According to Florida Law, wrongful death is defined as the taking of another person’s life, whether by willful intent or by negligent or reckless actions of another person or entity such as a company or government agency. The grounds for filing such a civil claim are protected by the Florida Wrongful Death Act. This act was put into place to protect the survivors of the victim and to “shift” the burden of responsibility to the person or entity responsible for the death.
Wrongful death law is a complex waterway to navigate. There are many factors to determine who may recover damages and to what extent. Here in Melbourne, FL, there are two ways for recovery. Survivors may recover damages related to funeral costs, loss of companionship and any other recovery that can be translated to monetary damages such as pain and suffering. The other way to recover damages is through the estate. These include a more limited scope, but nonetheless involve the last will and testament. Damages that can be recovered are loss of net accumulations, lost earnings and medical/funeral expenses. Net accumulations would be aimed at predicting what the deceased would have been able to continue contributing to their estate through investments, earnings and pension plans.
It is important to hire an attorney familiar with the Florida Wrongful Death Act to ensure you are privy to the extent of your rights and the rights of your deceased loved one. Losing a loved one is the most challenging aspect of life and there are laws to protect the survivors in the event of a wrongful death.
What the Florida Wrongful Death Act is Not
It is not a criminal pursuit claim. Filing a wrongful death claim is separate from filing criminal charges against the person or entity responsible for the untimely death. Criminal charges are often filed together, but are considered separate claims and handled in a different court. A wrongful death claim can only respond in monetary awards and is aimed at protecting the survivors left behind. However, your attorney may be able to represent you in both matters.
The Florida Wrongful Death Act is also not a manner of retribution. Grieving the loss of a loved one that should never have passed is the most challenging of life’s occurrences. It can be easy to want to make the at fault party pay for what they have done. While recovery will help, it is not an action aimed at revenge, but rather one aimed at taking responsibility for actions, whether intentional or not.