April 11, 2011

Are you entitled in a “Tragic Death”

Recently an anguished father came to Lusk, Drasites, Tolisano & Smith P.A.  office asking me to represent him in a multiple death case. He told me that his wife, five year old son and his wife’s brother were all killed in a tragic car accident. After expressing my sympathy to him, I then told the surprised father that only two of the three had a case under Florida Law and the damages in the two cases were, for the most part, very different.           Under the Florida Wrongful Death Statute, the father, as the personal representative of the deceased estate, can only sue on behalf of a “survivor,” which has a very specific meaning under that statute. For instance, assuming he was married to the child’s mother, the father can sue for the loss of his wife’s companionship, his mental suffering arising from her death, funeral expenses and any loss of potential income she would have earned during her lifetime (minus her living expenses).       The father can also sue on behalf of his son for any monies the son may have earned through his lifetime (once again minus living expenses), funeral costs as well as damages for pain and suffering. It is important to have an experienced if not board certified civil trial attorney to prove those damages since it can become very complicated dealing with that the son may have earned in his lifetime.      Lastly, I had to deliver the sad news that the brother’s estate had no claim. Since the brother had no wife, children or surviving parent, Florida Law does not allow any damages since he had no “survivors” under that law. This is despite the fact that he did have living brothers and sisters. Therefore, given the complicated nature of the law, if you ever have a loved one involved in a tragic accident due to someone else’s  negligence, make sure you hire an experienced trial lawyer to be able to recover your full amount of damages.

Posted in: Wrongful Death

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