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What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Case?

Fiol Law Group|Posted in Wrongful Death on February 24, 2021

Wrongful death is a tragedy that no family should have to cope with. Although nothing can make up for the devastating loss of a loved one, a wrongful death claim has the power to bring family members justice by providing the financial compensation they need to pay the bills. Find out what damages can be recovered in a wrongful death case in Florida.

Funeral and Burial Costs

Surviving family members or the estate of the deceased person can recover compensation to pay for the costs of a funeral and/or burial, within reason. In most cases, an insurance company will provide up to $10,000 to pay for the decedent’s funeral and burial. The amount offered, however, will depend on the exact economic costs of the services.

Medical Expenses

Many wrongful death cases seek financial compensation for what a deceased individual or his or her family had to pay in medical expenses up to the time of death. In a car accident case, for example, surviving family members may be eligible for the amount of money spent in ambulance fees, a hospital stay, time spent in the ICU, treatments, surgeries, medications and other health care expenses from the date of the auto collision to the date of the victim’s death.

Lost Wages and Employment Benefits

Another type of damage award meant to compensate a family for its financial losses is a lost wage award. Compensation for lost wages can help a family move forward with greater financial stability after the death of a breadwinner.

A lost wage award can pay surviving family members an amount that matches what the deceased individual foreseeably would have made had he or she not passed away. The exact amount will depend on the age of the decedent and his or her income at the time of death.

A wrongful death damage award can also pay a family for lost employment benefits. These may include retirement money or a 401(k), raises, work perks, vacation or sick days, and other lost earnings. A successful claim could also pay beneficiaries an amount in lost inheritance.

The Decedent’s Pain and Suffering

It may be possible to seek a financial award for the deceased person’s noneconomic losses from the date of the accident to the date of death. These damages can include physical pain and emotional suffering, mental anguish, psychological trauma, distress, inconvenience, discomfort, and other intangible losses. In Florida, there is a cap on this type of damage award of $1 million, but only for medical malpractice wrongful death cases.

Loss of Consortium

Florida law allows a family to seek loss of consortium damages. Loss of consortium describes the intangible losses suffered by no longer having the individual around, such as the loss of the loved one’s companionship, protection, guidance, love, care, parental services and spousal love. Loss of consortium damages are most common when a surviving spouse loses his or her loved one or a minor child loses a parent.

Who Receives Damages in a Wrongful Death Case in Florida?

The amount recoverable during a wrongful death case will depend on the decedent and family’s losses, as well as factors such as the deceased victim’s age and income level at the time of death, medical bills, pain and suffering, and more. You may need a Tampa wrongful death attorney to help you negotiate for an appropriate amount.

Once you achieve a settlement or jury verdict for wrongful death, the award will first go to the estate to pay off its debts. Then, a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate will divide the remaining amount among surviving family members in a fair and equitable manner.

If survivors cannot decide how to divide the award on their own, the courts have the authority to approve a distribution method. Speak to an attorney today for more information about the damages available in a wrongful death claim in Florida.