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Lakeland Family & Divorce Attorney / Blog / Wrongful Death / What happens in a wrongful death action?

What happens in a wrongful death action?

When tragedy strikes after a fatal accident, the victim’s family is left to pick up the pieces, ask the many unanswered questions, and try to find a way to go on. When the negligent actions of another driver caused the accident, the grief of survivors at the senseless loss can seem overwhelming.

Adding to the emotional upheaval is the frustration of dealing with insurance companies that deny a claim or delay payouts. Families may be struggling with fewer financial resources if there is a loss of income or expensive medical and funeral costs. Trying to get insurance to cooperate only adds to the struggles they already face.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the fatal event, it is possible for families in Florida to file a wrongful death claim. The purpose of such a claim is to provide compensation to loved ones of the deceased for economic damages as well as emotional pain and suffering or loss of companionship/consortium.

How do you prove negligence in a car accident?

Civil court usually oversees wrongful death claims. Because criminal cases require the highest standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, claims filed in civil court are usually more successful, as they only require a preponderance of the evidence to prove the defendant’s responsibility for the death of another.

It is the personal representative of the deceased who will file the wrongful death suit. For the case to be successful, there are several elements that must be present:

  • the death of a human being
  • another’s negligence or intent to harm as the cause
  • surviving family members who are suffering economic and/or emotional damage as a result
  • the appointment of a personal representative of the estate of the decedent

What is recoverable in a wrongful death claim in Florida?

In Florida, in addition to compensation for loss of earnings, prospective net accumulations of an estate, and medical or funeral expenses, each survivor may recover for loss of:
companionship and protection as well as for mental pain and suffering of the spouse

  • parental companionship, instruction, and guidance, and for mental pain and suffering of minor children
  • mental pain and suffering of each parent of a deceased minor child

No dollar amount can ever replace or truly compensate for the loss of a loved one. But holding the other party financially responsible for what has happened can give survivors some closure and allow them a measure of comfort as they adjust to their changed lives.

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