Losing a loved one in a car accident is one of the most devastating and tragic events one can experience. When the accident is caused by the negligent, reckless, or criminal behavior of another person, you might be wondering if you can file a wrongful death claim.
This article answers commonly asked questions about wrongful death car accident claims in Florida, including who is eligible to file a lawsuit.
When is a Death Considered Wrongful?
Accidents happen, and fatal car accidents unfortunately happen much too frequently. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there are nearly 43,000 deaths annually that occur as a result of motor vehicle accidents.
Not all accidents caused by motor vehicles rise to the threshold of a wrongful death claim. To prove wrongful death, the proponent must show that the driver (or potentially another third party) acted in a way that was reckless or negligent, and those actions caused the accident.
Your attorney will review the circumstances of the tragedy with you to help you determine whether pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit is appropriate.
Actions of another party that could rise to the level of a wrongful death claim include:
- Drunk driving
- Driving under the influence of recreational or prescription drugs
- Distracted driving
- Unsafe lane changes
- Illegal turns
- Failing to adhere to traffic signs or signals
- Driving an unsafe vehicle
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida?
States have different laws about who is eligible to file a wrongful wrongful death claim. In several states, surviving family members like spouses, children, and parents are the ones who will ultimately file a claim.
Florida, however, has slightly different rules than those states. In Florida, only a personal representative may file a wrongful death lawsuit. The personal representative is named during the deceased’s lifetime, typically in a will or estate plan. One may be appointed if no personal representative was assigned before the person’s death.
Despite the rules surrounding who can initiate a wrongful death claim, it is the dependents and other surviving family members who receive the financial disbursements from the estate when the claim is settled or a judgment is issued.
Compensation Available in a Wrongful Death Settlement
Every wrongful death settlement is unique, so the types of compensation surviving family members can receive will be different.
The factors that tend to influence compensation depend on the circumstances of the wrongful death car accident as well as the insurance coverage limits and personal assets of the at-fault party (or parties).
A law firm that aggressively fights for client compensation may pursue economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are damages that generally be objectively calculated and assigned a value. This could include funeral expenses, for example.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are more emotional and often require sophisticated fact-finding and negotiating to arrive at a fair amount. Non-economic damages can include a variety of compensation, including pain and suffering.
Depending on the circumstances regarding your loved one’s wrongful death, we may fight for the following compensation:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical costs incurred
- Lost income, including future earnings
- Vehicle damage and replacement costs
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages (limited by Florida law)
Contact an Experienced Florida Wrongful Death Attorney to Discuss Your Situation
The professional attorneys at Warner & Fitzmartin Attorneys at Law understand that you and your family are facing a difficult time, and we are here to help. Our law firm has earned a reputation for being a team of aggressive advocates who fight for the rights of our clients. Call us at (561) 821-3098 to schedule a free consultation.