When people are injured in an accident caused by another party's negligence, the injured may recover compensation for their damages through a personal injury claim. In these cases, damages can include purely economic losses like medical expenses and lost wages, as well as harder to define non-economic losses such as pain and suffering.
But what if the accident is fatal? Who can file suit, and what damages can they recover?
Wrongful death lawsuits are a type of personal injury claim in which the family members of the deceased file a lawsuit. Under Florida law, a representative of the deceased person's estate can file a suit on behalf of the spouse, children and parents of the deceased, as well as any blood relatives or adopted siblings who were dependent on the deceased person. These family members are known as the survivors of the spouse.
The survivors in a wrongful death claim may seek to recover damages for their lost support and services from the deceased, including their loved one's probable future income. The spouse and children may also seek compensation for less-tangible damages, such as lost companionship.
Further, the estate of the deceased itself may recover compensation for damages such as lost income beyond that collected by the survivors. If recovered, this compensation would go to the estate, where it can be passed on to the heirs.
Wrongful death lawsuits can be technically and emotionally difficult. Calculating future income can require extensive financial research. Many people are uncomfortable with the thought of calculating non-economic damages in these cases.
But make no mistake, the loss is very real to survivors when a negligent party robs them of their loved one's support. A personal injury attorney can help survivors learn more about how a wrongful death lawsuit could help.