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EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE FLORIDA WRONGFUL DEATH ACT

They call it “Wrongful Death” because it means someone was killed before they should have died.  It was the fault of someone else.  A loved one may have died because of the act of a person, product, policy or corporation.

The death can be the result of a car or truck crash, a medical mistake, a violent crime, drowning,  or a serious fall.  Regardless of the cause, it leaves a family grieving because a human life was lost because of a mistake or intentional act. It is wrongful because it should not have happened.

In Florida, wrongful death is governed by a statute known as the Florida Wrongful Death Act.  This series of laws is what allows a death case to be brought by the survivors of the person who died. Nut there are complex requirements and limitations on what can be recovered in a case like this.  

Florida Wrongful Death Act explained

Florida Statutes Section 768 says that all wrongful death cases must be brought by the “personal representative” of the deceased person’s estate. The personal representative is someone who is appointed by a court to bring the case on behalf of the deceased’s estate. In Florida, the personal representative is decided by the person’s will (if they have one at the time they die) or the nature of the person’s relationship with the deceased.

Who can recover for a wrongful death is limited by the same statute.  That can also vary depending on the type of case that is being brought. For example, if a loved one dies because of medical malpractice, the only claims for mental pain and suffering for the death are those of a surviving spouse or a minor child (defined as under 25 years old for Wrongful Death Act purposes). In other cases, if there are no minor children, adult children can recover.

Statutory survivors (defined by the law) of a wrongful death may recover for their mental pain and suffering of the loss, lost support and services, loss of the deceased’s companionship and protection, lost parental companionship, instruction and guidance, and medical and funeral expenses when paid for by a survivor.

There are other economic claims that an Estate may make and recover such as loss of net accumulations and the funeral and medical expenses.

What is the purpose of Florida Wrongful Death Act

The purpose of the Wrongful death Act is to compensate survivors for the loss of support and services and emotional loss that was suffered.

Florida Wrongful Death Act
  • If a spouse dies (without surviving children, which is defined as being under age 25 for this law), they can recover loss of the deceased’s companionship and protection, mental pain and suffering, lost support and services, and medical/funeral expenses if paid by the spouse.
  • If a parent dies and there is a surviving spouse, the children under 25 at the time of death can recover their loss of support and services and parental companionship, instruction and guidance and mental pain and suffering.
  • If a child dies, parents may recover for their mental pain and suffering.
  • If there is no surviving spouse then adult children (over 25) can recover all of the above.

These are just a few examples of how Florida’s Wrongful Death Act allows for recovery of damages by families who have lost their loved ones.

Any wrongful death case requires an investigation as to what caused the death. All of the factors that go into a particular type of case (car crash, slip and fall, medical malpractice, violent crime/negligent security, defective product, boat or maritime accident, cruise ship mishap, nursing home abuse or neglect, etc.) would apply to the case.

The loss of a loved one can change a family forever. Changes in the family structure, emotional pain, lack of parental or spousal support, and financial losses can destroy the lives of the living. Being able to talk about these losses in a healthy way, and to grieve the death of someone you love, can help ease the loss and allow you to move to a healthier place.

Most of us have experienced some loss in our lives. Sometimes it is the natural course of life that someone dies, whether from old age or illness. It becomes tragic when the death is sudden, avoidable or violent.  

The death of a child is perhaps the most damaging loss that someone can suffer. Many parents can never recover from their child’s death. There are high divorce rates among couples who have lost children to untimely death. Neither can lean on the other for support when both are grieving.

Florida’s Wrongful Death Act is a way to recover for some of these losses  It requires a meritorious case (how that person was killed) to bring a wrongful death claim. There must be survivors as defined by the statute.  

What do you do when someone you love has been killed by a mistake or intentional act of another?

If you have lost someone due to the fault of another, contact an experienced trial lawyer who has handled and tried Florida wrongful death cases. It is important to find lawyers who understand the type and extent of your losses, assess the potential for a wrongful death case, and advise you on the best way to proceed.

At Leighton Law, P.A., we have a lot of experience recovering the maximum damages for wrongful death cases. Mr. Leighton received the 2015 “Hall of Fame Award for Wrongful Death” by the Daily Business Review for the $24.3 million verdict he won for one family. The firm has won many substantial and record-setting verdicts and settlements, including $8 million for the parents of a teenager tragically killed in a car crash.

When someone loses a spouse, parent or child, the loss is much deeper than just the legal loss. The emotional effects are felt for a lifetime. The changes to a family last generations.

Our work on behalf of families who have lost loved ones goes far beyond the courtroom. We regularly work with clients to help them obtain grief counseling and assist them in piecing their lives back together after such a tragic loss.

Leighton Law has the understanding and compassion to obtain the best recovery for families who have suffered such losses. It is our mission to help make families whole again after the death of a loved one, and we treat our clients as we would want to be treated. 

By understanding our clients’ losses and needs, our Miami and Orlando wrongful death attorneys can better fight for their rights in court and obtain some of the best verdicts and settlements in the country. A wrongful death is a tragedy, but you don’t necessarily have to suffer alone. We are on your side and committed to helping you explore all of your legal options.

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