Wrongful Death – What Can Families Members Recover?
Losing a loved one unexpectedly in an accident because of someone else’s negligence is one of the hardest experiences a family can go through. The impact of such a traumatic event on the stability of the survivors is especially acute, at opposing ends of a spectrum, if the person killed was the main income earner or a young child. This type of incident is called wrongful death in legal terms and entitles surviving family members to file a lawsuit to recover damages for the loss. A recent article in the Sun Sentinel describing the death of a bicyclist who was struck by a cement truck near Fort Lauderdale serves as an example of the kind of accident that will likely result in a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver and the driver’s employer. Although no one wants to reduce the significance of a person to dollars and cents, the family should receive something to make up for what happened, and monetary compensation is the only method we really have to provide restitution for the loss of life. Knowing what factors are used in calculations of damages will allow those experiencing the negligent death of a loved one to better understand the legal process and hopefully make it a little easier.
Relation of the Survivor to the Deceased
Basically, Florida law permits anyone who would qualify as a beneficiary of the deceased person for purposes of inheritance to file a wrongful death suit. It should be noted, however, that how much a person can claim for damages is directly related to how closely they are related to the deceased, and close relations, like spouses, parents and children, are able to ask for higher amounts because the loss is viewed as more significant. Further, the amount of loss a person can claim is directly tied to how much of the deceased’s net income would be distributed to the survivor.
Factors Used to Determine Damages
The main aspects of the deceased’s life damages are supposed to replace the loss of support and services. This covers past and future support and services and is measured from the time the deceased is injured until actual death or a projected death date based on age and health. Spouses and surviving minor children have the option of receiving additional monies to recover for loss of companionship and pain and suffering. Parents of deceased minor children may also recover for pain and suffering and parents of adult children if there are no other survivors. The specific contributions from the deceased that are used to calculate damage amounts lost net earnings and lost support. In addition, lost prospective increases in the value of the deceased’s estate can be recovered by spouses and direct descendents. Medical and funeral expenses paid by a survivor are also recoverable costs in a wrongful death suit. Finally, the amount of damages a surviving spouse may sue for will be affected by remarriage because the new spouse arguably provides a portion of the support this compensation is intended to replace.
Hire a Lawyer
If you are related to someone who died due to negligence, it is important to consult with an lawyer to make sure you exercise all your legal options allowing for recovery of your loss. The lawyers at the Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado have extensive experience representing people in wrongful death cases and can assist you. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.