How to Bring a Fatal Car Accident Claim in Florida
If you had a loved one die in a car accident in Florida and want to bring a claim for your loss, call a Florida wrongful death lawyer at the Law Offices of Jason Turchin today for a free consultation at 800-337-7755. With funeral expenses, travel costs, lost wages, and managing an estate or life insurance policy, the loss of a loved can be an emotionally and financially exhausting time. With so much weighing on the mind, most people don’t consider or think to contact an attorney. But when someone is killed in a car accident in Florida, hiring a Car Accident Attorney may be crucial to recovering damages for the loss of a loved one.
According to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, over 3,000 people were killed in a car accident in the state in 2016. The Florida Wrongful Death Act will apply to those who were involved in a fatal car accident.
What is Florida’s Wrongful Death Act?
Florida Statute § 768.19 states that when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of warranty of another person, surviving family members or the deceased’s estate may bring an action in Florida’s civil court system to recover damages and losses that followed from the death.
The statute specifies that the wrongdoer will be held liable the same as he would if the same accident or circumstance occurred, but an injury ensued instead of a death.
The Florida Wrongful Death Act’s purpose is cost shifting — shifting the costs accrued by the death from the victim’s family to the wrongdoer or those who are at fault for the victim’s death. Those found liable may have to compensate the surviving family members for funeral expenses,
Who counts as a survivor under the Florida Wrongful Death Statute?
Generally, a survivor is the victim’s spouse, child, or parent, but survivors may also include blood relatives or adoptive siblings that were dependent on the victim at the time of his or her death.
Who can file a claim after a fatal car crash?
While there may be several survivors of a fatal car accident victim, typically only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a claim for recovery against a wrongdoer. The personal representative will bring the claim on behalf of all of the survivors.
Who is the personal representative of the estate?
As per the Florida Probate Code, a personal representative is a person, bank, or trust company that a judge will appoint to handle the estate of the deceased. The personal representative of an estate will have several duties, including identifying and guarding the decedent’s assets, alerting creditors of the death, paying off expenses of the estate, and more.
In Florida, the personal representative must be either a Florida resident or surviving spouse, parent, child, or close relative of the victim. A child can become a representative if he or she is over the age of 18, and no person who is mentally or physically unable to perform the duties of a personal representative can become one.
Typically, a legal writing called a will establishes not only the distribution of assets, but who will become the personal representative of one’s estate when he or she dies. If the victim dies without having a valid will, then the person is said to have died “intestate.” Chapter 732 of the Florida Probate Code provides that when a person dies intestate, then the assets pass to one’s heirs in order of priority.
The personal representative of an intestate estate is selected, according to Section 733.301 of the Probate Code, based on the order of preference:
- The surviving spouse
- The person selected by a majority in interest of the heirs
- The heir nearest in degree. If more than one applies, the court may select the one best qualified.
What kind of damages can be recovered?
No amount of money or compensation can make up for the loss of your loved one, but may at the very least help alleviate some if not all of the financial burden that a loss will inevitably bring. Each survivor may be entitled to some damages.
- Medical and Funeral expenses The survivor who covers the cost of the funeral, burial, or cremation may be entitled to recover for those expenses.
- Mental pain and suffering Spouses and children of the victim may receive financial compensation to make up for the mental anguish suffered as a result of their loved one’s death.
- Loss of support If the victim financially supported you or another survivor at and before the death, then you may be able to recover damages for the financial support he or she would have normally paid you in the time period between the time of the injury and the time of death.
- Loss of companionship and protection Surviving spouses and children of the victim may also cover damages for loss of companionship and protection as a result of a death.
- Loss of a child Surviving parents may be entitled to compensation for mental anguish, pain, and suffering resulting from the death of a child.
The loss of a loved one can be a emotionally devastating time for the whole family, and we understand that no amount of money in the world can compensate for that loss. Our goal by bringing a wrongful death claim is to help alleviate some of the financial burden and stress brought on by a fatal car accident.
Jason Turchin and his team of Florida auto accident attorneys want to help you with that burden. Call us today at 800-337-7755 or contact us online to see how we can assist you during this difficult time. It’s always a free consultation!