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    WRONGFUL DEATH AND COVID-19: What Florida Residents Need to Know

    Boca Raton Wrongful Death Lawyer Ronald Zakarin

    The COVID-19 epidemic is still here, and Floridians are still feeling the effects. Now that the causes and sources of the virus are becoming better known, it is possible to know if negligence was involved in someone’s getting infected with COVID-19, and worse, if anyone died from it. The Law Offices of Ronald M. Zakarin in Boca Raton are prepared to help if a victim or their family decides they need to consult an attorney.

    What is Wrongful Death?

    At its most basic, wrongful death is a death due to another’s negligence. Just as a personal injury claim can be made if someone is harmed by another’s carelessness, a wrongful death claim is made when someone dies due to any or all of a  number of negligent factors:

    • The infection occurred because of negligence. For instance, if the patient was in a hospital or nursing home which did not practice personal protective measures, and the virus was transmitted between patients.
    • The infection was worsened because of negligence. If the staff of a nursing home itself was decimated by the illness, or working with a skeleton crew because so many of the staff was staying home, then the residents might not be receiving the care they needed.
    • There were other transmission circumstances that could have been prevented. For instance, PPE was used in contact between residents and staff, but not in the kitchen. Or family and friends were allowed to visit without using PPE until late in the epidemic.

    If a patient contracted COVID under these conditions, and then died, a wrongful death lawsuit might be appropriate.

    What is Negligence?

    The cumbersome legal definition of “negligence” is that the negligent party owed a duty of care to the victim, and breached that duty, and that breach was the actual and legal cause of the harm suffered. As a layperson, “negligence” means a little more than that someone was careless or thoughtless. It means that the person who was careless had a special responsibility to the victim not to be careless, but they were anyway.

    In Florida, wrongful death negligence is defined by State statute sections 768.16-768.26, (The “Wrongful Death Act”) which was written to give the survivors of a wrongful death a cause of action against the wrongdoer, and to recover damages on behalf of the decedent and themselves.

    Damages: What they Are, and What they Are Not

    Of course, everyone dreams of “suing them for everything they’ve got” but in reality, the sky is not the limit. The Wrongful Death Act is fairly broad in what it lets survivors sue for, but the damages themselves are carefully described. Survivors can recover damages for:

    • The loss of support and “services” (i.e., wages) from the date of injury to the death of the individual, and future loss of support based upon life expectancy;
    • A spouse may recover for loss of companionship and for mental pain and suffering;
    • A minor child may recover for parental companionship, guidance, and mental pain and suffering, and all children may recover if there is no other surviving parent;
    • Parents may recover for pain and suffering for a deceased minor child.

    The purpose of the Wrongful Death Act’s damages is to ease some of the loss, and also to support the family of the decedent after someone else’s carelessness caused them to die too soon.

    What the Boca Raton Lawyer can Do

    Especially now, an attorney should earnestly be considered by anyone who has lost a loved one. The burden of proof is on the person bringing the suit, and COVID lawsuits will be breaking new ground, in attempting to prove negligence for a pandemic that circled the globe and had no precedent in this century.

    Claimants have a limited time, only two years, from the date of the death, to file a claim for wrongful death. A law firm like the Law Offices of Ronald M. Zakarin are able to handle the complicated process and understand the details of even these newer negligence cases. Don’t wait; contact an attorney today.