Why Time Between an Accident and the Victim’s Death Matters in Florida

When someone is killed in an accident, there may be two types of legal claims by surviving family members. One is wrongful death, in which they are seeking compensation not as actual victims of the incident – but as victims of the aftermath due to the void left behind by their loved one’s death. The other is a right of survival action under Florida law, which views the deceased person as the victim. The statute provides that the power to sue the at-fault party for negligence continues even after the death, where the victim could have pursued a lawsuit if he or she had lived. 

Wrongful death and survival actions might seem similar, but you can see how the laws define the victim of a fatal accident differently depending on the approach. This factor is especially important when a significant amount of time has passed from the date of the accident to the date of death. You can learn details by consulting with a Miami wrongful death lawyer.

Survival Actions and Noneconomic Damages

When you hear about compensation for pain, suffering, and emotional distress, the reference is to the category of noneconomic damages. These are the losses that affect your quality of life after being injured. A victim who is hurt does endure physical pain and emotional harm during their recovery.

A person who suffers injuries in an accident but then dies much later also suffers in the same ways. The victim sustained bodily harm that will eventually become fatal, whether they go through agony for weeks, months, or longer. Pain and suffering damages are available to compensate the deceased person for the experience prior to death.

Like a wrongful death claim, the personal representative managing the estate has the authority to sue. This individual is either named as executor in a will or appointed by a probate court.

Notes on Economic Damages

This is the second category of compensation, and the basics are the same for both wrongful death and survival actions. Economic damages are the concrete, tangible losses stemming from the deceased person’s death. They are typically associated with a definite dollar value, and proving them requires receipts and invoices.

Economic damages reimburse any person or entity that was financially affected by a fatal accident. If medical costs and/or funeral and burial expenses were paid from the deceased victim’s assets, the estate pursues a survival action. A survivor who paid these would have rights in a wrongful death case. The subtle differences and seemingly overlapping concepts are a big reason survival actions and wrongful death claims are challenging.

A Miami Wrongful Death Attorney Can Explain Survival Actions

At Gerson & Schwartz, PA, our team is dedicated to seeking all possible forms of compensation in a wrongful death claim. To learn more about your rights and remedies after a fatal accident, please contact our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL. You can call (305) 371-6000 or check out our website to set up a free consultation. 

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The National Center for Victims of Crime
outh Florida Legal Guide
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