Determining Damages After A Wrongful Death

Florida enacted a set of laws pertaining to the types of damages survivors can pursue after the wrongful death of a loved one. The laws are referred to as the Florida Wrongful Death Act (Fl. Stat. §§768.16-768.26). The knowledge of legitimate causes of action and the pursuit of compensation for damages resulting from a wrongful death represent an extremely complex area of law practice — which under no circumstances should be entrusted to inexperienced attorneys.

When the life of a loved one is tragically and abruptly ended due to the negligence or malpractice of another, the lives of those left behind are forever changed. Someone or something caused the untimely death and the family needs to turn to compassionate, caring attorneys in its time of need. To see if you can file a complaint for negligence to recover damages because of a wrongful death, contact our skillful attorneys today to determine if:

  1. A legal duty was owed to the person who died, such as the duty to operate a motor vehicle in a lawful and safe manner.
  2. There was a breach of that legal duty by the tortfeasor, or at-fault party, i.e., a citation was issued for careless driving or another traffic violation.
  3. The death of the individual was directly caused by the negligence of the tortfeasor.
  4. There are damages to the survivors as a result of the death of the individual.

The Florida Wrongful Death Act clearly outlines the individuals eligible to file a survivor's claim to seek damages, both economic and noneconomic, for the loss of a loved one. At VanNess & VanNess, P.A., our experienced and compassionate litigators represent surviving family members after a wrongful death. Whether we prevail in your case through the courts or negotiate a favorable settlement, you could be entitled to monetary compensation associated with the tragic loss of your loved one.

Understanding Economic And Noneconomic Damages

You may not know that only one claim can be filed for wrongful death. The wrongful death claim is filed by the court-appointed personal representative of the estate who then acts on behalf of all interested parties. The personal representative must agree to make proper distribution to the interested parties.

The interested parties in a wrongful death claim, in order of priority, are the surviving spouse, minor or dependent children and dependent parents, excluding all other parties. If there is no surviving spouse, children or dependent parents, the next of kin will be considered a party or parties in interest. Each survivor may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the victim's injury until his/her death and future loss of support and services.

According to Fla. Stat. §736.21, two types of damages are considered when seeking compensation for a wrongful death claim, known as economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include the loss of earnings from the date of injury causing the death until the expiration of the decedent's work-life expectancy, the loss of retirement benefits, the loss of money or gifts to family members that can be documented, along with the loss of services, and reimbursement of burial expenses to the party paying those expenses.

Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering; mental anguish; loss of companionship, comfort, society, protection and consortium suffered by a surviving spouse; lost parental companionship, instruction, guidance, and mental pain and suffering from the date of injury for a minor child, or for all children if there is no surviving spouse. Each parent of a deceased minor child may also recover for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury, as can each parent of an adult child if there are no other survivors.

Discuss Your Case With An Experienced Attorney

To learn more about the process of pursuing a lawsuit and determining damages after a wrongful death, please contact VanNess & VanNess, P.A., as soon as possible. There is a two-year statute of limitations for filing wrongful death claims in Florida, so it is essential to seek legal counsel right away. Call us at 352-436-4333 or toll free at 866-697-6221, or send us a confidential message online. We have offices in Crystal River and Lake Mary, and our wrongful death and personal injury lawyers serve clients throughout central Florida and the entire state.