Although Florida law states that only the decedent’s personal representative can initiate a wrongful death lawsuit, other beneficiaries and survivors can recover damages based on their familial relationship and dependence on the deceased. But who does and does not qualify to be awarded damages can be complicated and depend on multiple factors. The statutory division of damages and list of parties can further complicate matters during an emotional time.
Florida’s Wrongful Death statute details how and in what order damages are to be allotted to the various beneficiaries:
- The Estate of the Decedent (i.e. person that died) can recover medical or funeral expenses, loss of earnings, and loss of net accumulations to the estate.
- Surviving Spouses can recover funeral and burial expenses, lost support and services (plus interest), loss of companionship and protection, and mental pain and suffering from date of the injury.
- Surviving Minor Children (includes all children if no surviving spouse) can recover lost support and services (plus interest), loss of parental guidance, companionship, and instruction, and mental pain and suffering from date of the injury.
- Parents of Minor Child (or adult child if no other survivors) can recover mental pain and suffering from date of the injury, medical costs, and funeral and burial expenses.