Wrongful Death Versus Survival Actions in Florida Personal Injury Cases

While accidents might have been knocked down a notch by COVID in the last two years, unintentional injuries are still the fourth leading cause of death in the US. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 200,000 people are killed every year in preventable accidents, with falls and motor vehicle collisions topping the list. For surviving loved ones whose lives are forever changed, the grief and devastation can be overwhelming. In time, the victim’s family will also sustain significant financial losses from the void left behind. 

Fortunately, Florida personal injury laws provide legal remedies after someone dies from unintentional injuries. There are two in particular that may apply if you recently lost a loved one — a wrongful death lawsuit OR a survival action. Though these options stem from the same fatal incident, they are different. A Miami wrongful death lawyer can explain the details, and you might find an overview to be informative.

Different Actions From the Same Fatal Incident

Accidents are usually caused by negligence, so you must first be able to prove that your loved one was killed because the at-fault party failed to exercise reasonable care – for both a wrongful death and a survival action. From there, the focus for these claims turns to who constitutes a “victim.”

  • Wrongful Death: The victims in a wrongful death case are the surviving family members, who suffer financial and emotional losses from their loved one’s passing. The personal representative of the decedent’s estate has standing to bring a claim on behalf of the surviving spouse, children, and other relatives.
  • Survival Actions: With this type of claim, the deceased is the victim. He or she might have suffered significant pain and suffering between the moment of the accident and death. A survival action aims to recover these losses.

Legal Process After a Fatal Accident

Florida law does not allow recovery of damages for both wrongful death and a survival action, but you can pursue both simultaneously. When it comes to the trial, the personal representative can elect which of the two remedies will be most advantageous. However, many wrongful death cases are resolved via settlement before trial. A negligent motorist, property owner, or other at-fault party typically has liability insurance to cover accident cases, so you might be able to work out an agreement.

Through a wrongful death action OR survival action, it is possible to recover damages for:

  • The decedent’s lost income and financial contributions;
  • Loss of companionship, education, guidance, and love;
  • Funeral and burial expenses; and,
  • The costs of the decedent’s medical care prior to death.

Get Legal Help From a Miami Wrongful Death Attorney

A summary of the relevant concepts is helpful, but you can trust our team at Gerson & Schwartz, PA to handle the specifics after the tragic death of a loved one. For more information about your legal remedies, please call (305) 371-6000 or go online. We can schedule a free consultation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL.

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The National Center for Victims of Crime
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