In Florida, a wrongful death claim exists when a person dies as a result of a wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty and the person injured would have been entitled to file a lawsuit and recover damages if they had not died. Wrongful death claims involve all types of fatal accidents from car accidents to medical malpractice or product liability cases. Essentially, anytime someone dies from other than natural causes, there is a possibility that someone may be legally responsible.
Under Florida Wrongful Death Act, there are two categories of claimants entitled to recover in a wrongful death lawsuit – beneficiaries of the estate of the deceased person (as specified in a will or, if there is no will, as determined by the Florida intestacy laws) and the survivors (the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, dependent relatives). These types of claimants are entitled to different types of damages under the Florida Wrongful Death Act.
Generally, surviving family members may recover the value of lost support and services, loss of the decedent spouse’s companionship and protection, mental pain and suffering, lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance, and medical or funeral expenses due which have been paid.
The deceased person’s estate may recover lost wages, benefits, and other earnings, including the value of lost earnings that the deceased person could reasonably have been expected to make if he or she had lived; lost “prospective net accumulations” of the estate, or the value of earnings the estate could reasonably have been expected to collect if the deceased person had lived; and medical and funeral expenses that were paid by the estate directly.