What Can Be Recovered?
Understanding what kinds of damages are recoverable in a Florida wrongful death claim is complex and often contingent on numerous other factors. That being said, however, Florida law is clear that damages are recoverable in a wrongful death action. In fact, whenever a wrongful death occurs the Florida statute states that the decedent’s heirs and/or other beneficiaries have the right to seek damages for their loss.
In general, there are three types of damages recoverable in a wrongful death action: economic, non-economic and punitive. Economic damages are meant to compensate one for the financial contributions the victim would have made had they lived. Examples of economic damages include medical and funeral expenses, loss of the victim’s expected earnings, loss of benefits, loss of inheritance and the value of the goods and services that the victim could have provided had he or she lived.
Non-economic damages cover all other forms of compensation, including for the survivor’s pain and suffering, loss of love and companionship, loss of consortium and loss of the care, advice and nurturing from the deceased. Both economic and non-economic damages are not limited to income, but also the monetary value of services provided inside the home by a stay-at-home parent.
Finally, punitive damages are court ordered damages intended to punish the defendant for particularly harmful conduct.
Damages in Florida
These are the general definitions of recoverable damages in a wrongful death action. However, every state has different laws on what damages may be recovered. In Florida, this information is found in Section 768.21 of the Florida Statutes. In Florida, there are two distinct types of damages available: damages recoverable by the survivors and damages recoverable by the estate.
As to damages recoverable by the survivors, the law states that each survivor may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of injury to death, with interest and future loss of support and services from the date of death. The law further specifies different damages to different types of survivor. Thus, a surviving spouse can recover for the loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection and for their pain and suffering from the date of the injury, whereas minor children may recover for lost parental companionship, instruction, guidance and pain and suffering. Surviving parents are limited to recovering for their pain and suffering. The law also allows for the recoverability of medical and funeral expenses by the individual who paid for those expenses.
Damages recoverable by the deceased estate, on the other hand, include: loss of earnings from the date of injury to the date of death, less loss support of survivors excluding contributions in kind, with interest; loss of prospective net accumulations of an estate, which might reasonably have been expected but for the wrongful death, minus the present value; and medical and funeral expenses that have become a charge against the estate or that were paid on behalf of the decedent.
To ensure you recover all the types of damages available to you, it is advised that you seek the advice of an experienced Florida wrongful death attorney. 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.