What is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Action in Florida?
Wrongful death is a situation when someone dies as a direct result of negligent or intentional actions on behalf of another individual or entity. These are complex cases that can be difficult to deal with for families who are already grieving and trying to cope with their loss. The most significant distinction here is whether the claim you have for your lawsuit is for wrongful death or survival action.
You’ve probably at least heard the phrase “wrongful death” before, but most people aren’t as familiar with the concept of survival action. Read on to learn everything you need to know, including how a dedicated wrongful death lawyer can help you with either case.
Wrongful Death vs. Survival Action: The Differences
In Florida, wrongful death and survival action cases are part of state law, although they fall under different statutes and have different circumstances. Here’s what you need to know.
Wrongful death occurs when someone dies as a direct result of the intentional action or negligence of someone else (or an entity, such as a hospital or workplace). These lawsuits are filed to get justice in the form of monetary damages. They are typically filed by the surviving family members, but in Florida, this person must also be a representative of the estate.
The personal representative can file on behalf of all beneficiaries, which must be listed on the lawsuit. These cases can be filed for:
- Negligence-based incidents (slip-and-fall accidents, car accidents, etc.)
- Medical malpractice
- Product defects or liabilities
- Intentional acts, including crimes
- Other incidents
A survival action is different than a wrongful death claim because it attempts to collect damages that the decedent (the person who died) would have recovered on their own if they had survived. This type of lawsuit can be brought for the same instances above, as well as any case where someone should (or could) have survived, but didn’t.
There are some instances where a survival action lawsuit will be filed by the injured person themselves if they do not die from whatever incident occurred. However, it is usually filed by the victim’s family as an extended legal claim.
For example, if someone has a pending injury claim due to a workplace incident, but they die before the legal process is complete, the family can file a survival action to continue to recover the compensation they would have been owed.
It’s important to note that with survival action, the actual death or cause of death does not have to be related to the initial injury lawsuit for the case to be successful.
All that needs to happen is that someone dies as a result of negligence or intentional acts by another party and that survivors can prove they have suffered financial damages due to that loss.
What Damages Can You Receive in FL?
With a wrongful death lawsuit, damages are typically sought for:
- Loss of household services or support
- Loss of guidance, care, or companionship
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of inheritance
- Funeral and burial expenses
You can recover expenses for mental and emotional damages, as well as financial losses and other expenses. You can even include medical bills and expenses in your lawsuit if they’re related to the case.
In the event of a survival action, compensation is provided for events up until the person’s death, including:
- Pre-death medical expenses
- Lost wages during the time of injury until death
- Pain and suffering of victims
Essentially, if there is a long period of time between the person being injured and their death, you may increase the compensation that you get by using a survival action instead of a traditional wrongful death lawsuit. If, however, someone dies immediately as the result of an accident or negligence, the compensation offered by survival action might not be much of anything.
You can file for both wrongful death and survival action, as they are two separate statutes, and the filings should have no bearing on each other. Of course, there are still a lot of complexities involved, so it’s best to hire an experienced lawyer that’s skilled in both wrongful death and survival action in Florida.
What About the Statute of Limitations?
In Florida, wrongful death cases must be filed within two years of the date of death, in most cases. There are some exceptions, but they are rare. For survival actions, you have two years from whichever event happens later:
- The injury date
- Six months after the death
The Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer for Your Case in FL
Whether you’re facing a wrongful death lawsuit or survival action, or both, it is imperative that you hire a qualified wrongful death and personal injury lawyer to help you fight your case. They know the laws and have handled hundreds of cases dealing with both of these incidents and will be able to advise you on how best to proceed.
Other benefits of having a lawyer in your survival action or wrongful death case include:
- Professional Support: You’ll have someone on your side to help you through this difficult time. That way, you can grieve and try to focus on getting your life back while your lawyer handles the legal matters. They will ensure that insurance companies don’t try to take advantage of you and that you get the outcome you deserve.
- Evidence Gathering: In any lawsuit, you have to have a “burden of proof” that essentially shows the court that your claim is valid and deserves compensation. With a lawyer on your side, this will be much easier. They can help you determine what kind of evidence to collect and even compile some of it for you.
- Negotiation Skills: Lawyers also know how to negotiate with insurance companies and guarantee that you get the maximum settlement for your case. If you try to fight your own case, you could risk being lowballed or taken advantage of by insurance companies and lawyers who know the system better than you.
- Save Time and Money: Some people don’t want to hire a lawyer because of the cost involved. However, with a wrongful death or survival action lawsuit, their professional expertise is worth every penny. And in fact, you can actually save money in the long run because you have a qualified expert handling your case in an expedient manner.
There is nothing that can replace or make right the unnecessary death of a loved one. However, when you want justice and need to hold the right parties accountable, a civil lawsuit might be your best option. If that’s the case, a wrongful death lawyer will be your best friend.
Who Can File for Compensation in FL?
Not every family member or loved one will have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit or survival action. In Florida, it must be an immediate family member that is usually also the representative of the estate. This could be:
- A surviving spouse
- The decedent’s children
- The parents of the deceased (in some cases)
- Anyone financially dependent on the decedent
- Any family member (or other individuals) named as a representative of the estate
If you aren’t sure whether you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit, speak to a lawyer to discuss your case. At Rosen Injury Law, our team has won hundreds of cases and helped clients recover millions of dollars in damages from wrongful death and survival action lawsuits. We know what it takes to get the best outcome and we’ll help you figure out how to get there.
If you’re ready to learn more or have questions about your wrongful death or survival action case in Florida, reach out today. Our team of dedicated experts can answer all your questions and fight to get the compensation that you deserve. Schedule your free consultation now.
What Are the Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
“Damages” refers to the remedy that you can be awarded for your civil lawsuit. These are usually in the form of monetary compensation, which will vary greatly depending on the circumstances of your case.
How Much Can I Get for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The amount of your lawsuit compensation will vary based on several factors, including the situation that occurred, the amount of financial loss it created, and other details. Only an experienced lawyer can review your case and give you an idea of what kind of compensation you are owed.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Suit for My Aunt or Uncle?
If you were living with the relative in question or they were providing more than half of your financial support, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim when you lose an aunt, uncle, or other extended family member. However, this is rare and there are usually closer options for next-of-kin that will also need to be included.
How Do I Know Whether I Have a Wrongful Death or Survival Action Case?
If there was an excessive lapse in time between the initial injury and the death, a survival action may be a good option. However, if the injury or incident led to near-immediate death, it may be a simple wrongful death case. Your lawyer can advise you on this.