Parent's Right to Sue
Wrongful death is defined as the death of an individual caused by the willful or negligent action of another. According to Florida law, when a wrongful death occurs, the decedent’s heirs and/or beneficiaries have the right to seek damages by filing a wrongful death action. Thus, a parent who loses a child due to a wrongful death has the right to sue for such damages as pain and suffering and, when applicable, medical and funeral expenses.
Although a surviving parent has the right to sue, Florida law puts strict limitations on this right. In general, what and for how much a surviving parent can sue for depends on whether or not the deceased child was over the age of 25. When the deceased child is over the age of 25, then the surviving parent cannot recover pain and suffering. However, there is one exception to this rule. When the deceased child is over the age of 25 and there are no other survivors, then the surviving parent can sue for pain and suffering. It is important to note that age is calculated at the time of death, not the time of the event that led to the death.
On the other hand, when the deceased is a minor child (i.e., under the age of 25 at the time of death), then the surviving parent has the right to sue for mental pain and suffering along with:
- The value of lost support and services
- Future lost support and services
- Any medical and/or funeral expenses of the deceased child that the parents have paid for
To make matters more complex, case law indicates that a surviving parent of a deceased adult child can recover the value of lost support and services and future lost support and services, although in very limited circumstances. The burden of proof for these types of damages is difficult, often requiring the surviving parent to have had complete dependency (both financial and personal) on the deceased adult child.
If you are a surviving parent it is important that you seek the advice of an experienced Florida wrongful death attorney, who will be able to evaluate your case and determine what damages are available to you. For more information on actions under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, contact the Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A., at 877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587) for a free initial consultation.