The ability of family to recover damages for the death of a loved one is an important right, particularly because such a loss can have enormous changes in the lives of survivors. It is important that those who have experienced a loss due to negligence to understand their legal rights.
Speaking generally, wrongful death litigation is a cause of action brought for the benefit of a deceased individual’s survivors for the recovery of damages resulting from loss of life due to negligence. State law defines survivors as the deceased individual’s spouse, children, and parents, as well as blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters who were dependent on the deceased for support or services. Wrongful death actions, under state law, must be brought by the deceased individual’s personal representative.
What sort of damages are available in wrongful death litigation? State law lists several: the value of lost support and services and future loss of support and services; loss of companionship and protection; mental pain and suffering; lost parental companionship, instruction and guidance; and medical or funeral expenses. The type and amount of damages available for each survivor depends on his or her relationship to the deceased. In addition, the personal representative may seek out specific types of damages for the deceased individual’s estate.
Like any form of litigation, there are specific aspects of the process of which it is important to be aware in order to have the best chance of a successful outcome. The details of the process and strategy of wrongful death litigation can really only be discussed competently by an experienced attorney in the context of a specific lawsuit, and this is the best advice we can give to readers who are contemplating wrongful death litigation: work with an experienced attorney.
Source: Florida State Legislature, “Chapter 768: Negligence,” Accessed Oct. 31, 2014.