The taking of the life of an individual resulting from the willful or negligent act of another person or persons.
If a person is killed because of someone else’s wrongdoing or carelessness, the decedent’s heirs and other beneficiaries may file a wrongful death action against those responsible for the death. Wrongful death statutes vary from state to state, but generally they define who may sue for wrongful death and what, if any, limits may be applied to an award of damages.
Originally, wrongful death statutes were created to provide funding for widows and orphans and to motivate people to exercise care to prevent injuries. A wrongful death action is separate and apart from criminal charges, and neither proceeding affects nor controls the other. This means that a defendant acquitted of murder may be sued in a civil action by the victim’s family for wrongful death.
An action for wrongful death may be brought for either an intentional or unintentional act that causes an injury that results in death.
Here are a few examples:
- A blow to the head during fist fight that later results in death is an injury that is intentionally caused.
- The driver of an automobile who unintentionally causes the death of another in an accident may be held liable for negligence
- An individual who, in violation of local law, neglects to enclose a swimming pool in his yard can be held liable for the omission or failure to act if a child is attracted to the pool and subsequently drowns.
You may remember in 1995, former football star O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. However, two years later he was required to pay $33.5 million in punitive and compensatory damages to the families and beneficiaries of the victims as a result of a wrongful death action brought against Mr. Simpson by the victims’ families.
If you have questions about Florida wrongful death statutes or if you want to confidentially discuss your situation with a professional, give us a call at (321) 253-4200. There is no cost to you until we win your case.