Trayvon Martin’s parents may have finally begun to find justice for the untimely and nationally publicized death of their 17-year-old son after recently settling a wrongful death claim against the homeowners association of the neighborhood where the teenager was killed. Although the actual amount was kept confidential, it is believed that Tracy Martin and Sabrina Fulton settled for more than $1 million. Florida’s Wrongful Death Act allows survivors to hold those responsible for their loved one’s death monetarily liable, but there are specific guidelines that should be understood before filing a claim.
Who can recover wrongful death damages?
Florida law states that a decedent’s spouse or minor children (under 25 years old) may recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Parents of the decedent are only eligible if there is no surviving spouse or minor children. Other blood or adoptive relatives may be considered eligible survivors if they were partially or wholly dependent on the care or services of the decedent. When eligible survivors wish to file a wrongful death claim, a personal representative is appointed to act on behalf of everyone through the legal proceedings. The representative pays attorney fees out of the recovered damages and distributes compensation to the eligible survivors.
What can be recovered?
When awarding damages, courts examine the relationship between the decedent and the survivor and the circumstances surrounding the death. Usually, wrongful death damages include:
Loss of emotional support and care
Loss of income and contribution to household tasks
Funeral and medical expenses
Pain and suffering
Punitive damages if the death was caused by a party’s wanton and reckless behavior
In Florida, you have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a claim.