Wrongful death occurs when a person perishes because of someone else’s negligence.
In cases of wrongful death where the victim has surviving family members, there are a few different types of legally pursuable damages including economic, non-economic and punitive.
True financial losses
The families of wrongful death victims deserve compensation for the sudden and tragic loss of their loved one as well as the financial strain on the household that occurs as a result. These types of losses include:
- Loss of future income and benefits
- Funeral, burial or cremation costs
- Loss of support services if the decedent was responsible for household or childcare needs
In addition to a wrongful death claim, a decedent’s personal representative may pursue a survival action, seeking damages owed to the victim on behalf of the estate.
Non-economic losses comprise the more difficult-to-quantify aspects of a case that occur alongside the wrongful death incident. Examples may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Diminished quality of life
Recently, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that having statutory caps on non-economic damages in wrongful death due to medical malpractice cases is unconstitutional. Therefore, juries can determine appropriate damages based on the facts of cases without imposed limits. In cases where at-fault parties engaged in especially egregious conduct, courts may award punitive damages in addition to economic and non-economic damages.
If you are a family member of a wrongful death victim, you may be too shocked and confused to consider legal action. However, you should know and understand your rights and entitlements under the law so you can make the right moves at the right time.