Because of the height speed of travel and the massive weight involved, train accidents often involve fatalities. If your loved one died in a train accident, you might be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
You Must Have a Right of Action Under Florida Law
You can only sue for wrongful death if the decedent would have had the right to sue for damages if he or she had survived the accident. Also, the cause of the death must be a “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty.” [768.19, Fla. Stat. (2017)]
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Train Accident in Florida
The Florida Wrongful Death Act provides that the personal representative of the individual who died can file a lawsuit on behalf of the decedent’s estate and survivors.
Reach a Settlement or File a Lawsuit
Ideally, the insurance company of the responsible party would offer to pay a reasonable amount of damages without the necessity of a lawsuit. Unfortunately, that outcome is unusual in wrongful death claims. If we do not reach a fair settlement with the insurer of the liable party, then we proceeded to file a lawsuit.
The Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida
Florida statutes only give you two years to bring a wrongful death action in Florida. If you miss this deadline, you could be barred forever from getting compensation for the death of your loved one.
Special Considerations of Wrongful Death Train Accidents
A standard wrongful death lawsuit is a higher level of litigation than, for example, a simple fender bender case involving minor injuries. When the wrongful death was the result of a train accident, things get even more complicated.
Government agencies own or operate many of the trains in Florida. There are different rules for suing the government. Also, whether the train is privately-owned or is part of public transit, the state and federal regulations that apply to trains might affect the outcome of the lawsuit.
Damages Recoverable in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Florida law specifies which damages the estate and the decedent’s survivors can recover in these cases.
- If you are a survivor of the decedent, you can get compensation for the lost support and services of the decedent.
- Surviving spouses can claim lost support and services, loss of companionship and protection of the decedent, and mental pain and suffering.
- If the surviving children are minors or if there is no surviving spouse, the surviving children can seek compensation for loss of support and services, mental pain and suffering, and loss of parental companionship, instruction, and guidance.
- Parents can recover damages for mental pain and suffering if the person who died was a minor child.
- Parents can pursue damages for mental pain and suffering if the decedent was an adult child who left no other survivors.
- The person who paid the final medical bills and funeral costs can seek reimbursement of those expenses.
- The estate of the decedent can seek to recover the loss of earnings the deceased person likely would have amassed during the rest of the working life. Florida law will reduce this amount to present value.