When someone’s negligence or deliberate wrongdoing causes another person’s death, the surviving family members of the deceased individual may file a claim in civil court to recover monetary damages. Our wrongful death attorneys in St. Augustine can help you navigate this process and protect your rights.
The time to file a lawsuit is limited by Florida law, so a family considering the possibility of a wrongful death claim should not delay too long in seeking a personal injury attorney’s advice. A knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer can assist with every stage of the proceedings. Call (877) 428-4177 to speak with a member of our team.
Our St. Augustine Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Help You Account for All Damages
Florida wrongful death laws allow various survivors and the deceased person’s estate to recover different types of damages depending on the situation. To begin with, qualifying survivors may seek to recover the value of support and services they lost from the time of the deceased person’s injury to their death, as well as those projected to affect them forward into the future. Our attorneys can help you approximate the value of such losses.
In addition to the loss of support, a surviving spouse may recover damages for loss of companionship and protection, as well as mental pain and suffering. If there is no surviving spouse, adult children may recover for loss of parental companionship.
Children under the age of 25 are entitled to recover damages for loss of parental companionship and guidance as well as mental suffering, even if there is a surviving spouse. If a minor child dies, on the other hand, their parents may recover damages for mental pain and suffering. Parents of adult children may recover such damages as well if that child has no surviving spouse or dependents.
In addition, the estate of the deceased person may recover lost future earnings, and whoever pays medical or funerals expenses may be entitled to recover those amounts. A wrongful death lawyer in St. Augustine could help take stock of any damages affecting an individual family and work with them to recover an appropriate settlement.
Understanding the Applicable Wrongful Death Statutes
Florida Statutes §768.19 allows a civil action to be brought when a death is “caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty” of another person. This statute specifically includes situations that occur on navigable waters, such as boating accidents.
Furthermore, Florida lawmakers enacted the Wrongful Death Act to “shift the losses” in a wrongful death situation so that the burden is borne by the “wrongdoer” rather than the family of the deceased person. As a “remedial” measure, the wrongful death statutes are supposed to be “liberally construed,” so that they help families suffering from a loss, according to Fla. Stat. §768.17.
In order for a claim to be brought, the person who died must have been entitled, if they had survived the accident that resulted in their death, to bring an action seeking damages for the liable party’s negligence or wrongdoing. So, in a sense, a St. Augustine wrongful death lawyer filing a claim on a family’s behalf is really filing on behalf of the deceased to right the wrong that was done to them.
Parties Who Can File a Lawsuit and Recover Damages
The wrongful death provisions in Florida require that such an action must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate, also sometimes referred to as an executor of the estate. In this context, “estate” refers to the assets owned by someone who is now deceased. When a person dies, their assets are managed by a representative who settles bills and puts things in order before the assets are distributed to heirs or legatees.
Although the lawsuit must be filed by the representative, it is brought for the benefit of the survivors and the estate. As per Fla. Stat. §768.18, survivors are defined to include, in order of priority:
- The spouse of the deceased person
- Children of the deceased person
- Parents of the deceased person
- Any blood relatives who were partially or completely dependent on the deceased person for support or services
- Adoptive brothers and sisters who were partially or completely dependent on the deceased person for support or services
For more information about the eligibility of a wrongful death lawsuit, reach out to a knowledgeable and compassionate lawyer.
Speak with a Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
While wrongful death claims can be very complicated depending on the circumstances, it is important to collect and preserve the right evidence, which becomes increasingly difficult with the passage of time. So, if your family believes a wrongful death claim could be appropriate in your situation, contact a St. Augustine wrongful death lawyer at (877) 428-4177 for a free case evaluation.