When an individual dies as a result of the negligent or intentional actions of another, certain members of the deceased’s family may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party or parties. The wrongful death claim is a civil action seeking monetary damages as a form of compensation for loved ones who were financially and/or emotionally dependent upon the deceased.
Florida’s Wrongful Death Act is proscribed in the Florida Statutes, Secs. 768.16 - 768.26. If a loved one lost their life as a result of another's negligence, it is advisable to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney to discuss your options, including the pursuit of damages.
Under What Circumstances Can a Wrongful Death Action Be Brought?
As stated in Sec. 768.19, a wrongful death action can be brought when the death is caused by:
- A wrongful act
- Breach of contract or warranty
Who May Bring a Wrongful Death Action?
The decedent’s personal representative brings the action on behalf of the decedent’s survivors and the estate.
“The action shall be brought by the decedent’s personal representative, who shall recover for the benefit of the decedent’s survivors and estate all damages, as specified in this act, caused by the injury resulting in death.” Sec. 768.20
In cases where the decedent created a will and named a personal representative, the case can normally proceed promptly. Otherwise, the matter will be addressed in court, where the personal representative will be appointed.
Definition of a “Survivor”
The wrongful death statute defines a survivor as:
(1) “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. Sec. 768.18(1)
These definitions are specific but complex. They often need clarification and interpretation by an experienced wrongful death attorney.
Who May Pursue Compensation and What May They Pursue?
Various parties may pursue compensation in a wrongful death action. The potential beneficiaries and the decedent’s estate must be noted in the complaint, along with the relationship to the decedent.
- Surviving spouse – loss of companionship, loss of protection, mental pain and suffering
- Children – minor children (under age 25) may seek lost parental companionship, loss of instruction, loss of guidance, and pain and suffering
- Parents – parents of minor children may pursue compensation for mental pain and suffering. Parents of adult children can pursue mental pain and suffering in the event there are no other survivors.
- Survivors may pursue the value of present and future lost support and services.
- Funeral and burial expenses may be recovered by the survivor who paid for them.
- Punitive damages may be pursued in cases of intentional misconduct and/or gross negligence.
Attorney J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo Represents Miami and Florida Clients in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
It is obvious from reading the information above that a wrongful death lawsuit is complicated and requires the skill and attention of an experienced wrongful death attorney. If a loved one such as a spouse, child or parent lost their life due to the negligence or wrongful act of another party, the legal heirs have the right to pursue compensation in the form of damages.
Wrongful death suits are often brought against:
- manufacturers, engineers and distributors of defective and dangerous products
- automobile manufacturers and parts manufacturers
- employers who fail to provide a safe working environment
- drunk drivers who caused another's death
- individual(s) who murdered an innocent victim
- individuals who failed to act, such as a lifeguard who was busy chatting instead of watching the water
- property owners and management companies that fail to provide adequate security
- negligent drivers causing auto accident deaths
- hospitals that commit medical malpractice leading to death
- virtually any company or person that acted in a negligent manner or failed to act, causing the death of one or more individuals
Law Office of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. Offers a Complimentary Case Review
Attorney J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo and the team at The Law Office of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A., offer a complimentary, no obligation case review for clients who lost a loved one and would like to know more about pursuing justice and compensation in a wrongful death action. There are no legal fees unless there is a recovery.
You can reach Miami Wrongful Death Attorney J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email J.P. directly at [email protected].