The Law Offices of Jason Turchin recently settled a wrongful death case for more than $4,000,000.00 on behalf of the family of a young man who was struck and killed by a hit and run driver. The young man was on the street when, according to witnesses, he was struck by a vehicle and thrown through the air. He was in a coma and taken off life-support a few days later.
Florida’s complex Florida wrongful death law sets forth when a victim’s family may have a claim, who may bring the claim, and what damages each family member may be entitled to recover.
Who can bring a wrongful death claim in Florida?
A wrongful death claim is brought by a Personal Representative on behalf of all survivors. The Personal Representative may be nominated in a will, if there is one, or by a majority of the heirs if there is no will. A Florida Probate Attorney familiar with wrongful death claims should be brought in to open the estate. Our office has a probate division who handles many, many wrongful death probate cases not just for our firm, but for other personal injury and wrongful death law firms.
Who has a claim in a Florida wrongful death claim?
Florida’s wrongful death statute generally dictates who can claim money for the wrongful death of a family member. Generally, anyone who paid funeral expenses or medical expenses can submit a claim, any family member who lost support and services, and only certain people depending on the family structure can claim pain and suffering. For example, a family with two parents, two children, with their children never married and have no children of their own, where one of the children dies, would be allowed to bring a claim for pain and suffering for the parents only, and the surviving sibling would generally not have a claim for pain and suffering under the law.
What damages can be recovered in a Florida wrongful death claim
A Florida wrongful death victim’s family may recover several damages following a car accident wrongful death in Florida:
- Personal Injury Protection medical benefits – These benefits should help pay all or some of the victim’s medical expenses if any, up to the PIP policy limit
- Personal Injury Protection death benefit – PIP generally provides a $5,000.00 death benefit to help the victim’s family pay for funeral or other out of pocket expenses
- Emotional pain and suffering – Certain survivors may recover pain and suffering, which could be millions of dollars. The law tells who is entitled to recover this depending on the family structure.
- Medical expenses – The at fault person is generally responsible to pay the final medical expenses of the victim.
- Support and services – Family members who have to incur additional costs as a result of the victim’s death may be entitled to get that money paid by the at fault party. This would include, for example, a victim who mowed his parent’s lawn every week, and now the parent must hire someone else to mow the lawn, or a family member who rented an apartment with a victim who now has to pay the other half of the rent.
- Net accumulations – If the victim was working and saving money, or projected to save money, the Estate may also claim the estimated amount that the victim would have saved over the course of his lifetime, or what he would have saved or accumulated over his lifetime.
There are other damages the family may also be able to recover. An experienced wrongful death attorney will be able to sort out the family dynamic, ascertain who is entitled to recover damages, and what damages each survivor is entitled to recover.