How Does a Wrongful Death Claim Work?
If your loved one has recently passed away because of the recklessness or irresponsibility of another person, then you may have a wrongful death claim.
A wrongful death claim arises when someone is killed due to the intentional or unintentional acts of another person.
Florida law specifically states that the intent of the wrongful death statue is to shift the monetary burden from the victim’s family to the wrongdoer.
However, only certain people can assert a wrongful death claim on their loved one’s behalf.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
In order to sue for wrongful death, several requirements must be met.
- Your loved one’s death was a direct result of the actions (or inactions) of another person, business, or other entity.
- The death of your loved one has affected (injured) surviving family members.
- The death of your loved one has resulted in monetary damages.
If your loved one would have had a personal injury lawsuit if they survived, then a wrongful death suit is likely an available option.
As a survivor, you are stepping into your loved one’s shoes to assert their rights for them where they cannot. For many, this is both an honor and a duty that they owe to the memory of their loved one.
In addition, the death of a loved one can put severe financial strain on the survivors. This burden includes not only funeral expenses, but also lost wages that would have supported dependent family members. A wrongful death lawsuit can help ease this burden in many situations.
Who Can Assert the Deceased’s Rights?
Even though you may be related to the victim, you may not be able to assert their rights. Instead, Florida law specifically states who can take on this responsibility.
The decedent’s “personal representative” must bring the case on behalf of all of the victim’s survivors and estate.
The decedent’s estate will actually appoint the personal representative. Usually, this representative is the victim’s spouse, but it could be other relatives as well.
Only those who are survivors are eligible for compensation under Florida’s wrongful death statue.
- Other blood relatives who were partially or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services (this also includes adoptive brothers and sisters)
- Child out of wedlock of the mother but not the child out of wedlock of the father unless the father was legally recognized as providing this child’s support
It is important to point out that Florida law specifically states that minor children can recover.
However, the definition of a minor child under the wrongful death statute is any child under the age of 25, regardless of what the actual age of majority is at the time of death.
My Loved One Was Killed At Work. How is That Situation Different?
If your loved one was killed at work, the Florida workers’ compensation system may provide the spouse and dependents with death benefits.
Death benefits include compensation for the loss of earning capacity. That is, the amount that the victim would have earned during their lifetime.
Death benefits under the workers’ compensation system will only reach $150,000, and will vary depending on the victim’s wage at the time of death.
Relatives can also receive an additional $7,500 reimbursement for funeral and related expenses.
It is possible to receive additional benefits outside of the workers’ compensation by filing a wrongful death case. Each situation is different and it will take a skilled attorney to evaluate your potential legal options.
Getting Legal Help
If you have experienced the death of a loved one, speak to a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney like those at the Leifer Law Firm.
We can help you determine what kind of rights you may have. We understand that losing a loved one is difficult, but sometimes a wrongful death suit can help ease the related financial burdens.
Give us a call at 561-395-8055 as soon as possible.