In Florida, if your loved one died due to the wrongful acts or negligence of another, then you may — depending on your relationship with the deceased — be entitled to recover damages for the various losses you sustained as a consequence of your loved one’s death. Florida wrongful death claims are governed by the Wrongful Death Act, which provides that a personal representative of the estate of the deceased may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of surviving family members who are entitled to recover pursuant to the Act.
For those unfamiliar with wrongful death claims, the recoverable damages can be somewhat difficult to understand. Let’s take a moment to discuss the nature and type of damages that may be available to you.
Survival Claims vs. Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death damages are not the same as survival damages.
The damages in a survival claim (for the pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, and various other losses sustained by the decedent’s estate) are recoverable only by the estate of the deceased. They are essentially damages meant to compensate the deceased — through their estate — for the injuries they personally sustained.
The damages in a wrongful death claim, by contrast, are recoverable by surviving family members of the deceased. They are essentially damages meant to compensate the surviving family member for the injuries and losses sustained as a result of the death itself. For example, the child of the deceased might be able to assert (as part of their wrongful death claim) damages that include the lost financial support of the deceased parent.
Wrongful Death Damages
So, what damages can you recover for wrongful death? Florida law entitles qualifying family members to recover for a diverse range of damages. These include, but are not necessarily limited to, damages for:
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses spent on the deceased
- Out-of-pocket burial and funeral expenses spent on the deceased
- Loss of support and services
- Support refers to monetary contributions and contributions in kind
- Services refers to labor-based contributions, such as domestic services and other daily tasks
- Loss of companionship and protection
- Loss of consortium (i.e., losses related to spousal companionship, such as marital love and sexual relations)
- Loss of parental guidance and instruction
- Pain and suffering
Let’s explore an example to help further illustrate a wrongful death claim for damages.
Suppose that you lose your father in a motor vehicle accident. This is substantial loss in many ways, both objectively and subjectively. Not only is the loss of your father a significant emotional and psychological burden that has led to an extended period of pain and suffering, but you were also being fully supported by your father as you pursued higher education.
When making a claim for wrongful death damages, you could seek damages that include the loss of extensive financial support provided by your father, as well as damages for the loss of companionship, the loss of parental guidance, instruction, and protection -- and of course the emotional suffering sustained as a result of the death itself.
Contact Randall Spivey to speak to a skilled Fort Myers wrongful death attorney at the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. He and his team will provide a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights.