FLORIDA WRONGFUL DEATH ACT | STATUTE 768.16
Wrongful death can be defined as the taking of the life of an individual resulting from the willful or negligent act of another person or persons. According to the law, if an individual is killed by the wrongful conduct of another, then the decedent’s heirs and/or other beneficiaries may file a wrongful death action against the person (or persons) responsible for the decedent’s death.
A wrongful death action is a civil form of action and thus separate from any criminal charges that may be pending, with the outcome of one having no effect on the outcome of the other. Therefore, it is not uncommon for one to be acquitted of murder but sued in civil court by the surviving family for wrongful death.
Wrongful death actions fall under the auspices of tort law, which is governed by statute. Since every state has its own statutory laws, wrongful death tends to vary from state to state in terms of whom may sue, what one can sue for and whether or not there are any limits to a damages award.
The Florida Wrongful Death Act (hereinafter, “Act”) can be found in statutory sections 768.16 through 768.26. The stated purpose of the Act is to shift the losses resulting when a wrongful death occurs from the decedent’s survivors to the wrongdoer. Thus, according to Florida law, remedial damages for wrongful death shall be liberally construed. See this website pls
What Are the Grounds for Wrongful Death?
According to Florida law, when a death is caused by a wrongful act, negligence, default or breach of contract or warranty and, if the person would have survived, the person would have had the right to sue for damages, then there exist grounds for a wrongful death action. More legal help here
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Florida?
An action for wrongful death can be filed by the decedent’s personal representative (such as an attorney), who is responsible for recovering all damages caused by the death for the benefit of the decedent’s survivors. According to Florida law, a survivor includes the decedent’s spouse, children, parents and, in some cases, any blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters. The law specifically includes a child born out of wedlock of a mother, but excludes the child born out of wedlock of the father unless the father has taken responsibility for the child’s support.
What Kind of Damages Can Be Recovered?
The Florida Wrongful Death Act allows each survivor to recover the total value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury or death, with interest and future loss of support and services from the date of death, reduced to present value. When making this determination, the court should consider the following factors:
The survivor’s relationship to the decedent
The amount of the decedent’s probable net income available for distribution to the survivor
The replace value of the decedent’s services to the survivor
The joint life expectancies of the survivor and the decedent and, in the case of a minor child, the period of minority Other forms of optional damages available, dependent on the circumstances of the wrongful death, include:
A spouse may recover for loss of companionship, protection and mental pain and suffering
Minor children may recover for lost parental companionship, instruction and guidance, along with mental pain and suffering
Surviving parents of a minor child may also recover for mental pain and suffering
Medical and/or funeral expenses
Statute of Limitations
In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of death. In other words, if a loved one passes away because of another’s recklessness or negligence on July 1, 2012, you must file a Florida wrongful death claim by July 1, 2014. Failing to file a claim within Florida’s wrongful death statute of limitations may prohibit the deceased’s family from ever recovering compensation for their loved one’s death.
PERSONAL INJURY BASICS
Whether from a car accident, dog bite, boating accident, or slip and fall, if you’ve been injured in Florida, personal injury laws should be at the top of your list of things to investigate, especially if you believe someone else is to blame.
To win money in your case, you must show that another person was careless, or negligent, and that carelessness caused your injury.
If your accident was recent, you’ll want to move quickly to preserve evidence. Here are a few tips to follow after an accident that injures you:
Write down everything you can remember about how the injury occurred
Get the names and contact information of any witnesses to the incident
Report the incident to the proper authorities (for example, animal control for a dog bite or the local sheriff’s or police department for a car accident or boating accident)
Take pictures of any visible injuries to yourself or others and any damages to your property
Contact a personal injury attorney to see if you have a valid claim against the person who injured you before making any statements, written or verbal, to insurance company representatives
In Florida, many personal injury lawyers take cases on contingency, which means that they do not ask for an up-front retainer fee but will take a percentage of any proceeds you collect. This means they will be financially motivated to take solid cases and will be frank with you about your ability to file a successful claim.
The statute of limitations, or deadline by which to file a personal injury lawsuit in Florida, is four years from the date of the injury.If you do not file in this time, you give up your right to sue. Certain types of accidents, such a boat accident in the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico, may have a shorter statute of limitations.
Florida Personal Injury Laws
In most cases, to collect money in Florida after suffering a personal injury, you need to show that the other person involved:
Had a duty not to injure you but failed to in that duty; and,
The failure of that duty is directly related to your injuries; and,
You suffered damages
However, the big exception to Florida personal injury laws is automobile accidents. Florida is considered a no-fault state, which means each person’s own car insurance will pay for injuries and damages resulting from an accident, no matter who was at fault. Each driver is required to carry a personal injury protection (PIP) policy, covering a minimum of $10,000 per person per crash.
Florida law does allow you to file a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident if the injuries are serious. Florida law defines serious personal injuries as those resulting in:
Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement
Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
It is best to speak with a Florida injury lawyer personally about your automobile accident if you believe you have suffered a serious injury and are eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit.
What Kind of Damages Would an Injury Lawsuit Cover?
If you can prove another person was at fault for injuring you, you may be entitled to be compensated for your losses. Those losses include:
Past, current, and future estimated medical expenses
Lost wages from work, including time spent going to and from medical appointments and therapy
Any property damaged because of the incident
Any permanent disfigurement or disability
The cost of hiring someone to do household chores when you could not
Your emotional distress, including any anxiety and/or depression
Interference with your family relationships, called loss of consortium
Any other costs that were a direct result of your injury
What if More Than One Person Is to Blame for Your Injury?
There are plenty of circumstances in which more than one person may be to blame for your injury. For example, if a pet-sitter allows a dog that local officials have already identified as dangerous off a leash, you may have a suit against the pet-sitter and the dog owner. Florida’s joint and several liability rules set up a very structured system for dealing with more than one person at fault.
Any person found to be 10 percent or less at fault will not pay out of pocket for any of your economic losses. Any person found to be more than 10 percent but less than 25 percent at fault will be responsible up to $500,000. Any person between 26 and 50 percent at fault will be responsible for up to $1 million of your damages. And, if a person is found to be more than 50 percent at fault, he or she will owe up to $2 million of your damages.
What Happens if You Are Partially to Blame for Your Injury?
All those numbers change if you contributed to your own injuries. Florida has comparative negligence law, which means if you are partially responsible for the incident that caused your injuries, then your potential award at trial is reduced.
So if you are partially to blame and another person is more than 10 but less than 25 percent at fault, you can only collect up to $200,000. If the other person is between 26 and 50 percent at fault, the most you can collect is $500,000. And if another person is more than 50 percent at fault – but you were also partially at fault – the most you can collect is $1 million.
What Happens if You Are Injured by a Product
How you prove a case against a company which produced a defective consumer produce is different from other personal injury cases in Florida. Instead of showing that the company was negligent, the company has what is called strict liability. This means the company has an absolute duty to make its products safe. If it didn’t, and the defect caused an injury that resulted in your suffering damages, you may have a case. Again, talk to a Florida injury attorney about your product liability case.