In Florida wrongful death lawsuits, there are certain individuals who have the right to pursue such action, either as the personal administrator of the deceased or as dependent survivors of the deceased. These are generally, in order, spouses, minor children, dependent parents and dependent siblings. For anyone who owes child support, however, it should be noted that F.S. 409.25656 allows for garnishment of any personal injury or wrongful death damage award for certain outstanding obligations – including child support.
Laws and application vary from state-to-state, but a recent case out of Tennessee challenged similar provisions in that state’s laws.
Ultimately, the state’s highest court awarded a $100,000 settlement in a wrongful death car accident lawsuit to decedent’s husband, who had abandoned both his wife and child shortly after the child was born and who owed a total of $72,000 in child support to his four other unrelated children. That $100,000 settlement is to be garnished for the $72,000 in support, but plaintiff will still receive payment on the rest. Though a state law in Tennessee precludes spouses who abandon (by legal standards) their partners from collecting wrongful death damages for a partner’s death, that law was not in place at the time decedent in this case died. Continue reading →