Losing a loved one is hard for any Florida resident, but it’s a different pain category when the loss is due to wrongful death. Unfortunately, there is no way to get your loved one back, but you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These are the laws in the state.
Understanding wrongful death
Wrongful death occurs when a person dies because of someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional violence. Unlike criminal homicide cases, wrongful death is a civil action. If a lawsuit against the liable party is successful, the victim’s surviving family members recover compensation for various damages.
Florida’s wrongful death laws
In Florida, the decedent’s representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit on the family’s behalf. The statute of limitations for filing is four years from the date of the victim’s death.
Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit include both economic and non-economic damages. Monetary damages include medical expenses while the victim was still alive, funeral and burial costs, lost wages and earning capacity. Non-economic damages include the decedent’s pain and suffering before their death and those suffered by the surviving family members: loss of companionship, loss of consortium, loss of support and guidance and mental anguish.
In some cases, the victim’s survivors may also recover punitive damages if a wrongful death claim is successful. The court might do that not to compensate the family; if the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious in causing the death, punitive damages might be awarded to punish them.
You have cause to file a wrongful death claim if your loved one would have been able to file a personal injury claim if they had lived.