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What is the Average Wrongful Death Settlement in Florida?

on  Personal Injury

Losing a loved one is one of the most devastating experiences a person can go through, especially when someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing caused that loss. If you find yourself in the tragic situation of having lost a family member due to a wrongful death in Florida, you may be wondering about seeking justice and compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. One of the questions likely on your mind is, “What is the average wrongful death settlement amount in Florida?” 

Based on available data, wrongful death settlements in Florida tend to fall within a broad range, often between $500,000 and $1 million. However, it’s crucial to understand that this is a rough estimate and not a definitive average.

The truth is, there is no simple answer or definitive “average” when it comes to wrongful death settlements in the Sunshine State, or anywhere else for that matter. Every case is unique, and settlement amounts can vary widely based on many factors specific to each situation. However, understanding the key elements that influence wrongful death settlements in Florida can give you a general sense of what to expect if you consider taking legal action after the unthinkable.

What Is a Wrongful Death?

First, let’s clarify what exactly constitutes a “wrongful death” from a legal standpoint in Florida. Under state law, a wrongful death is defined as a death “caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty” of another party. This could encompass various fatal scenarios, from car accidents caused by reckless drivers to medical malpractice incidents to defective products. If the negligent or intentional actions (or inaction) of a person or entity directly led to your loved one’s untimely passing, you may have grounds for a wrongful death claim.

What Factors Determine Wrongful Death Settlement Amounts in Florida?

So, what determines the potential settlement amount in a Florida wrongful death case? As mentioned, numerous factors come into play, but some of the primary ones include:

  • The age and health of the deceased individual 
  • Their earning potential and income at the time of death
  • The extent to which surviving family members were financially dependent on the deceased
  • The degree of negligence exhibited by the liable party
  • The availability of insurance coverage or assets of the defendant(s)
  • The individual facts, evidence, and strength of each particular case

Let’s dive deeper into these key factors to illustrate how they can impact wrongful death settlements in Florida.

Age, Health, and Earning Potential

The age and overall health of your loved one at the time of their death are significant elements that affect potential settlement amounts. Generally speaking, if the deceased was younger and in good health with a bright economic future ahead of them, a settlement would likely be higher than that of an older individual in poor health who was no longer working. 

Why? A major component of damages in wrongful death lawsuits is lost earning capacity – the wages and income the deceased would have earned over the remainder of their lifetime had the tragedy not cut their life short. For a young professional just starting a promising career, this could mean millions in potential lost earnings. For an elderly retiree, the calculation is much different.

Degree of Financial Dependence

Another key factor is the extent to which surviving family members financially rely on the deceased individual. In Florida, only certain relatives are eligible to recover damages in a wrongful death case – typically the spouse, children, and sometimes parents of the deceased. The level of their economic dependence factors heavily into settlements.

For example, if a father of three young children is killed in a workplace accident, his wife and kids would likely be entitled to significant compensation for the loss of his income, benefits, and services that they depended on. The age of dependent children is an important consideration. Settlement amounts are often higher when kids are younger and will be without parental financial support for longer.

On the other hand, if an unmarried, childless individual with no other dependents is the victim of wrongful death, the calculation changes, as there are no direct survivors who are counting on their financial contributions.

Establishing the monetary value of things like lost benefits, retirement funds, and the replacement costs of household services the deceased provided is a complex endeavor. Experienced Florida wrongful death attorneys often work with economic experts and actuaries to build a data-driven case for fair compensation.

Strength of the Case and Degree of Negligence

Arguably, the most important factor in any wrongful death settlement is the individual strength of the case itself—how clear is the defendant’s liability? How egregious was their negligence or recklessness? How well can you prove they directly caused the death?

Florida follows a modified comparative negligence rule in wrongful death cases, not pure comparative negligence. Under this system, also known as the “51% rule,” a plaintiff can recover damages if they are found to be 50% or less at fault for the incident. If the plaintiff’s fault exceeds 50%, they are barred from recovering damages.

This modified comparative negligence standard adds another layer of complexity to Florida wrongful death cases, as it requires a careful analysis of each party’s degree of fault in the tragic incident. Experienced Florida wrongful death attorneys work diligently to gather evidence and build arguments to minimize any potential allocation of fault to the deceased individual, ensuring the highest possible recovery for the surviving family members.

Logically, cases involving extreme negligence or clearly intentional harmful acts tend to yield higher settlements compared to situations where liability is less obvious. A wrongful death caused by a drunk driver with a history of DUIs, for instance, is more clear-cut than one where the fault is spread between multiple parties.

While the vast majority of wrongful death cases reach out-of-court settlements, the strength of a case still matters immensely. Defendants are more motivated to settle quickly and pay larger sums if they know they might suffer a devastating loss at trial.

Insurance Coverage and Assets of the Defendant  

Another harsh reality of wrongful death settlements? If a defendant has no assets and minimal insurance coverage, it puts a ceiling on potential payouts, no matter how strong the case against them appears.

Typically, insurance policies of the at-fault party are the primary source of recovery in Florida wrongful death cases. For example, if a commercial trucking company causes a deadly crash, its liability policies are usually quite substantial – providing ample avenues for meaningful compensation. But if the fatal accident was caused by an uninsured, unemployed individual with no personal assets, there may sadly be little to pursue.

If you are considering a wrongful death action in Florida, the best advice is to consult with an experienced wrongful death lawyer who can evaluate the unique circumstances of your case and give you a realistic assessment of what to expect. An experienced wrongful death attorney will thoroughly investigate all potential sources of recovery to secure the maximum possible support for your family’s future needs. They will conduct thorough asset checks and insurance analyses before advising families on the viability of their case. 

No amount of compensation can ever truly heal the pain of losing a loved one. However, holding negligent parties accountable and securing the financial future of those left behind is often an important part of the healing process.

Contact Our Florida Wrongful Death Lawyers Today

If you or someone you love has suffered the devastating loss of a family member due to another party’s negligence or wrongdoing, please know that you are not alone in this incredibly difficult time. The grief, pain, and overwhelming sense of injustice you are experiencing are valid, and you deserve both compassion and strong legal support as you navigate this challenging path.

At Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys, PA., we understand that no amount of financial compensation can ever truly mend the heartbreak of losing a cherished loved one. However, we firmly believe holding negligent parties accountable and securing the resources needed to support your family’s future is essential. Our team of experienced and empathetic Florida wrongful death attorneys is here to stand beside you every step of the way.

Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your unique situation and learn more about your legal options. During this difficult time, your well-being and the memory of your loved one are our top priorities. Let us help you seek the justice and closure you deserve while you focus on healing and honoring the life of the one you’ve lost. Call our office at (305) 694-2676 today for a free and confidential consultation.