Many states in the United States, as well as Florida, have laws that permit beneficiaries to file a suit and get compensated for the wrongful death of the decedent. This statute is authoritative to receiving compensation for individuals who have had a close relative die because of the negligence of someone else.
What is a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death claim is basically a public lawsuit in which a family member takes legal action against another individual or firm in order to hold them responsible for the death of their family member caused by their negligence.
The Statute 768.19 in Florida precisely states that “when a person’s death is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default or breach of contract or warranty,” the family member of the dead individual may file such a claim. In line with the statute, the cause of action of a wrongful death in Florida must depend on the following:
- Conduct that sums to a negligence, wrongful act, default, or breach of contract or warranty;
- The cause of action that depends on the conduct that must have led to the death of the decedent; and
- Such conduct must have entitled the individual affected to make an action and claim damages if death had not happened.
The third part represents the proposal that the decedent would have had an original cause of action to the wrongful death if he or she is not dead as result of the wrongful conduct.
Examples of Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed because of several different circumstances including:
- Substandard or mislabeled products
- Vehicle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Factory hazards
- Deliberate criminal actions.
Wrongful Death Due to Product Liability or Mislabeling
An example is when a piece of machinery breakdowns and then somebody gets hurt and later dies because of that. There are several cases of wrongful death caused by jet ski accidents, in which the jet ski doesn’t have appropriate safety equipment. There are several thousands of claims that are filed against manufacturers every year as a result of the inappropriate labeling of products and lack of provision of direct warnings of potential hazards or identified risks. For instance, Johnson & Johnson has been the matter of continuing litigation because of the connection between ovarian cancer and talc powder which has supposedly caused deaths of customers. The main thing is when producers manufacture and sell dangerous products to the population, they must be held responsible.
Auto Accident Fatality
An additional example is a vehicle accident where a person sustains a casualty as a result of the negligence shown by someone else. This type of situation whereby wrongful death auto accident lawsuit filed is associated with unfocused driving, driving carelessly, over speeding, driving while weakened along with casualty claims associated with dangerous road conditions and construction on the highway.
Usually, an accident re-constructionist is consulted to support a legal team in a vehicle accident death case. The re-constructionist will determine the actual way the injury led to the death of the person, which is usually far more difficult than it seems. Such professional demands a lot of money but well worth their charge because of the experience in indicating the source of a specific car crash and in what way it causally led to the injuries sustained from such accident. It is important to avoid law organizations that don’t have the monetary resources to pay an accident re-constructionist or lack the means to recognize the importance of employing one.
Wrongful Death Through Medical Malpractice
Wrongful death lawsuit can also be filed as part of medical malpractice claims, for instance, when a doctor or another health professional prescribes medicine without reviewing a patient’s pre-existing ailment, and the patient dies consequently. Wrongful death lawsuit can be filed against such medical doctor or health institution for offering services that are not up to the standard of care anticipated from such doctor or health expert. There are also claims relating to natal related injuries leading to the death of the baby or mother. Sometimes a physician may not diagnose an illness such as fetal pain, gestational diabetes, maternal infections, hypertension or the presence of other conditions which can make normal delivery problematic. Therefore, the resultant medical malpractice action will concentrate on the doctor’s (or health professional’s) failure to detect a disorder. Such negligence can be an outcome of conditions such as developmental interruptions in the baby, cerebral palsy and more complicated injuries including death.
Persons Allowed to File a Wrongful Death Claim and Timeline to File
According to the Wrongful Death Act in Florida, a close relative or family of the deceased can file the wrongful death lawsuit. Who the person will be is determined by the dead individual’s will or any other similar document. In situations where the individual died without a will, or similar document, and did not create an estate plan, the person that can file the claim will be determined by the court of law under the jurisdiction of where the individual was living. These claims are usually filed on behalf of the estate and the individual’s living relatives. The individual’s family members who will be eligible to receive the claim include the individual’s partner, kids, and parents or any other close relative or adoptive kids who are “partially or exclusively dependent on the deceased for sustenance or assistance.”
According to Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, a person can file a wrongful death claim if they are related to the dead individual as a:
- Dependent family member
- Child born outside the marriage of the mom or dad (if it can be identified that the dad or mum has accepted responsibility for taking care of the child)
The law in Florida also stated that when these claims can be filed. This is known as the statute of limitations. If the statute of limitations is passed, it won’t be possible to file a lawsuit and all legal rights related to the filing of a lawsuit for a wrongful death are dismissed. That time is 2 years in Florida. Although, that time can be changed for certain reasons and conditions.
If a wrongful death suit is settled before trial, the court of law can assign guardian ad litem and carry out a different court hearing to accept the compensation on behalf of the minor offspring. Usually, parties representing the complainants and respondents along with any guardian ad litem will appear at the court hearing.
Damages that can be Awarded According to the Wrongful Death Statute
The law in Florida also sets forth certain classes of damages that can be approved under the Wrongful Death Statute. The law stated that both the living family members and the estate can receive the damages. The living family members can recover damages equivalent to the worth of assistance and services the late individual had provided to the surviving family member, loss of company and guidance given to the family member, psychological and emotional agony and suffering in situations where a kid is lost, and also settlement for any medical and funeral expenditures any close relative has paid for the dead individual. The person’s estate can accept compensations for lost wages, profits, and other earnings, this includes the possible future incomes as well, medical and funeral costs that were provided by the family, and the money the family could rationally have been expected to get if the dead individual is alive.
Also, partners naturally have claims for the lost company of the deceased individual and for that partner’s emotional upset that was caused by the death of their spouse. The deceased’s minor offspring can also be given damages for the gone benefits of their connection with the dead father or mother, including comfort and sustenance. The only situations in which parents can recover include when their kid was still a minor and exactly for their emotional upset and the lost connection with the kid. Parents of grownup kids cannot usually recover in several situations.
In some cases, where there is deliberate, careless, and mean conduct, disciplinary damages may also be given to the surviving family members. This disciplinary compensation is known as punitive damages, which were made to punish a certain conduct, even though there is a limit to the sum of punitive damages that can be awarded.