Losing a loved one in a car accident can cause significant emotional and mental trauma. As such, surviving family members are often able to recover damages for their suffering and pain from the party responsible for the accident. Such compensation is calculated based on the life expectancy of the survivor, and if he or she dies prior to an award being issued, no damages will be awarded. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida opinion, in which the court reduced a $5,000,000 damages award to $0 due to the death of the surviving heir prior to the judgment being made final. If you lost a loved one in a fatal car crash, you have the right to pursue compensation, and it is advisable to speak to a skillful Florida car accident attorney to assess your options.
The Procedural History
It is reported that the decedent died in a collision on a road that was next to the defendant travel center. The decedent’s estate then filed a lawsuit against the defendant pursuant to Florida’s Wrongful Death Act. A jury found in favor of the estate and awarded the decedent’s sole survivor $5,000,000 in damages for mental suffering and pain. The defendant filed a motion for a new trial, but while that motion was pending, the surviving heir died. The court then denied the motion.
Allegedly, the defendant then moved for relief from the judgment, arguing that the damages should be reduced to $0 pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 768.24, which states that a survivor’s death prior to a final judgment must limit his or her recovery to lost services and support to the date of the survivor’s death. The court found that as the motion for a new trial was pending when the survivor died, the judgment was not yet final and granted the defendant’s motion. The estate then appealed. Continue reading