Wrongful death is a tort claim, meaning that it is a civil case and not a criminal case in Florida. In a criminal proceeding, such as a homicide, the government files the charges. However, in a tort claim such as wrongful death, a plaintiff, usually the estate or family member(s) of the deceased person, files the charges.
There are differences between criminal and civil cases. Generally, criminal law is punitive and concerned with punishing people who commit crimes. Tort law, on the other hand, provides a way and means for victims to obtain compensation for their losses in monetary or economic terms. In a wrongful death case, the victims are the immediate family members of the deceased.
According to Florida Statute 768.19, when a death is “caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person,” that person could be liable for awards “notwithstanding the death of the person injured.” The family or estate of the deceased can file a civil lawsuit to recover their damages and losses. If you or your loved need any advice about a wrongful death, contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC for your free consultation at 800-593-3443.
Filing a Lawsuit for Wrongful Death in Florida
A wrongful death case must show that a wrongful act brought about the death. This wrongful act can also include negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty, as per the Florida statute. The case must show that the deceased person would have been entitled to awards if they had survived the wrongful act.
In Florida, the following family members of the deceased can file a wrongful death lawsuit, according to Florida Statute 768.21:
- The surviving spouse
- Minor children of the decedent
- Adult children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse
- Each parent of a deceased minor child
- A survivor who has paid medical or funeral expenses on behalf of the decedent
There may be others that can claim wrongful death awards. It can be helpful to discuss who is able to file a wrongful death case with a lawyer.
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Examples of Wrongful Death
Wrongful death can occur due to many different circumstances, including but not limited to:
- Medical malpractice
- Car accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Slip and fall fatalities
These are just some examples that can cause a wrongful death. A wrongful death case can arise in any circumstance where the intentional or negligent acts of another person or entity causes death or fatal injuries to another person.
Compensation That May Be Awarded in a Wrongful Death Case in Florida
Florida Statute 768.21 lays out the type of awards someone can receive from a Florida wrongful death lawsuit. The statute makes a distinction between the estate of the deceased and the survivors, with both entities being able to claim for awards.
The estate of the deceased may receive awards for:
- Lost wages, benefits, and potential future earnings
- Medical and funeral expenses
- Loss of prospective net accumulations of an estate that could be expected had the decedent lived
Family members of the deceased could receive compensation for:
- Loss of companionship for a spouse
- Loss of companionship, instructions, and guidance for minor children
- Mental pain and suffering for children as well as the surviving spouse
- Mental pain and suffering for the parents of a deceased minor child
This is not an exhaustive list of awards that a wrongful death lawsuit may recover.
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Florida Statute of Limitations in Wrongful Death Cases
In Florida, the statute of limitations states that the time limit for a wrongful death lawsuit is generally two years from the date of death.
The wrongful death of a loved one is not only a shock and extremely upsetting for those left behind, but it can also place much upheaval and financial stress on the family. Precious time can pass in trying to come to terms with the death of a loved one, as well as dealing with the practicalities and bureaucracy surrounding a wrongful death.
Failing to adhere to the two years set out in the Florida statute of limitations could mean that you and your family are unable to recover compensation from the wrongful death of a loved one.
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How a Lawyer Can Help Determine if Wrongful Death Is a Crime in Florida
A wrongful death in the family is tragic for all involved. We can help to research your wrongful death case and provide answers to any questions you might have surrounding a wrongful death civil lawsuit. Trying to establish and determine if wrongful death is a crime in Florida can be confusing and challenging. We can help you hold the responsible party to account and advise you on how to build your individual case.
There are no costs for you as we work on contingency and only receive payment if your case is successful. If you or your loved need any advice about a wrongful death, contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC for your free consultation at 800-593-3443.
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