Whether criminal charges apply to an incident or not, Florida law holds people accountable when they kill someone else. Surviving family members can seek relief in civil court through wrongful death lawsuits. These cases can result in both pecuniary and punitive damages depending on the facts in the case. Unfortunately, these amounts are limited in situations involving children, the elderly and vulnerable adults.
What are pecuniary damages?
When someone dies, they often leave behind family members who depend on them. Pecuniary damages refer to specific expenses related to the loss. These can include:
- Loss of income
- Loss of childcare
- Related medical bills
- Mental healthcare for survivors
- Funeral expenses
What are punitive damages?
Unlike pecuniary damages, punitive damages are meant as a punishment for intentional or wildly negligent behavior resulting in serious personal injury or death. These payments also act as incentives to keep others from doing harm. For instance, drunk drivers often pay punitive damages to surviving family members.
How do you put a price on life?
Determining the value of a victim’s life is one of the biggest challenges in a wrongful death suit. It’s tough regarding pecuniary damages. Loss of income takes up the lion’s share of expenses, but income usually can’t be factored in for certain victims including:
- Elderly people
- Vulnerable adults who can’t work
Unfortunately, the law places further limits on these cases by restricting punitive damages based on the amount of the other compensation awarded.
No amount of money can replace a loved one. However, wrongful death lawsuits can help families deal with the aftermath of one of the worst tragedies of their lives. Florida lawyers can help you receive fair compensation.