The simple answer as to why age matters in Florida Wrongful Death cases is that Florida’s Wrongful Death Act makes age matter.
First, age matters in relation to whether a person has a claim and what type of damage the person may claim. As we have discussed in other blogs, Florida’s Wrongful Death Act is a creature of statute and not common law. This means that the rights provided to bring a Florida Wrongful Death case come exclusively from the words in the statute, and the law should not be read any less or any more. The judicial system is there to interpret the laws, but if they are clear, then the judges are simply there to give effect to that language in the form of their rulings.
Minor Child Defined In Florida’s Wrongful Death Act
Florida’s Wrongful Death Act makes it clear that minor children are defined as children under the age of 25. The wrongful death act goes on to prescribe that only minor children can qualify as survivors in regards to certain types of wrongful death claims. For this reason, a seasoned and experienced lawyer who has handled many Florida Wrongful Death cases is necessary to ensure the advice you and your family are receiving is expert advice.
Even though some laws define that age of majority as 18 years old in Florida, the only statute that matters for purposes of Florida’s Wrongful Death Act is the age set out in that law. In fact, the legislature included in the Florida Wrongful Death Act a line that says exactly that. That language reads, in relevant part, “The term “minor children” is defined as children under the age of 25, regardless of the age of majority established by any other statute. Fla. Stat. § 768.18(2)
What Type of Damages Can Be Recovered?
Damages that are most often sought after in wrongful death lawsuits include compensation for:
- Funeral, burial, medical, hospital expenses
- Pain & suffering experienced prior to death (degenerative diseases / debilitating injuries)
- Losses incurred by the deceased’s family: loss of wages; mental anguish; financial support; companionship; parental guidance (in cases where deceased has children)
- The pecuniary compensation provided for by wrongful death lawsuits serves to void any financial issues related to the passing of a loved one.
What Can A Minor Child Recover?
A child of any age may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to the date of death, with interest. He may also recover for future loss of support and services from the date of death, but his recovery will be limited to the present value.
What If No Surviving Spouse?
If the decedent dies without leaving a surviving spouse, a child of any age may also recover for lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance, as well as for mental pain and suffering from the date of the decedent’s injury.
However, adult children may not recover these damages if the death was caused by medical negligence. Fla. Stat. § 768.21(8).
Death Of A Child
Parents of a child of any age may recover from loss of support and services, future loss of support and services, and mental pain and suffering. However, unless there are no other survivors, parents of an adult child may not recover damages for mental pain and suffering.
If the adult child dies as a result of medical malpractice and dies without other survivors, the parents may not recover damages for mental pain and suffering since those are prohibited by Florida’s Medical Malpractice Act.
So, as you can see from this brief overview, Florida’s Wrongful Death Act makes the age of the decedent and the survivor relevant for evaluation. If you or your family is dealing with a potential wrongful death case and desires a free consultation with a board-certified Florida personal injury lawyer , please do not hesitate to contact us on the web at zarzaurlaw.com or by phone at 855HireJoe.
Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.
It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.