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Understanding Differences Between Florida’s Wrongful Death And Survivor’s Statutes


When someone dies as a result of an accident, Florida allows the family and survivors to file what is known as a Wrongful Death lawsuit. But Florida also allows a survival action to be filed, which can also be filed when there is a death following an accident. What’s the difference between these two suits?

Survival Suits

When someone is injured as a result of an accident and then dies for any reason, their claim—the damages they sustained while they were still alive—does not die with them. Survivors of the deceased can file suit and recover damages for the pain, suffering expenses and other damages that the deceased suffered, from the time of the injury to the death.

An example of a survival suit may be where someone falls, and injures their back. It turns out the victim also had cancer, and dies of cancer before they can ever file suit for the fall. Because the death was unrelated to the accident, a survival suit would be filed.

The Wrongful Death Act

A Wrongful Death Act claim is a bit different. To file a wrongful death lawsuit, it must be shown that the death was actually caused by, or stemmed from, the injuries sustained in the accident. In some cases this is obvious, but in many cases, it can be difficult to ascertain.

For example, if a nursing home were to fail to treat an elderly resident, that resident could develop a bedsore that eventually becomes infected. On the surface it may seem like the resident died of an infection. But if the infection directly stemmed from the bedsore, the family of the deceased would be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

In some cases, people can have adverse reactions to otherwise normal procedures. Assume that someone has knee surgery, but because of the trauma of the surgery, the victim has a heart attack and dies. The heart attack likely directly stemmed from the accident—even though the accident didn’t directly cause the heart attack, the surgery did.

Differences in Damages

If someone dies as a result of an accident, the victim’s family or estate must file a wrongful death action. The benefit of a wrongful death action as compared to a survival suit is extended damages.

For example, in a wrongful death action, family members can often obtain loss of financial support that they would have received, financial expenses, or loss of companionship and consortium. Wrongful death allows recovery for the emotional loss of the relatives and family.

Many of these damages are not available in a survival suit, which will just focus on the pain and suffering (and lost wages or incurred medical bills) of the deceased before death.

Contact the Miami personal injury attorneys at Velasquez & Associates P.A. today for help if you are injured in any kind of accident.

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