Miami Florida: Can I make a wrongful death claim after my relative died of COVID-19 on a cruise?

Apr 2, 2020 11:00 PM ET

Passengers aboard a cruise ship where four people have died, while many others including the crew fell ill to COVID-19 have been stranded and others are worried about contracting the deadly disease. If a person died on the cruise ship because they became infected when inadequate measures were made to remove them from the infectious situation, is there an argument for wrongful death?  Wrongful deaths occur from accidents, medical malpractice, criminal acts, police brutality, and products liability errors.  In the State of Florida, if a person dies due to a wrongful act caused by negligence, breach of contract or default, a deceased person’s estate may file a civil suit for a legal remedy for the death and losses related to it.

If death occurs due to medical malpractice, the family members who can sue are

children who are 25-years-old or younger;
adult children dependent on the deceased for financial support;
the spouse; and
the parents of a child who died due to malpractice can only recover if their child was 25 or younger at the time of death.  



Florida Statutes section 768.19 states that when a person’s death “is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract” of another person or some other entity, the estate of the deceased person may bring a civil lawsuit in Florida’s courts, seeking a legal remedy for that death and the losses stemming from it.



If a child is born to unmarried parents, the child can recover damages in a wrongful death case if his or her mother dies. If the child’s father dies, however, the child can only recover damages if the father recognized the child as his own and was obligated to support the child.


Statute of limitations.

A wrongful death lawsuit in Florida must be filed within two years of the date of death in most cases, according to Florida Statutes section 95.11(4)(d). The deadline may be postponed, under a few very specific circumstances making legal representation valuable.



Monetary damages can only be sought after in a wrongful death civil action by a representative of the deceased’s estate, but if the death was a result of criminal activity, punitive damages may also be sought after.

Florida Statutes section 768.21 sets out the state’s rules for awarding damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Damages are based on:

support and services the deceased person provided to the family;
loss of companionship, guidance, and protection provided by the deceased;
mental and emotional pain and suffering due to the loss of a family member, and
medical or funeral expenses paid for the deceased person.


The deceased person’s estate may also recover certain types of damages. These include:

lost wages, benefits, and earnings, including the value of lost earnings the deceased could reasonably have been expected to make in their lifetime;
lost earnings the estate could reasonably have been expected to collect if the deceased person had lived; and
medical and funeral expenses that were paid by the estate directly.


Hire a lawyer.

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person, you may be able to file a wrongful death action and receive compensation for that loss.  Contact a professional attorney at Madalon Law Offices for consultation and guidance with your legal claim. 

Madalon Law

150 SE 2nd Ave, Suite 300

Miami FL 33131

Phone: (786) 401-5059

Toll Free: (877) 486-2883

Fax: (954) 923-0074

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