When you lose a loved one in a car accident, especially when that accident was the fault of another, there are no words for the pain and suffering you face. The anger, frustration, loss and general feeling of helplessness can be crushing. For many, the question of what to do next looms large. There are, however, laws in place to make sure that those left behind are protected and cared for. Here is an overview of Florida wrongful death claims as they apply to auto accidents and how a personal injury attorney can help you.
Florida: Wrongful Deaths
In Florida, a wrongful death claim occurs when a person dies through the fault, the action of another, or the inaction of another, when that action or inaction led directly or indirectly to the death. Wrongful death is a relatively new concept, only about a century old, but it is now possible everywhere in the United States. This article focuses on Florida wrongful deaths.
Who Can Sue?
When someone dies due to the negligence or the deliberate action of another, a representative of the surviving loved ones, dependents or those who have suffered damage from the death can file a lawsuit on behalf of these “real parties in interest.” In general, this representative is the executor of the estate, but can be another individual designated by those left behind. Parties of interest in a Florida wrongful death suit can include:
- Immediate family
- Life partners
- Those who suffer financial loss from the death
What Damages Can Be Awarded in Florida Wrongful Deaths?
A qualified attorney can maximize you and your loved one's compensation and replace lost future income.
Car accidents are one of several types of wrongful death claims. Those who have suffered loss through a car accident are entitled to a variety of damages from the person who caused the accident. These damages are broad ranging and cover everything from direct financial loss to pain and suffering. Some of the categories of damages that may be awarded in a Florida wrongful death car accident case can include:
- Medical and funeral expenses
- Loss of income from the deceased
- Loss of expected future earnings
- Loss of benefits (insurance, pension, etc.)
- Loss of inheritance
- Mental anguish or pain and suffering
- Loss of care
- Loss of consortium/companionship
- Punitive damages in some cases
It can become very complicated to properly calculate the damages to which surviving parties are entitled. This process can involve expert witnesses, complex mathematical formulas and even consultants such as economists to value such things as the value of care and services provided. The decedent and survivors' education, abilities and earnings will all be taken into account, as will their emotional importance to their loved ones. Many attorneys will not think to spend their own funds upfront to hire experts such as economists, accountants, and pain specialists, but these experts may increase your compensation exponentially.
Florida Personal Injury Attorneys
Because the process is so complex and tricky, it is vital that you immediately seek the services of a qualified personal injury attorney to help you navigate these murky waters. When you are already dealing with the stress and pain of loss, you don't need to further concern yourself with avoiding the missteps in your personal injury case.