If a loved one has died due to the negligence or recklessness of another party, you may feel compelled to file a wrongful death claim and seek compensation. Engaging a Pensacola personal injury lawyer is a wise decision when moving forward.
A wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury claim; had the person survived they would have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person or persons responsible for their injuries. In a wrongful death claim, the family of the victim will file the claim to recover damages against the person or persons responsible.
Under the legal definition of wrongful death in Florida, a wrongful death occurs when a person or entity causes another person’s death by a “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty.”
Wrongful death claims can be difficult to navigate, making it essential to have a personal injury lawyer to help you through the process. As such, we feel that you should consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as you are able. Your lawyer will advise you on what evidence to collect or preserve and any associated deadlines for filing. They will also speak with insurance companies or other responsible parties.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims
Any accident or incident where a wrongful death was caused by the negligence of another party may be eligible for a wrongful death claim. Some examples of wrongful death claims might be:
- Trucking accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Other Auto accidents
- Slip And Fall accidents
- Product liability
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
The personal representative of the deceased victim is the person that files the wrongful death claim on behalf of the family. Usually, the personal representative is a spouse or an adult child. If the deceased person had a last will, a personal representative may be named in the will or a beneficiary named in the will may become the personal representative.
If there is no personal representative named in the will, all remaining beneficiaries of the estate will need to agree on one representative to file the wrongful death claim. The Court can appoint a personal representative if there is no agreement or if a will does not exist.
With few exceptions, any claim must be filed within two years from the date of death.
Steps in a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida
The personal representative must obtain an order from the local court in Florida that will authorize him or her to act on behalf of the estate. This is something a personal injury lawyer can help with and is the first step. Once authorization is received, a wrongful death claim can be filed. Similar to a personal injury claim, the parties involved will be notified that a claim is being filed to recover damages.
Damages to Recover in a Wrongful Death Claim
There are two different, but related, damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death claim: wrongful death action and survival action.
Wrongful Death Action
Recoveries for wrongful death action focus on the surviving family members or beneficiaries. This is to compensate for the economic loss caused by the death of the deceased and any future earnings the deceased may have contributed to the family had he or she lived.
Under Florida law, only specific family members, such as a spouse, child, or parent, are eligible to recover certain types of compensation. For other types of compensation, such as estate administrative costs or medical bills, any beneficiaries can recover damages. Wrongful death claims may include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Hospital and medical expenses
- Nursing costs
- Estate administrative costs
- Lost wages and benefits the deceased would have contributed to the family
- Loss of love, support, comfort, guidance, and companionship
- Mental anguish
The types and amounts of damages recoverable in a claim will depend on the nature of the accident and the harms the surviving family members suffered.
These types of claims would be similar to what the deceased would have filed for if he or she had survived the accident. Survival action claims might include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Some of these claims, like pain and suffering or emotional distress, would be calculated from the date of the accident to the date of death.
One difference between wrongful death action and survival action is that a survival action is usually an extension of an existing claim made prior to the victim’s death. Another difference is that a survival action does not identify the death as a direct result of the injury for the compensation being sought.
To quantify the damages associated with a survival action, the courts may review factors such as the victim’s severity of pain, their duration of suffering, and their apprehension of impending death.
Wrongful death action is distributed directly to beneficiaries and is not subject to income tax in Florida. Survival action recoveries, on the other hand, are distributed to beneficiaries through the Estate and so are subject to inheritance taxes, estate, and income taxes.
An experienced personal injury attorney will assist the family in filing the claim and explain the damages to include in the claim filing documentation.
Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyer J.J Talbott Can Help Guide You
Losing a loved one is a tragic event. While no amount of money will make up for the loss of someone you cared about, damages and expenses recovered in a lawsuit can help to ease some of the financial burdens and get you the compensation you deserve.
Trying to navigate the Florida legal system can add extra stress and complications. Speak with experienced Pensacola personal injury lawyer J.J. Talbott. He understands the immense stress and the complexities involved in a wrongful death claim. J.J is a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer with over 20 years of experience handling wrongful death cases throughout Pensacola and the surrounding communities.
Contact our offices today to book your free consultation.