Understanding The Wrongful Death Statutes In Florida
The state of Florida has published statutes regarding wrongful death, more commonly referred to as “Florida’s Wrongful Death Act” (Sections 768.16-768.26). It contains the definition of a wrongful death as well as other information regarding the issue. This piece of legislation states that a wrongful death is any death that has been caused by any breach of contract or warranty, default, negligence, or wrongful act. If a loved one has died as a result of any of these acts and another individual was responsible, you can sue them.
Like most of the other states in the US, Florida has interpretive laws which clearly state the right to action and recovery in a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the surviving family members. The following is a brief outline of the different sections contained in the Wrongful Death Act:
- 768.16 – states that the Wrongful Death Act is comprised of Sections 768.16-768.26 and cites history references
- 768.17 – discusses the legislative intent of the policy
- 768.18 – defines minor children as any child under the age of 25, net accumulations as finances and income of the decedent had he or she survived, services or household tasks that the decedent normally would have performed, support in the form of money or contributions in kind, and survivors as the children, parents, and spouse of the decedent.
- 768.19 – refers to the decedent’s surviving family member’s right of action and the recovery of benefits and damages
- 768.20 – the parties involved in the wrongful death legal action
- 768.21 – defines damages and how they may be awarded
- 768.22 – the amounts that are awarded to the estate and the survivors in the verdict are to be stated separately
- 768.23 – the court protects benefits awarded to incompetents and minors
- 768.24 – a survivor’s amount of recovery will be limited should they die prior to the judgment in the case
- 768.25 – covers settlements approved by the courts
- 768.26 – payment of wrongful death lawyer’s fees and related litigation expenses
It goes without saying that the loss of a loved one, whether they are actually a blood relative or not, can be a very emotional and stressful experience. Granted, most of us have gone through this at some point in our lives.
But when a loved one’s death results from another person’s actions or negligence, the decedent’s survivors want justice and rightfully so. Unfortunately, the right to recovery is limited to specific survivors (discussed in Section 768.18 above) of the decedent under Florida’s wrongful death laws.
The purpose and intent of this is to ensure that the emotional and financial compensation is awarded who were the most directly affected by the individual’s death. Unfortunately, the Wrongful Death Act is oftentimes interpreted very liberally, hence the need for discussing these circumstances with an experienced wrongful death lawyer. He or she can evaluate your case and ultimately determine the proper course of legal action to pursue. They may also suggest an alternative to seeking justice for the decedent.
There is also a section in the Wrongful Death Act (768.21) that discusses the different types of damages that can be awarded in a lawsuit or settlement. This includes the loss of financial support (current and future) for the decedent’s dependents. Additionally, damages may include awards for emotional and psychological harm such as emotional distress, loss of companionship and/or protection, and of course, pain and suffering.
You can easily see that wrongful death cases can be extremely complex and not an issue that the deceased’s survivors should attempt handling without having an experienced wrongful death lawyer or legal firm on their side. It is the best option for seeing that the survivors are compensated fairly when they have lost a loved one. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you.