Florida’s Wrongful Death Act allows family members to sue someone who may have caused their loved one’s death. The law states that the cause of the person’s death was by “the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person.”
If your loved one dies in a car or motorcycle accident, a personal representative may file a claim against the other driver on your behalf. You and your representative have two years from the date of death to file a suit.
Elements of the claim
There are four parts to the suit that you must prove to win your case and receive compensation:
- Duty of care
You must show that the defendant had a duty of care to your loved one. Duty of care is a legal obligation for a person to take reasonable steps to avoid acts that may harm others. For example, the driver of the other car had a responsibility to follow the laws of the road and drive safely.
- Breach of duty
The court must believe that the defendant breached the duty of care. A question that the court may ask is if the person driving the car could foresee the risk to your loved one and then fail to prevent the crash. For example, the driver breached the duty of care by texting and driving knowing that Florida law prohibits it.
Finally, you must prove to the court there is a connection between the breach of the driver and the outcome of the accident. For instance, the crash may not have occurred if the driver was not driving and texting.
Damages refer to the amount of compensation that you may receive because of the accident and your loved one’s death. Florida law allows survivors to recover damages from loss of support, medical and funeral costs, and mental pain and suffering. If there is no surviving spouse, the court may award minor and adult children damages for the loss of parental companionship, instruction and guidance.