Under Florida law, the survivors or the estate of a person who dies in a traffic accident (or by any other unlawful means) can sue the person at fault for damages caused by the death of the family member.
Although the amount of damages awarded by the jury is often stated as a lump sum, Florida law specifies specific elements of wrongful death damages that must guide the jury.
The basic rule
The basic rule for awarding wrongful death damages can be simply stated: Wrongful death damages is a sum of money that will fairly and adequately compensate the decedent’s family or the decedent’s estate for any loss caused by the death of the family member, including any damages that may be reasonably certain to occur in the future.
This general rule is usually applied according to specific criteria. The loss of earnings refers to the amount of money that the decedent would have contributed to the estate (or the survivors) from the date of the injury to the date of death.
The estate or the decedent’s survivors may recover any funeral and medical expenses incurred as the result of the injuries suffered by the decedent.
The spouse of the decedent may recover damages caused by the loss of the decedent’s companionship and protect, damages for mental anguish caused by the decedent’s death. Children of the decedent can recover damages for their loss of parental companionship, instruction and guidance and their emotional pain and suffering beginning on the date of the injury.
The decedent’s survivors also have a claim for loss of support that would have been provided by the decedent, including the loss of any future income that the decedent would have provided. In applying this rule, the jury must consider the relationship of the decedent with each of the survivors, and the probable net income available for distribution to the survivors.
The jury can also award a sum to the decedent’s surviving children which shall be “fair and just” in light of the evidence.