WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS
If your family has lost a loved one as a result of a traumatic accident, you already know that our justice system is wholly inadequate in addressing your loss. The recovery of money damages does little to fill the void that now exists; yet, this is the only remedy available to us.
In Florida, the handling of a wrongful death claim is quite involved. Initially, a personal representative will have to be appointed, and that individual will seek recovery for the claims of the decedent’s estate and each individual survivor.
There are two general categories of damages that are recoverable under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act. The decedent’s “survivors” as the term is defined in the Act and related case law, are entitled to recover damages for such things as: lost financial support; lost services; loss of companionship; loss of protection; potentially the loss of parental companionship, instruction and guidance; and any medical expenses and/or funeral expenses paid by the survivor; and the survivor’s mental pain and suffering. The decedent’s estate on the other hand may recover damages for: loss of “net accumulations” as that term is defined; decedent’s lost earnings; and decedent’s medical and funeral expenses.
Some of the aforementioned damages, such as mental pain and suffering are intangible and can be difficult to value. However, other damages can be, and must be, calculated and proven by retaining the services of financial professionals and expert witnesses, such as accountants, CPAs, actuaries and economists.
For instance, the recovery for “net accumulations” is determined by calculating the present value of the decedent’s probable future net earnings, which in turn is determined by calculating the probable future gross earnings after taxes of the decedent over his or her normally projected lifespan and then deducting from that figure the estimated living expenses of the decedent over that same time period.
As one can see, properly evaluating and proving the amount of recoverable damages in these types of cases is part art and part science. And though I have set forth herein a very cursory explanation of what is involved in pursuing justice in these unfortunate circumstances, it serves to show that the time, to retain competent legal representation to assist you and your family through the maze of rules and regulations associated with this complex area of personal injury law, is now.