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What counts as a “wrongful death” in Florida?

by | Sep 1, 2020

Section 768.19, Florida Statutes, known as Florida’s “Wrongful Death Act,” defines wrongful death like this:

When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters, and the event would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued, the person or watercraft that would have been liable in damages if death had not ensued shall be liable for damages as specified in this act notwithstanding the death of the person injured, although death was caused under circumstances constituting a felony.

If you read this definition and were not any clearer on what a “wrongful death” was, you’re not alone. That’s because it’s written in typical legalese, which means it is not intended to be easily understood by the average person.

To simply things, let’s approach it a bit differently. Think of a wrongful death lawsuit as a personal injury lawsuit where, because the injured party died, someone else brings the personal injury lawsuit on behalf of the deceased.

If we now re-read the definition with some of the extra verbiage taken out, hopefully it will make more sense. Remember, the first half of the definition states the causes of a wrongful death, the second defines the lawsuit’s relationship to a personal injury claim.

A wrongful death is a death:

(1) caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person…(2) [provided that] the event would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued.

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