What Types of Damages Are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Injury Attorneys Helping Jacksonville Families After a Fatal AccidentIf your loved one has passed away as a result of a car or trucking accident, nursing home neglect or abuse, a fall, a workplace accident or another traumatic event, you have legal rights. Families are able to seek compensation from any responsible party through a wrongful death claim. The Jacksonville wrongful death attorneys at The Lawrence Law Group can help determine a legal strategy and seek the full scope of damages that you need in your case. What Types of Damages are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Claim?Florida’s Wrongful Death Act allows the recovery of two overall types of damages. One type is damages awarded to a decedent’s survivors for their emotional losses. Under the statute, “survivors” are defined as a decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and other dependents, including blood relatives or an adoptive brother or sister. The second type of recoverable damages are the estate’s medical expenses, funeral expenses and the loss of net accumulations. Net accumulations represent the loss of savings the decedent would have accumulated had the wrongful death not occurred.Survivors’ DamagesSurvivors are entitled to recover for loss of support and services, loss of companionship and protection, mental pain and suffering, loss of parental companionship and guidance, and any out-of-pocket medical or funeral costs paid on behalf of the decedent. Support and services are defined under the statute as two different categories of damages. Support refers to contributions in kind in addition to money, meaning that a survivor can recover both physical property and money. Services refer to daily tasks performed by the decedent that now a survivor must undertake. For example, if a decedent used to clean the house or handle the landscaping, it now falls upon a survivor to do this or hire someone to do it. In determining these types of damages, a jury or judge takes into account what the life expectancy would be for both the decedent and the survivors, as well as what the services performed are worth. Also considered are any promotions that a decedent could have received, their health and habits, and related facts and circumstances that potentially add to the monetary value of the claim.Companionship, protection, instruction, and guidance damages under the Wrongful Death Act are intangible damages that are not easily quantified. Another intangible damages category is that of emotional pain and suffering. These damages are only available to surviving spouses, minor children, adult children with no surviving spouse, parents of a deceased minor child, and parents of an adult child with no other survivors. The amount of pain and suffering damages varies widely, but a jury is allowed to consider the strength of the relationship between the decedent had with the survivor.Damages Available to a Decedent’s EstateThe decedent’s estate can recover damages for loss of net accumulations, lost earnings, and medical and funeral costs. Loss of net accumulations, which is sometimes called loss of income capacity, relies on a determination of what a decedent would have left in an estate if their life had not ended prematurely. These damages are based on probable business or employment income expected throughout a decedent’s lifetime. Alternatively, lost earnings damages are calculated between the date of the accident and the date that the decedent actually passed away. In rare instances, punitive damages can be awarded in a wrongful death case. These types of damages are not intended as compensation but instead as punishment for a defendant’s actions. In order for punitive damages to be awarded, the act that caused the death of the victim must rise to a level that indicates a reckless disregard for or indifference to another person’s life or safety.Discuss Your Wrongful Death Claim with an Attorney in JacksonvilleIf you have additional questions regarding the legal process following the death of a loved one, the Jacksonville attorneys at The Lawrence Law Group are available to assist you. Our firm represents families throughout Duval, Clay, Nassau, Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, Baker, Brevard, Union, Columbia, Suwannee, Hamilton, Jefferson, Volusia, and Alachua Counties. You can contact us online or at (904) 632-0077 to schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer or discuss any other type of personal injury case.