Florida Wrongful Death & Probate Attorneys
Compassionately Representing Clients Since 2002
Car crashes, motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, and other tragic events form the basis of many personal injury lawsuits in Florida. When death is involved, these events usually include the filing of a claim for damages resulting from the victim’s wrongful death against the negligent party. Damages based upon wrongful death can include a wide variety of things, from seeking reimbursement for funeral expenses to the long-term loss of parental guidance and support for the decedent’s children.
Why You Need a Wrongful Death & Probate Attorney?
Wrongful death litigation can be complicated. It involves calculating the monetary damages, including estimating the number of years the decedent otherwise would have lived, which can be difficult. Determining what individuals are the proper parties in the wrongful death lawsuit can also be problematic.
For example, a personal representative is the person authorized to file a lawsuit in a wrongful death case. But who is the proper personal representative? Sometimes a surviving spouse from a second marriage will file a wrongful death lawsuit and not include the correct beneficiaries. Other times, a dispute will exist as to who will serve as the personal representative and thus who will control the decisions and the money from any award of the wrongful death lawsuit.
An experienced lawyer can help you navigate all of these challenging procedures, so you feel confident you are making informed decisions.
Florida’s Wrongful Death Act
In an attempt to ensure justice when someone’s life has been taken due to the wrongful act of another, specific statutes have been established in Florida’s Wrongful Death Act. Those who can sue under the Florida Wrongful Death Act for compensation under its tenets are defined in the Act as “survivors” under Section 768.20, which is limited to the following people:
- The decedent's spouse
- The decedent’s children born of a marriage
- A decedent mother’s children born out of wedlock
- A decedent father’s children born out of wedlock if the father, prior to his death, recognized a responsibility for the child's support
- The decedent’s parents
- Any blood relatives partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services
- any adoptive brothers and sisters partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services
What Compensation is Available Under the Wrongful Death Act?
Each survivor can recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent's injury to their death, with interest, and future loss of support and services from the date of death and reduced to present value.
In evaluating loss of support and services, the survivor's relationship to the decedent, the amount of the decedent's probable net income available for distribution to the particular survivor, and the replacement value of the decedent's services to the survivor can be considered. In computing the duration of future losses, the joint life expectancies of the survivor and the decedent and the period of minority, in the case of healthy minor children, can be considered.
The surviving spouse can also recover compensation for the loss of the decedent's companionship and protection. Surviving spouses can also recover compensation for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.
Minor children of the decedent, and all children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse, can also recover compensation for lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance, and mental pain and suffering from the date of injury. If both spouses die within 30 days of one another as a result of the same wrongful act or series of acts arising out of the same incident, each spouse is considered to have been predeceased by the other.
Parents of a deceased minor child can also recover compensation for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury. Parents of an adult child can recover compensation for mental pain and suffering if there are no other survivors. Medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent's injury or death can be recovered by a survivor who has paid them.
A personal representative can recover compensation for the decedent's estate for loss of earnings of the deceased from the date of injury to the date of death, less lost support of survivors excludes contributions in kind, with interest. Loss of the prospective net accumulations of an estate, which might reasonably have been expected but for the wrongful death, reduced to present money value, can also be recovered if:
- The decedent's survivors include a surviving spouse or lineal descendants
- The decedent is not a minor child as defined in s. 768.18(2), there are no lost support and services recoverable under subsection (1), and there is a surviving parent
- Medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent's injury or death that have become a charge against the estate or that were paid by or on behalf of the decedent, excluding amounts recoverable under subsection (5)
- Evidence of remarriage of the decedent's spouse is admissible
Call (800) 776-3103 Today for Top-Notch Legal Guidance
While our attorneys at Adrian Philip Thomas, P.A. do not handle Florida wrongful death actions, we will gladly refer you to an attorney who does. Our skilled legal team can open probate and represent the personal representative (executor) who is required to be appointed to maintain the wrongful death lawsuit.
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