Wrongful death is a legal term that refers to any death that arises from the negligent, reckless, or intentional behavior of an individual or company. A successful wrongful death claim allows the victim’s family members to recover monetary compensation on their own behalf as well as whatever compensation the victim would have been entitled to had he or she survived. Recoverable damages include medical bills, funeral costs, lost benefits and wages, costs of services that would have been performed by the victim, the loss of companionship with the decedent, and the emotional pain inflicted by the trauma of the death.
Three elements must be met for a meritorious wrongful death suit. First, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant’s conduct actually caused the decedent’s death. If, regardless of the defendant’s actions, the decedent would have died, the defendant is not responsible. Secondly, the conduct or action of the defendant must be of the nature that, had the victim survived, he or she would have been able to recover damages. Thirdly, the plaintiff must establish that monetary damages did in fact occur.
In a wrongful death case, there are both tangible and intangible damages. Finite, definite damages such as medical and funeral expenses are generally easy to calculate, but damages for lost wages, benefits, and companionship are inexact. When calculating intangible damages, factors such as the victim’s age, health, estimated lifespan, and relationship with his or her family is taken into consideration. In some wrongful death cases, it may be possible to recover punitive damages if the behavior of the defendant was intentional or grossly negligent. Punitive damages are intended to punish the person responsible for the death instead of compensating the victim’s famil for specific losses.
In Florida, the statute of limitations typically requires the estate and survivors of the deceased to file a claim for wrongful death within two years from the date of the negligence resulting in death. If you lost a loved one in Florida and believe you have grounds for a wrongful death claim, you should contact our office as soon as possible to avoid having your claim expire.
Call us at (850) 434-9304 or contact us online to discuss your legal options. Mr. Jenkins can be reached after hours at his home office at (850) 474-4182.