When a loved one dies due to someone else’s negligence, surviving family members are entitled to compensation for their losses. These losses can be far-reaching, not only affecting daily experiences, but also finances due to the loss of income, emotional health and well-being, and quality of life.
The law governing these claims in Florida is quite complex. Florida’s Wrongful Death Act has very narrow definitions as to who a ‘survivor’ is and is not. The section of the Florida Statutes entitled Wrongful Death contains none of the definitions of who a survivor is and how a survivor is defined. Rather, the definition of survivor is found under the General Negligence Statute nearly at the bottom in §768, where survivors are defined as follows:
- “Survivors” means the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and, when partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services, any blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters. It includes the child born out of wedlock of a mother, but not the child born out of wedlock of the father unless the father has recognized a responsibility for the child’s support.
- “Minor children” means children under 25 years of age, notwithstanding the age of majority.
- “Support” includes contributions in kind as well as money.
- “Services” means tasks, usually of a household nature, regularly performed by the decedent that will be a necessary expense to the survivors of the decedent. These services may vary according to the identity of the decedent and survivor and shall be determined under the particular facts of each case.
- “Net accumulations” means the part of the decedent’s expected net business or salary income, including pension benefits, that the decedent probably would have retained as savings and left as part of her or his estate if the decedent had lived her or his normal life expectancy. “Net business or salary income” is the part of the decedent’s probable gross income after taxes, excluding income from investments continuing beyond death, that remains after deducting the decedent’s personal expenses and support of survivors, excluding contributions in kind.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE SURVIVOR DIES?
If a survivor dies before a final judgment can be entered, Florida Statutes §768.24 limits the survivor’s damages as follows:
A survivor’s death before final judgment shall limit the survivor’s recovery to lost support and services to the date of his or her death. The personal representative shall pay the amount recovered to the personal representative of the deceased survivor.
Proving the extent of the economic damages in a wrongful death case often requires the testimony of an experienced and competent economist to determine the amount of lost wages, household services and other factors such as reducing sums to present value in order to determine what the net accumulations are.
CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED WRONGFUL DEATH ATTORNEY
Aronfeld Trial Lawyers has assembled a comprehensive network of over 1,000 experienced expert consultants and witnesses who are qualified to assist us in representing families who have lost members due to the carelessness of others. We understand that families are literally destroyed in wrongful death cases. Our team of lawyers, nurses, paralegals, private investigators, experts, consultants and videographers are devoted to helping survivors.
We strive to ensure that families are cared for to the maximum extent of the law. We will help navigate the family through the legal process with compassion while relentlessly protecting their rights utilizing our decades of experience and resources. Wrongful death lawsuits are actions, based on the Florida’s Statute §768.21and only allows certain close relatives of a person who was injured and died as a result of a wrongful act to recover for lost financial and emotional support. There are limited legal rights that victims have in these circumstances and immediate legal consultation is critical in order to obtain justice. Contact our experienced Florida wrongful death lawyers for a free consultation.