Parents can bring wrongful death actions for the death of their children, but in several states there is no wrongful death unless the child has been born alive and then died. The death of a fetus is not a wrongful death in those states and the parents can’t bring an action for financial losses resulting from the death or for their emotional trauma in losing the child. In other states, the death of a fetus can be the basis for a wrongful death suit. Check your state law or consult with an attorney to find out if such an action is allowed in your state.
Close family members can also bring wrongful death lawsuits for the death of elderly people, but since the children of the elderly are usually grown and self-supporting, they can’t claim damages for parental care, guidance, nurturing, or for financial support. As a result the damage awards in those cases are generally not large. If the elderly person is still working, the family members might be able to claim a loss of future inheritance.
Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought against a wide variety of people, such as the driver at fault in an automobile accident, a negligent employer, the manufacturer of a faulty or dangerous product, or a violent criminal. A member of a family, however, cannot be sued by another family member for wrongful death. For example, if a battering husband inflicts a beating on his wife that results in her death, he is subject to criminal penalties, but the couple’s children can’t sue their father for wrongful death to recover damages for the loss of their mother’s care, nurturing, and support. In other cases, such as the famous civil lawsuit against OJ Simpson (following the criminal action), the family of the victim may sue if they aren’t related to the defendant.
Most wrongful death lawsuits involve some kind of negligence, such as in a driving accident, work accident, bad product, or medical malpractice. These cases are similar to personal injury lawsuits for nonfatal injuries, but the damages are different.
Each state has separate statutes regarding the individual entitled to sue for wrongful death.
In Florida, the statute requires that the Personal Representative of the Estate for the deceased shall bring the claim and recover all damages caused by the death for the benefit of the survivors and estate. A Personal Representative is typically referred to as a “survivor” and may include the deceased’s spouse, children, parents or other blood relatives under certain circumstances.
In situations where no Estate is needed for probate purposes, it is often necessary to open an Estate to accomplish the appointment of a Personal Representative.
This is a doctrine that bars filing a lawsuit against the government. Wrongful Death claims against the government can be allowed to go forward as long as the state has waived this doctrine. There is a strict time period for filing these types of cases, however, the law sometimes only allows 30 to 90 days before the right is barred.
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For over 40 Years, Rue & Ziffra Law Offices and Attorneys have provided legal expertise and results for those who have been affected by a Wrongful Death in Bunnell, Daytona Beach, DeBary, DeLand, Deltona, Edgewater, Flagler Beach, New Smyrna, Orlando, Ormond Beach, Palm Coast, Port Orange and Sanford.