What Happens If an Accident Victim Passes During the Claims Process?
Posted on behalf of Gordon & Partners on Apr 28, 2021 in Personal Injury
Unfortunately, some accident victims do not live to the end of the legal process. The injuries they sustained were so serious they were unable to make a recovery. If the victim survived the accident, filed a claim for their injuries, but later died as a result of his or her injuries, you may be wondering what happens to the claim he or she filed? Is it possible for a family member to take over?
Below, we discuss how Florida law handles these types of situations and why having an experienced lawyer on your side could be beneficial. If you are unsure if you have a claim or have questions about the legal process, reach out to our firm to schedule a complimentary consultation. There is zero cost to talk to a lawyer, zero upfront fees if we take on a case and zero fees while we work on a case.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
If an accident victim passes away during the claim process, the case will become a wrongful death. Personal injury claims in Florida do not continue if the injuries sustained in the accident were the cause of the death.
A wrongful death claim seeks damages endured by the surviving family members of the deceased victim, such a spouse or child. The personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim to collect damages on behalf of the survivors.
Some damages that may be recovered under state law include:
- Medical expenses related to the death
- Funeral or burial expenses
- Loss of income the deceased would have provided
- Loss of benefits, such as retirement
- Loss of support, care and companionship
- Mental anguish caused by the loss of a loved one
Any expense a surviving family member incurs as a direct result of the at-fault party’s negligent actions is a possible source for compensation. Our licensed West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers are well-versed in proving negligence in wrongful death claims. If your claim has merit, we are prepared to build a strong case on your behalf and identify all of the legal damages you may be eligible to receive.
Pursuing a Survival Action
What if the accident victim who filed a claim dies for some reason that is completely unrelated to his or her previous injury, such as another accident?
Florida Statutes § 46.021 allows a cause of action to survive the victim’s death. The survival action continues injury claims not related to the death. For instance, say the victim sustained head and neck injuries after being rear-ended, he or she filed a claim for the accident, but then passed away later on in a pedestrian-related accident. The initial injury claim may continue as a survival action.
Unlike a wrongful death claim – which is meant to compensate the surviving family members – a survival action seeks damages related to the accident victim’s damages prior to his or her death.
The personal representative of the deceased’s estate may be able to pursue a survival action to recover all financial losses the victim would have been eligible to receive had he or she lived.
These damages may include:
- The victim’s own pain and suffering
- Medical bills accrued before death
- Lost income between the time of injury and time of death
Who Can Sue the Liable Party?
In a wrongful death case or survival action, only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can take legal action. He or she must prove that the negligent party was liable for the victim’s death. This means showing that the death was caused by someone who had a duty of care to uphold.
If the victim did not name an executor or administrator before death, the court will appoint one.
Why You Should Have Legal Representation
These types of claims can be complex. Insurance companies want nothing more than to pay the least amount possible in order to protect their bottom line. This outcome is not in you or your family's best interests.
With legal representation on your side, you have a better chance at obtaining just and fair compensation. Your lawyer can handle all legal matters to support you during this difficult time.
Contact Our Firm for a Free Consultation
Gordon & Partners is ready to review your situation and discuss your potential legal options in a risk-free, no-obligation consultation. Our firm has helped recover millions in compensation for Florida residents over more than two decades. Read what some of our clients have to say about our services.
There is nothing to pay up front to retain our services and nothing to pay unless we obtain compensation on your behalf.