A family member was recently killed in a tragic car crash. What are my rights?
Author: Attorney Jason Macri
In 2016 alone, over 3000 people died in car crashes on Florida’s roads. That number is staggering and almost unbelievable, but anyone who has driven on Florida’s highways recently will have an understanding of how this could possibly happen. Many people are driving while drunk, texting, surfing the internet and doing every other conceivable task. These drivers are clearly distracted and are continuously causing crashes that result in serious injuries and sometimes death.
Florida’s Wrongful Death Act dictates exactly who is eligible to receive compensation as the result of a wrongful death. Each surviving relative (survivor) may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the deceased family member’s (decedent) injury until her or his death. The survivor may also recover for loss of future support and services from the date of the decedent’s death, reduced to present value. The surviving spouse may also recover for loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection, as well as for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.
Minor children of the decedent, and all children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse, may also recover for lost parental companionship, instruction and guidance, as well as for mental pain and suffering from the date of the injury and ultimate death. Each parent of a deceased minor child may recover for mental pain and suffering from the date of the injury and ultimate death. Each parent of an adult child may also recover for mental pain and suffering if there are no other survivors. Medical and funeral expenses due to the death are also able to be recovered by any survivor who has paid those expenses.
When a person passes away as the result of the negligence of another person, an estate will need to be opened and a personal representative will need to be appointed to the estate. Under certain conditions, the personal representative may recover loss of earnings of the deceased from the date of the injury and ultimate death as well as loss of prospective net accumulations of an estate which might reasonably have been expected but for the wrongful death, reduced to present money value. All awards for the decedent’s estate are subject to the claims of creditors who have complied with the requirements of probate law concerning claims.
Though Florida’s Wrongful Death Act is very detailed and clearly explains who exactly is entitled to compensation as the result of a wrongful death, it is extremely important to consult an attorney with experience handling Wrongful Death claims should a family member or loved one pass away. There are many caveats to the law that are not detailed in this article to avoid any confusion. An experienced Wrongful Death attorney will explain each caveat and describe how it may or may not affect you or your loved ones. If a family member of yours has untimely passed away due to the negligence of another, call the Wrongful Death attorneys at the Law Office of Dell and Schaefer. We will explain the law and ensure that you or your loved ones receive every form of compensation available.