If you lost a loved one due to the negligence or carelessness of another person or company, you may be entitled to various types of damages through a Florida wrongful death suit. For example, if your deceased loved one was the primary wage earner for the family, that person's loss of income could be recoverable for the benefit of the surviving relatives that depended on the decedent’s income and support. In this article, we are going to talk more about recovering for lost wages in a Florida wrongful death lawsuit.
Who Can Recover for Loss of Income in Florida Wrongful Death Cases?
Under Florida law, “survivors” of the decedent are permitted to recover various damages and benefits in a wrongful death suit. Each state specifically defines who may receive the benefits of a wrongful death lawsuit and who may file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Florida, the survivors entitled to recover include a surviving spouse, child, or parent.
Loss of Income After a Florida Wrongful Death
Losing a loved one is a traumatic experience that can flip an entire family’s world upside down. The pain, however, is not limited to mental pain, suffering, and trauma. Sometimes, a family loses the primary wage-earner in a wrongful death incident. In those circumstances, the devastation and shock of losing a loved one is compounded by the added stress of the serious financial burden that comes with losing that person. For example, in wrongful death cases, there are often extraordinary bills associated with medical care and funeral costs. Additionally, the deceased loved one is no longer earning money for the family. What can the family do to make ends meet after they lose their loved one?
Luckily, the Florida wrongful death statute allows for families to recover money spent on funeral expenses. Additionally, families may recover for any money spent on medical treatment because of their loved one’s injuries. This would likely include any medical bills related to the injuries that were incurred between the time of the injury and the decedent’s death.
In addition to funeral expenses and medical bills, the Florida wrongful death statute allows survivors to recover for loss of support and services. In determining the proper value of such a loss, Florida courts consider the amount of the decedent’s probable net income that would be available to the survivor. Additionally, a surviving spouse and surviving children are able to claim a loss for “net accumulations to the estate.”
What is a Net Accumulation to the Estate Under the Florida Wrongful Death Statute?
Florida Statute 768.18(5), defines net accumulations as follows:
[T]he part of the decedent’s expected net business or salary income, including pension benefits, that the decedent probably would have retained as savings and left as part of her or his estate if the decedent had lived her or his normal life expectancy. “Net business or salary income” is the part of the decedent’s probable gross income after taxes, excluding income from investments continuing beyond death, that remains after deducting the decedent’s personal expenses and support of survivors, excluding contributions in kind.
When determining the proper award for net accumulations to the estate, the jury is permitted to consider various factors, including the decedent’s age, health, wage earnings, skills, and ability to save and accumulate wealth. When a person dies in Florida, that person’s spouse and children may potentially recover for the loss of net accumulations to the estate. If the person who died was under the age of 25, then that person’s parents can potentially recover for loss of net accumulations to the deceased minor child’s estate.
What Types of Earnings Would Not Constitute Net Accumulations to the Estate in Florida?
Although survivors may potentially recover for loss of net accumulations to the estate of their deceased loved one, there are several types of earnings that are not considered net accumulations. Importantly, the Florida wrongful death statute defines “net accumulations” as the decedent’s “net business or salary income, including pension benefits.” Thus, some common types of income one might expect to be a part of net accumulations may be excluded. For example, rental income from rental properties would not be counted as part of net accumulations.
Additionally, some types of employment benefits are excluded from net accumulations. In fact, the only employment benefits mentioned in the definition of net accumulations is pension benefits. Thus, the value of employer heath or disability insurance, 401(k) plan, and other benefits offered by employers would not constitute net accumulations. Additionally, passive income and interest on investments that continue to grow after the decedent’s death would not be included as a lost net accumulation because they continue to accumulate after the decedent’s death.
Contact our Florida Wrongful Death Law Firm for Your FREE Consultation
A wrongful death claim is a serious matter. When a person dies, there is a lot at stake. It’s not just about the money; it’s also about the need for justice. It’s about stopping the negligent or careless person or company from hurting anyone else. We will fight the insurance company. That’s what we do. Your job is to get through this difficult time.
You can reach out to us any time to schedule your free legal consultation. You can call us at (321) 352-7588, or you can reach out to us at our website. Once you schedule your consultation, you will get to speak with a Florida wrongful death attorney at a time that is convenient for you.
At our firm, lawyers do consultations, not call center folks or customer service representatives. Also, our clients get our cell phone number. We take a limited number of cases so that we can deliver the best experience possible to the people that need us. When you need us, we’re here.