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Death of a Survivor Prior to Judgement

Florida law is clear that whenever an individual is killed by the wrongful conduct of another, the decedent’s surviving heirs and/or other beneficiaries may file a wrongful death action against the person(s) responsible for the decedent’s death. As part of the action, the survivors can seek damages, including economic, non-economic and, in some cases, punitive damages. In other words, according to the Florida wrongful death act, one has the right to receive compensation for such things as:

  • Medical and funeral expenses
  • Loss of expected earnings, benefits and inheritance
  • Value of goods and services victim could have provided had they lived
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of love and companionship
  • Loss of consortium and care, advice and nurturing from the deceased

These available damages include the monetary value of services provided by a stay at home parent and thus include compensation for child care, cooking, cleaning, maintenance, shopping, transportation and education.

However, what happens when the survivor dies prior to a judgment on damages being issued? For example, if Husband and Wife are in an automobile accident that is caused by the wrongful doing of Defendant. Husband dies instantly and Wife is injured. Wife then sues Defendant under the Florida Wrongful Death Act. However, before a judgment on the matter is issued, Wife dies from a heart attack or some other injury not related to the car accident. In such a scenario, according to Florida statute 768.24, Wife’s recovery to lost support and services is limited to the date of her death, with the personal representative paying the amount recovered to the personal representative of the deceased survivor.

But what if, in the same situation, Wife doesn’t later die of an unrelated cause but as a result of injuries sustained in the car accident. Thus, Husband immediately dies, giving Wife the right to sue for wrongful death. But, because Wife also sustains critical injuries, in the following weeks, she too dies. In such a situation, there could also be a wrongful death claim attached to her death. In that case, an argument could be made that both deceased Husband and deceased Wife have the right to recovery per the limitations of 768.24 for each other’s death. Furthermore, any other survivors (children, parents, etc.) can also file an action for wrongful death.

For more information on what rights you have under the Florida Wrongful Death statute, contact the Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A., at 877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587) for a free initial consultation.

Florida Personal Injury Office Locations

Main Office

Orlando Personal Injury Office:
3117 Edgewater Dr.
Orlando, FL 32804
Phone: 407-425-2000
Toll Free: 877-FL-INJURY
Fax: 407-843-8274

Seminole County

Lake Mary Office:
1001 Heathrow Park Lane
Suite 4001
Lake Mary, FL 32746
Phone: 407-487-4408

Osceola County

Kissimmee Office:
17 S. Orlando Ave.
Kissimmee, FL 34741
Phone: 407-966-4408

Volusia County

Daytona Beach Office:
1301 Beville Rd., Suite 8
Daytona Beach, FL 32119
Phone: 386-243-4994

DeBary Office:
465 Summerhaven Drive, Suite C
DeBary, FL 32713
Phone: 386-320-3911

Deland Office:
Downtown Executive Center
120 South Woodland Blvd.
Deland, FL 32720
Phone: 386-206-1264

Citrus County

Inverness Office:
110 North Apopka Ave.
Inverness, FL 34453
Phone: 352-205-4341

Polk County

Lakeland Office:
1102 S. Florida Ave., Suite 104
Lakeland, FL 33803
Phone: 863-968-7551

Winter Haven Office:
325 Avenue A, N.W.
Winter Haven, FL 33881
Phone: 863-968-7173

Hillsborough County

Tampa Office:
100 S. Edison St. Suite D
Tampa, FL 33606
Phone: 813-355-9772

Marion-Sumter Counties

The Villages Office:
3420 U.S. Hwy. 27/441
Fruitland Park, FL 34731
Phone: 352-419-0825

Lake County

Mt. Dora Office:
602 East 5th Ave.
Mt. Dora, FL 32757
Phone: 352-436-4696

Clermont Office:
900 W. Highway 50
Clermont, FL 34711
Phone: 352-503-4674

Brevard County

Titusville Office:
506 S. Palm Ave.
Titusville, FL 32780
Phone: 321-222-7300

Cocoa Office:
96 Willard Street
Suite 206,
Cocoa, FL 32922
Phone: 321-757-1373