In the State of Florida, there are special laws and procedures that apply to wrongful death cases. Only certain survivors of a deceased family member can pursue damages for the mental anguish and loss of services of a family member. These provisions are codified under the Florida Wrongful Death Act in Chapter 768 of the Florida Statutes.
First and foremost, it should be pointed that no amount of money (even an award in the millions of dollars) can adequately compensate a child for losing a parent, a spouse for losing a partner, or a parent for losing a child. The emotional pain and scars last a lifetime and there really is no way to quantify these damages. From a legal standpoint, there is a process in place to the pursuit of a wrongful death case. From an administrative standpoint, an estate will be opened to name a person as the personal representative of the estate of the deceased person. Whether the deceased person also referred to as the decedent is a child or an adult, an estate must ultimately be opened so that there is a person authorized under the law to be the point person for the claims or lawsuits filed on behalf of the estate for the wrongful death.
With respect to the damages that can be claimed, there is no formula or math that is set forth by Florida law as to what award or settlement would be appropriate. Generally speaking, there are factors that are considered when evaluating a Florida Wrongful Death case. Here are some of the factors that are considered:
The age of the decedent;
The age of the surviving family member;
The expected joint life expectancy of the decedent and the family (assuming that the wrongful death incident did not happen);
The relationship between the decedent and the family member (how much time spent together, the quality of the relationship);
The effect of the death or loss of the family member on the surviving family member; and
Any medical bills incurred by the family for the medical care of decedent prior to death.
Each Florida Wrongful Death case should be evaluated on its own merits by an experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney or Florida Child Injury Lawyer. From a practical standpoint, the amount of available insurance should also be considered. If there is only $50,000 in automobile insurance for the at-fault driver, the case may end up settling for the policy limits. Certainly, a wrongful death case is worth much more than a mere $50,000 but this may be the end result after fully evaluating the case
A recent crash in Alachua, Florida shows the devastating effect that just one crash can have on a family and a community. It was reported that a Georgia couple (Christopher Hesling and Brittany Trowell Hesling) and their four year old son died in a crash. It was reported that a driver of a 2019 Hyundai Elantra was driving on the wrong side of the road prior to impact. Certainly, the losses of the Hesling Family will be have a ripple effect through the family and their home town community of St. Marys, Georgia which is located just over the Florida / Georgia State Line. See Alachua Florida Head On Collision. When there is a death resulting from an automobile accident, a full investigation will be completed by local law enforcement and the Florida Highway Patrol.
David Wolf is a personal injury attorney and child safety advocate with over 29 years of experience. He is the author of 12 books including the book titled – When a Parent’s World Goes from Full to Empty – The Wrongful Death of a Child – What You Need to Know About The Florida Wrongful Death Act and the book titled Florida Automobile Accidents – Personal Injuries – Keys to Protecting and Enforcing Your Legal Rights.