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Florida Wrongful Death Laws

If you have a close family member that has been killed due to the negligence of another, you may be able to sue under Florida’s wrongful death statute. Wrongful death laws are complicated and there are many limits on who can recover damages and under what circumstances. This article gives a brief overview and explanation of wrongful death and Florida’s laws around the subject.

What is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death occurs when the negligence or wrongful acts of one person causes the death of another. Negligence means that someone has a duty of care to another and he or she acted unreasonably and breached that duty of care. It also requires that the breach of that duty caused damages. For example, all drivers owe all the other drivers on the road a duty to drive safely and pay attention to the road. If a driver is texting while driving, then he or she is clearly breaching the duty to drive safely and pay attention to the road. If the driver texting causes an accident that kills someone, then the driver’s negligent act would be the cause of the death. Therefore, someone may be able to sue the negligent driver for wrongful death.

It is important to remember that wrongful death is an action brought by the family members of the deceased person for their own loss. It is not standing in the shoes of the victim and suing on his or her behalf. That would be referred to as a survival action; this is an action to recover damages for the harms suffered by the deceased before death, and differs from a wrongful death claim.

Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is a civil claim where one party would file a claim against the other party. Therefore, the state and criminal law is not involved in wrongful death suits; however, evidence of criminal charges and convictions can be used to prove negligence or wrongful acts in a wrongful death suit.

One of the biggest limiting factors in wrongful death is the people who are able to sue. In Florida, there are two categories of people who can sue: the estate; and family members, including spouses, parents, children; and any family members who are financially dependent on the deceased.

What Damages Can Be Recovered In a Wrongful Death Suit?

There are several kinds of damages that family members can sue for in a wrongful death action.

  • Support and Services – Support refers to the financial support that the deceased would have brought into the family if he or she did not die. Support also refers to the in kind contributions the deceased would have made. Services are tasks that the deceased would have performed had he or she survived.
  • Mental Pain and Suffering – Certain categories of people can also recover for the mental pain and suffering caused by the death of their loved one.
  • Medical or Funeral Expenses – If family members were responsible for the medical or funeral expenses of someone who was wrongfully killed, they may also be able to recover the costs associated with these expenses.

However, keep in mind there are limits on who can sue for what and when.

Tampa Wrongful Death Attorneys

If a loved one has been killed due to the negligence of another, you need to talk to a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to make sure you have the greatest chance for recovery. Our experienced wrongful death attorneys at the Romero Law Firm in Tampa, Florida can help you with your wrongful death claim.

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