Act, and the damages recoverable are set forth under Florida Statute 768.21. You may be entitled to compensation for the following types of damages:
Someone must take the place of the decedent to bring a wrongful death claim and that is the Personal Representative (PR) of the decedent’s estate. When deciding who may serve as the PR of an estate, Florida Statute 733.301 outlines a preference in the appointment that differs depending on whether the decedent died with a will (a testate estate) or without a will (an intestate estate). The statutes also outline who may not serve as a PR, such as a convicted felon, someone who is mentally or physically unable to perform the duties of a PR, or a person who is under the age of 18 (Florida Statutes 733.303). Regardless of who serves as the PR, that person has a fiduciary duty to all “survivors” under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act. A fiduciary duty involves behaving in a manner that is best for all the survivors, not just the PR.
Florida Statutes 768.18 defines who a survivor is under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act. While some categories of individuals are obvious (spouse, children, parents), there are others that might not be as obvious such as:
In all cases other than medical malpractice, when someone dies as a result of negligence, the decedent’s survivors; meaning the wife, children (minors and/or adults), and parents can bring claims for economic damages (medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of future earnings) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering, companionship, guidance).
The Medical Malpractice Exception found in Florida Statute 768.21(8) limits what survivors are eligible to recover as well as limits their recoverable damages. For example, if a 50-year-old unmarried woman with adult children is struck by a vehicle and dies at the scene of the accident, her PR can bring a wrongful death claim for the loss and harm to her survivors, in this case, her adult children. However, if that same unmarried woman dies on the operating table due to a doctor’s medical negligence, her adult children are barred from bringing a wrongful death action against the doctor.
Although money can never fill the void left by the loss of a loved one, a Jacksonville wrongful death attorney can ensure that you receive compensation for the financial consequences and your pain and suffering from this devastating loss. Contact us today to speak with an attorney at Rosenberg & Calvin, P.A., to discuss your case.