Understanding Florida’s Wrongful Death Law

Losing a loved one in an accident, whether the death is caused by a car accident, a fall, or medical malpractice, is tough and tragic. Unfortunately for some families, their suffering is made even more complicated by Florida’s wrongful death law, which can prevent a wrongful death’s victims loved ones from collecting the full compensation they deserve for the pain and suffering after a wrongful death.

To understand the complexities of Florida’s wrongful death laws, take these two fictional scenarios.

Wrongful Death and Medical Malpractice

The first scenario involves Frank, a 39-year-old manager at a construction company. Frank makes around $50,000 per year and recently got engaged to his long-term girlfriend. He also has a very close relationship with his parents, with whom he and his fiancée enjoy dinner every Sunday. Frank and his fiancée put down a down payment on a new home, a fixer-up which he wants to repair as a fun project with his soon-to-be wife. Unfortunately, while working on a project at the new house, Frank fell off a ladder and was taken to the emergency room for his injuries. With proper medical care, Frank’s injury could have been easily treated. However, the doctors at the emergency room left his unattended for hours, denying him the medical care he desperately need. As a result, Frank suffered from internal bleeding and died in the emergency room.

In this scenario, Frank’s fiancée is not entitled to make a claim under Florida’s wrongful death law, since she and Frank were not married at the time of his tragic, accidental death. Additionally, since his wrongful death was the result of medical negligence, Frank’s parents also cannot recover any damages for the pain and suffering from the loss of their son. Under Florida wrongful death law, only Frank’s estate can receive damages from his lost net accumulation.

Wrongful Death in a Car Accident

In the second scenario, we have Tom. Like Frank, Tom is 39-years-old and makes around $50,000 through his job as a restaurant manager. Tom also has a fiancée, a new home, and a close relationship with his parents, just like Frank. Unlike Frank, however, Tom’s wrongful death was caused by a car accident. Since his death was not caused by medical malpractice, Tom’s estate can recover both lost net accumulations and pain and suffering damages for his parents.

Similar Cases, Vastly Different Results

Under Florida’s wrongful death law, the possible recovery for Frank is very small, while Tom’s loved ones can receive a much larger recovery, even though Tom and Frank’s situations were exactly the same except for the cause of death.

At Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes, we have fought for many families after the death of a loved one and know that the pain and suffering is the same whether the death was caused by medical malpractice or by general negligence.  It is unfair and unconstitutional to treat potential survivors differently, as it violates the equal-protection guarantee found in Florida’s constitution.

We will continue to fight for those families who suffer pain and suffering because of the wrongful death of a loved one – whether from medical malpractice or another type of negligence.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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