Wrongful death occurs when a person dies as the result of someone else’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing, or a defective product. The harm which caused death did not have to be inflicted intentionally. Any harm which could have resulted in a personal injury lawsuit, had the victim lived, can be grounds for a wrongful death suit.
According to the State of Florida, the purpose of wrongful death law is to shift the losses resulting from wrongful death away from the loved ones of the person who died to the wrongdoer responsible for their death. A wrongful death lawsuit is a way for you to receive monetary compensation for the financial and personal losses you have suffered due to the death of your loved one. That includes future losses based on what your loved one would have contributed financially, in services such as helping run the household, and in their role in your relationship such as companionship and protection.
Wrongful death law does not attempt to punish the wrongdoer criminally, and only in rare cases does it provide for financial punishment in the form of punitive damages. Because it is a civil matter, not a criminal matter, the standard of proof is lower and you need only prove negligence. This means that you have a much better chance of winning and it is how and why a defendant can be found not guilty in a criminal case, but still held responsible financially in a civil suit arising out of the same event. Of course, in most wrongful death actions there is no accompanying criminal case.
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