Wrongful death claims establish civil liability after a person dies in an accident. The main difference between wrongful death cases and other types of personal injury matters is that a wrongful death claim features the family of the victim as the plaintiffs, filing the suit on the victim’s behalf, rather than the victim personally.
The following are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about wrongful death issues in Florida:
Q: What types of actions can prompt a wrongful death claim?
Wrongful death cases spring from underlying actions that either cause or contribute to a death. Common examples include:
- Generally negligent or careless behavior
- The design or manufacturing of an inherently defective product
- A grossly negligent or reckless action
- An intentional action (such as assault or battery)
Q: Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
Not just any relative of the deceased party can bring a wrongful death claim. The restrictions vary from state to state, but usually include a spouse, children or anyone else who directly depended on the deceased for emotional and/or financial support.
Q: How do courts determine the amount of damages?
Family members of the deceased can receive compensation for items such as:
- The amount of financial support the deceased would have been able to provide had they lived
- Cost of funeral and burial expenses
- Cost of medical treatment before death resulting from the accident
- Loss of emotional support and companionship
Q: How does wrongful death differ from murder?
The primary difference is that murder is a criminal case and wrongful death is a civil case. There are also vastly differing burdens of proof. In a murder case, a jury must find the defendant to be guilty “beyond reasonable doubt.” However, in a wrongful death case, the standard is simply that the defendant must be determined to be guilty “by a preponderance of the evidence.” In other words, if it’s more likely than not the defendant caused the death of the victim, the plaintiffs will succeed in the civil case.