Civil lawsuits are sometimes filed when someone passes away as a result of another’s wrongful actions. If there is a monetary recovery, there must be a determination as to who will receive the proceeds. The funds recovered can either pass to the estate of the decedent or directly to the wrongful death survivors. A wrongful death “survivor” is defined as a decedent’s …”spouse, children, parents, and, when partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services, any blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters.” Fla. Stat. Sec. 768.18(1).
In HELEN CHIRINO, etc., vs JOSE LEON, etc., et al., our firm successfully defended an appeal filed by Helen Chirino, the decedent’s adult daughter from a prior marriage, who alleged that the trial court unlawfully allocated wrongful death proceeds to the survivors instead of to the estate.
Sergio L. Mendez represented Yolanda Chirino, the decedent’s surviving spouse, and argued before the Third District Court of Appeals that Yolanda and the decedent’s minor child were the decedent’s survivors and proper beneficiaries of the wrongful death proceeds. In his oral argument (which can be seen live here), Sergio correctly asserted that the estate would only be entitled to allocation of funds from the wrongful death settlement if there was a successful claim for loss of net accumulations as defined by Fla. Stat. Sec. 768.18(5). Since there was no evidence introduced at the trial court level to support a claim for loss of net accumulations, the court properly apportioned the wrongful death proceeds directly to the decedent’s survivors.
This case is one of the many examples of wrongful death cases our firm has handled over the years. Contact our firm here if you have any questions surrounding a wrongful death.