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Bringing a Wrongful Death Suit in an Auto Accident Case

Automobile accidents are difficult for everyone involved, but they are even more challenging when they result in the death of one or more individuals. Families are left to not only deal with the emotional turmoil of losing a loved one, but also the financial burdens that may result. The Florida statute contains a provision to assist families when they lose a loved one to someone’s negligent operation of a motor vehicle. With the help of a knowledgeable attorney, families can receive fair and comprehensive financial compensation.

What is Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death claim is brought by a survivor or estate of a deceased individual. It is a claim that the defendant wrongfully caused the death through negligence or misconduct. Plaintiffs in a wrongful death suit are asking the court to award compensation for the loss of their loved one.

Under Florida law, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is two years. In the case of an automobile accident, the time generally begins to run from the date of death, so if your loved one passes away on June 1, 2014, you have until June 1, 2016 to bring a wrongful death claim within a Florida court. If you fail to file within this time period, you may lose your opportunity to ever do so, except where specific circumstances are present.

Determining Damages

The court considers various factors when determining appropriate damage amounts for a wrongful death suit. To support their monetary request, plaintiffs may offer testimony regarding the following:

  • Medical expenses between the causal incident and death
  • Mental pain and suffering
    • This is only recoverable by a surviving spouse, minor children, adult children when no spouse survives the deceased, parents of a deceased child, and parents of an adult child in cases where the parent is the only remaining survivor
  • Loss of support and services that may lead to additional expenses for survivors
    • For example, if the deceased ran the family business, loss of support and services may include the deficiency in income, as well as the cost of hiring someone new to run the business.
  • Burial expenses
  • Actual income at the time of death
  • Lost earnings
    • This accounts for the earnings that were lost from the date of the causal event to the date of death
  • Lost potential for inheritance by dependents
    • This is also called net accumulation. It is determined by the accumulation of future earnings of the deceased individual, minus probable expenses and spending, to determine what reasonable amount would have likely been left to the survivors.

The determination of damages in a wrongful death claim entails numerous variables and it is best to let an experienced attorney decide how to present the unique circumstances of your loss. At Gary Roberts & Associates, P.A., our experienced accident attorneys understand how devastating an injury or death can prove for the survivors. If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident in West Palm Beach, call or contact our office now. We can provide you with a free and confidential consultation of your claims.

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