My loved-one recently passed away in a car crash and it was the other driver’s fault. How do I get compensated for my loss?

Attorney Jason MacriAuthor: Attorney Jason Macri

According to a recent study, traffic deaths in Florida are on the rise. In 2016 alone, over 3000 people died in traffic-related incidents in the State of Florida. One cannot comprehend the sadness and distress experienced by those who are left behind to grieve the loss of their loved-one. Though the life of the person who passed away may have tragically come to an end, the family-members who are left to grieve will continue to experience a great deal of sadness and will suffer losses for many years to come. How can one even begin to seek compensation for the loss of a family-member?

Florida’s Wrongful Death Act states that when a person’s death “is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters, and the event would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued, the person or watercraft that would have been liable in damages if death had not ensued shall be liable for damages.” This essentially means that the negligent party will be liable for causing the death of another even though the person who passed away will obviously not be able to make the claim themselves. The question eventually becomes, who can be compensated for this type of loss and what are the types of compensation available?

The Florida Legislature has essentially spelled out, in the Florida Statutes, exactly who may recover damages as a result of this type of incident. Each survivor of the person who passed away “may recover value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to her or his death, with interest, and future loss of support and services from the date of death and reduced to present value.” Many other factors such as the survivor’s relationship to the decedent, net probable income of the decedent and replacement value of the decedent’s services may be considered when determining the monetary value of the loss.

It is also important to determine who exactly is considered a “survivor” under Florida law. A “surviving spouse” may be entitled to the damages listed above, as well as loss of the decedent’s companionship, protection and mental pain and suffering from the date of the loss. Minor children of the decedent, as well as all children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse, may “recover for lost parental companionship, instruction and guidance and for mental pain and suffering” from the date of the loss. Each parent of a deceased minor child “may also recover for mental pain and suffering” from the date of the loss. Each parent of an adult child may also recover for “mental pain and suffering” if there are no other survivors.

Clearly, the death of a loved-one is an event that can cause very serious bouts of sadness and even serious mental health issues. These issues typically do not fully go away and one can only hope that they alleviate over time. Adding the stress of a lawsuit can exacerbate the levels of stress and anxiety that come along with the death itself. This is part of the reason why it is very important to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as you can muster up the strength to do so.

Another important reason to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible is because of the fact that the time limits (statute of limitations) to file a wrongful death claim are shorter than other personal injury time limits. There is also a higher level of complexity involved in a wrongful death claim considering the fact that a wrongful death claim will also incorporate family law rules as well. An estate will need to be created prior to the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit, therefore, it is possible that more than one type of lawyer will be required to work on the case. If your loved-one has passed away because of the fault of another person, call the Law Office of Dell & Schaefer. We understand your loss and will ensure that the rights of you and your family members are protected during this extremely sad and stressful time.

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