Wrongful death claims arise from preventable accidents or intentional violence that result in fatal injuries. There are four most common types of wrongful death claims brought in Florida.
Auto Accident Claims
Car accidents claimed the lives of more than 3,000 individuals in Florida in 2019. In the U.S, motor vehicle crashes are the most common cause of wrongful death, with more than 42,000 people estimated to have been killed in 2020. Most fatal collisions are caused by the negligence of one or more drivers, such as:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Distracted driving
- Texting while driving
- Reckless driving (e.g., abrupt lane changes, tailgating, weaving, etc.)
- Fatigued driving
When another driver or a third party is responsible for a fatal car accident, the surviving family is entitled to pursue a wrongful death claim against them for damages.
Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. When a healthcare provider, such as a doctor, nurse, hospital, etc., makes a preventable mistake, the consequences can be fatal for the patient. Many wrongful death claims resulting from misdiagnosis or the failure to diagnose a condition or illness, medication errors, incorrect dosage, failure to treat, surgical errors, birth injuries, and more.
Workplace Accident Claims
Some occupations are inherently dangerous and have a high risk of worker fatalities, such as construction and garbage collecting. Employers have a responsibility to provide a reasonably safe work environment to prevent serious accidents. If a worker is killed when put into a hazardous situation due to their employer or a third party’s negligence, a wrongful death claim can be pursued.
Manufacturers are required to ensure the products they create and sell are safe for public use. When a product has a faulty design, was defectively manufactured, or there was a failure to warn of potential risks associated with its use, it can be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit if someone is killed. Examples of products commonly involved in wrongful death lawsuits include:
- Defective Vehicles
- Toxic Food Products and Containers
- Dangerous Childcare Products and Toys
- Defective household appliances, like hairdryers, curling irons, or toasters
Other common types of wrongful deaths in Florida are fatal bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, truck accidents, and criminal acts.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death case is a civil claim that can be filed in Florida by the deceased’s personal representative or the individual named in their will. Although the personal representative brings the wrongful death claim, that person is technically acting on behalf of the estate and surviving family members.
The types of compensation commonly awarded include:
- Medical expenses related to the deceased’s fatal illness or injury
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost wages and benefits the deceased would have provided
- Loss of companionship
- Mental suffering
- Loss of provided services
If the defendant (at-fault party) acted maliciously or exhibited extremely reckless behavior, punitive damages might be awarded as punishment.