Compensatory Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida
There are many financial losses experienced by the wrongful death of a loved one. Depending on how they are related to the decedent, survivors may recover one or more of the following categories of damages:
- Mental pain and suffering
- Medical or funeral expenses
- Lost support and services
- Loss of decedent’s companionship and protection
- Lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance
Compensation Division Between Survivors
Are there any damages that each survivor may recover, no matter how they are related to the decedent? Yes. Florida law dictates how these cases are handled in Tampa, Winter Haven and Lakeland.
Loss and Support Services
Each survivor may recover lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to her or his death, with interest, and future loss of support and services from the date of death and reduced to present value. The statute defines “support” as contributions in kind as well as money, which means lost contributions of property and money. “Services” means “tasks, usually of a household nature, regularly performed by the decedent that will be a necessary expense to the survivors of the decedent.” Fla. Stat. sec. 768.21.
In evaluating loss of support and services, a jury may consider:
- The survivor’s relationship to the decedent, how were the parties related? Was the relationship a strong one or were the parties estranged? To that end, would the decedent actually have helped perform the services?
- Was the amount of the decedent’s probable net income available for distribution to the particular survivor, were raises or promotions likely?
- What is the replacement value of the decedent’s services to the survivor, would a nanny need to be hired to care for young children? If so, how much would they pay the nanny? Would a housekeeper need to be retained if the survivor worked long hours and the decedent was a stay-at-home mother?
In computing the duration of future losses, the joint life expectancies of the survivor and the decedent (and the period of minority, in the case of healthy minor children), may be considered. This guideline is used to determine how long the support or services that are now lost, would have lasted. For example, was the decedent otherwise in good health prior to his or her untimely demise? How long could he or she realistically expect to have lived had the wrongful death negligence not occurred? How many more years of earning potential could the survivors have expected?
Medical and Funeral Expenses
Each survivor may also recover medical and funeral expenses due to the decedent’s (injury or) death if the survivor paid for them.
Please see our remaining pages for each survivor to determine what other categories of damages may be recoverable in addition to lost support and services and medical and funeral expenses.