Florida’s wrongful death statute contains complex rules full of exceptions and exclusions. This often results in those who are hurt deeply because of the death of a loved one being unable to recover in a wrongful death suit. There are some general guidelines to help you determine if you are entitled to bring a wrongful death suit.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Suit?
There are two categories of potential plaintiffs who may be entitled to recover in a wrongful death lawsuit. The first is the personal representative of the estate, and he or she is entitled to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party. The damages available to the personal representative of the estate are limited, and notably exclude pain and suffering. The second category of claimants in a wrongful death suit are the survivors of the deceased. One of the survivors may also be the personal representative of the estate, but survivors include the spouse and children of the deceased, the parents of the deceased, and any brothers or sisters who were at least partially dependent on the deceased for support or services. More significant damages are available to survivors, such as damages for loss of consortium and other non-economic damages.
There are Limits on Recovery Allowed by Children in Wrongful Death Actions
Children of any age in Orlando may recover damages for the loss of support and services of the deceased parent, beginning from the date of the deceased’s injury through the date of death. Minor children may also recover the loss of future support and services. If there is a surviving spouse, children over the age of 25 cannot recover damages for loss of parental companionship, loss of parental instruction and guidance, or pain and suffering. Adult children also cannot receive compensation for any of these categories if the wrongful death is as a result of medical malpractice.
There are Limits on Recovery Allowed by Parents in Wrongful Death Actions
If a child was age 25 or older when they died, then parents cannot recover damages for pain and suffering, unless there were no other survivors. Even if there are no other survivors, such damages cannot be recovered in medical malpractice cases. Parents of a child that dies under the age of 25 can bring a wrongful death action and recover the value of lost support and services, the value of future lost support and services, and any medical or funeral expenses of the deceased.
Other Factors that Complicate Wrongful Death Suits
There are many other complicating factors involving wrongful death lawsuits, especially when there are family law issues like intention to marry, intent to divorce, children born posthumously, and an entire host of other family law situations that can complicate wrongful death lawsuits.
What Does “Support” And “Services” Mean?
Support is defined under the wrongful death statute to include “contributions in kind as well as money.” Services are defined in the statute as “tasks, usually of a household nature, regularly performed by the decedent that will be a necessary expense to the survivors of the decedent. These services may vary according to the identity of the decedent and survivor and shall be determined under the facts of each case.” Support and services therefore mean the monetary value of the services you are able to prove the deceased would have provided to you. This usually requires expert testimony by an economist, and overall, these damages are not usually as valuable as damages for mental pain and suffering.