Our law firm also helps families who’ve lost beloved members involved in deadly accidents. It is unfortunate that anyone has to go through this but, if they do, the Florida Legislature has promulgated procedures by which those families can be compensated for their loss, and we will fight for a family’s right to be compensated.
Attorneys use the word “damages” as a general term for the different kinds of recoveries, such as money awards, a family can get in a wrongful death case. However, it is important to note that only one family member is usually appointed as a Personal Representative of his or her deceased family member’s estate.
In these cases, we open probate estates so that a judge can appoint one family member as the Personal Representative [“P.R.”]. The Wrongful Death Act provides that the P.R., and only the P.R., may recover on behalf of the family and the probate estate, even though there may be several individuals entitled to damages.
If a settlement or judgment is obtained, the P.R. is in charge of distributing the awards to the family members, generally speaking.
The “decedent” is the person who passed away in the accident. Those who may lawfully recover damages are called “survivors,” and Florida statutes specifically define “survivors” to mean the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and, when partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services, any blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters.
Whenever the Wrongful Death Act talks about “minor children,” it means the decedent’s children under 25 years of age, not just those under 18.
What can a family member recover for damages?
Each survivor may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to his or her death, with interest, and future loss of support and services.
The surviving spouse may also recover for loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.
Children under the age of 25 years, and all children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse, may also recover for lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.
Additionally, each parent of a deceased minor child may also recover for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury. Each parent of an adult child may also recover for mental pain and suffering if there are no other survivors.
The decedent’s estate may recover other damages too but, notably, damages flowing into the estate may be subject to creditors’ claims.
Disclaimer: This blog talks about death cases, in general. There are many specifics to apply to a set of circumstances, so this blog should not be relied upon to determine one’s rights. It is informative in nature only. No two cases are exactly alike, and potential new clients are forewarned that they need a skilled trial attorney to help them maneuver through Florida’s Wrongful Death Act.