In most Florida wrongful death lawsuits, it’s often a simple matter to link defendant (the person alleged to be legally at-fault) with the conduct that resulted in death. For example: A drunk driver swerves off the road and slams into a tree, killing a passenger. The defendant’s negligent conduct caused the passenger’s death.
It can get complicated, though, when we’re dealing with liability for a loved one’s suicide. This is where that causal link (referred to in court as “causation”) becomes difficult to prove. A person who commits suicide is the direct cause of his or her own death. But the question becomes: Was defendant’s action or inaction a substantial factor in decedent’s suicide? Courts will also ask whether decedent’s actions were reasonably foreseeable. There are no hard-and-fast rules for when a defendant may be legally liable for someone else’s suicide, but we have noticed an increase in such cases.
Recently in Wakulla County, the parents of a 15-year-old who tragically committed suicide have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school and one of his middle school teachers. The lawsuit alleges the teacher and the school are party to blame for the teen’s death following allegations of inappropriate contact between the teacher and the 8th-grader. Continue reading →